There is a very popular restaurant in this area called the Monte Ne Chicken Inn. Three things make this little eatery special; it was named after the Monte Ne resort that was built in 1901, it has famously scrumptious fried chicken, and the meal is served family-style just like good ole’ down-home Sunday dinners. This little restaurant has been in Rogers for over 40 years, just a short distance away from the ruins of the Monte Ne Resort.
Standing in the midst of these ruins can bring those same feelings I believe you get when standing for the first time in places like Babylon, the Colosseum, or the Parthenon. Who are the people behind the vision of this place? How did they build it? What was it like when it was alive and thriving? What happened to bring it to ruins? It’s bittersweet to take in the beauty that still lies there along with a sadness that it no longer serves the vision of its creator.
When she was a little girl, my friend was taken by her father to visit the abandoned resort in the summer of 1964. He had been informed that a dam was to be built on the White River and this would cause the waters of Beaver Lake to rise and flood the resort. Her father took these photos that day. She recalls seeing it again several times throughout her childhood and as recently as fall 2014 when the water levels were very low. She says she always gets that feeling that our own Ozarks “Atlantis” has arisen from it’s watery grave and she loves letting her imagination run wild there.
I hope her father’s photos and this very condensed list of crazy facts about the ruins of the Monte Ne Resort will ignite the explorer in you. It is just one of many historic places in NWA that you will want to experience.
* Monte Ne was built by William Hope “Coin” Harvey. His bio is a hoot! What a character! He was a friend of presidents and statesmen… very famous in his day. Read Russell T. Johnson’s article at Arkansas Roadside Stories website.
* Monte Ne means “mountain springs” and Harvey aptly named it because of the many springs that ran throughout the 350 acres he purchased for his healing waters resort.
* Harvey built his own private railroad to get folks from the main line in Lowell to the resort. Man-made lagoons were created between the amphitheater and the inns. He imported real gondolas from Venice to carry guests arriving off the train to the inns.
* The building plans for the resort included an obelisk that would house a time capsule. The obelisk was not completed but many believed he hid the time capsule in one of the walls of the amphitheater.
* The tower that connected the two inns, the largest inns in the world at the time, still stands on dry ground. One of the two amazing log inns, Oklahoma Row, was moved from the site and placed on some land alongside Hwy. 94 with hopes to refurbish it. The other inn, Missouri Row is underwater now. Each guest room had its own fireplace. It had Arkansas’ first indoor swimming pool, a beautiful dance pavilion and wonderful golf course.
* The amphitheater hosted the Liberty Party’s national convention in 1932 when Harvey ran as their presidential candidate. This is highlighted in an article by James Skipper. Harvey passed away in 1936 and his tomb is nearby.
* Monte Ne was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Corp of Engineers had to fence in the tower to stop vandalism.
My hope is that this little glimpse into a piece of our history has stirred the explorer in you with a desire to check out many of our historical places throughout NWA. Read about Harvey who was referred to as “one of the most colorful figures in American history.” Do a little time-travel to the ruins with friends or family and include a dinner stop for the best fried chicken ever! Post some photos of your adventure and share this little bit of Ozark history with the rest of us. There’s always something new to experience in our corner of the world.
If you’re interested in buying or selling real estate in Northwest Arkansas, contact me, Jill Bell.
I’d love to help you out!