Goin’ to Town: “Looking Back”

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

Those who make the daily commute from the northern part of Faulkner County to Conway know the frustration of traveling the busy Highway 65. Some have opted to take the alternate route down Highway 25, which has increased the amount of traffic on that somewhat peaceful highway as well. But making the trip to Conway used to be even more challenging and difficult.

In the late 19th century, one of the biggest challenges for people living in the northwestern part of the county was getting across Cadron Creek. There were three routes out of Wooster and Pleasant Valley. Travelers could use B.V. King’s ferry (and later his bridge) or they could cross Davenport Ford or Slatey Ford. Davenport Ford crossed the East Cadron Creek while Slatey Ford crossed the North Cadron Creek south of where the Greenbrier Creek feeds into the North Cadron. People used it if they were going to Menifee or Morrilton.

The fee for use of King’s Bridge was 50 cents for a two-horse wagon. A man on horseback would pay 15 cents. In 1913, the traffic count on the bridge showed that in a 12-hour period, 183 wagons and buggies used this route from the northern part of the county into Conway. It took about four hours to make the eight-mile trip from Wooster to Conway.

For most people in the northwestern Faulkner County, a trip to Conway occurred if there were supplies needed that could not be produced on the farm or found in Wooster. If they went to Conway for supplies in a wagon, it could take all day. Most would leave their wagon in one of the nine wagon yards in Conway. All the wagon yard owners charged the same rate for use of their yards.

In the early 1920s, a new bridge was built with concrete piers and a hardwood floor. It was 14 feet wide and 340 feet long. It was part of the project to build U.S. Highway 65, one of Faulkner County’s first hard surface roads. Completed in 1923, the road cut across the Cadron Creek bottoms to Wooster and continued northward to Bono, Martinville and Damascus.

The Great Flood of 1927, notorious in local history because it marooned Conway for weeks, washed out a large portion of the new road. The Cadron Creek was 27 feet above normal at this time. This caused some to rethink the route and in 1942, U.S. Highway 65 was rerouted to a more favorable route north through Pickles Gap, Spring Hill and Greenbrier to Damascus.

The former U.S. Highway 65 then became State Highway 25. The loss of this major thoroughfare had profound effects on the growth of the communities.

Greenbrier began to prosper and grow while the towns along the old Highway 65 route began to decline.

In 1987, the King’s Bridge was replaced with the modern bridge that is there today. The highway was built up along the levee so that floods no longer cover the roadway and cut off traffic. The Arkansas Highway Department is making plans to widen Highway 25 and connect it to I-40 at the 124 exit.

The road may again become a major artery for those who are going to town from northwestern Faulkner County.