Collection: Jon Walter
Scanned by Jon Walter
When Walnut Ridge was founded in 1874, all the business owners wanted to be as close to the Iron Mountain Railroad as possible. By 1893, the majority of the original wooden structures had been burned in a horrific fire that destroyed much of East and West Front Streets, and were replaced that same year by brick buildings, several that remain today.
By the time this postcard was mailed on July 25, 1911, the majority of the businesses in town were still located on East and West Front Street, but the West side of Main Street was beginning to take shape with businesses, rather than homes.
The back of the card is postmarked July 25, 1911, and has a 1 cent stamp on it. It is addressed to a Miss Louise Tillotson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and reads:
Just put another state on my belt. Laying over here for 6 hours on my way to West Plains, Mo. signed by E.
Just 10 years prior, if you were looking at this street, you might have seen the Mule Trolley being led by “Old Jack”. In fact, the famous picture of the 1900 Mule Car Line, was taken in front of these buildings when the trolley tracks ran down SE Front Street. The Electric Streetcar replaced the Mule Car in the early 1900s, with the tracks running down Main Street and SW Front to Hoxie.
This photograph, taken from across the street and railroad tracks, appears to have been made from the platform of the Iron Mountain Railroad Depot. The Depot had just been newly built 3 years prior in 1908.
SE Front Businesses
The first building, from right to left, is the Opera House. Just a few years prior, this had been a restaurant, and by 1914 it had been razed and replaced with a much larger Theater. The theater today is the building that was most recently Frog’s & Barnhill’s Glass, and is now occupied by Moonshine Lights.
The next building is the First National Bank of Walnut Ridge. You can see an interior shot of this bank in an earlier article. In older pictures we have in our collection, this building has “Bank and Trust” on the sign, but that bank merged and became “First National Bank of Walnut Ridge” in 1909. This building is still standing today and is being used as Shepherd Care, a non-profit clothing ministry.
The next 3 storefronts share the same structure. A Billiard Hall run by Harry Matthews, a Hardware store, and a Drugstore owned by Marvin M. Collier. These three storefronts are in the same location as Dickey Tree Service today, and may possible be the same building, just with a different facade. The Mule Trolley picture described above was taken directly in front of these 3 storefronts, but prior to them being built.
Finishing off that block to Main Street is a taller storefront that housed a Bakery, followed by a Meat Market and a Restaurant on the corner. Today, this would be the old Police Station and Larry’s Muffler and parking lot, but the buildings are not the same.
NE Front Businesses
Across Main Street in the distance there are five 2-story buildings followed by three 1-story buildings.
The first building is a General Merchandise Store owned by W. G. McClamroch, whose name you can see on the mural on the side of the building. The next two buildings are also General Stores/Hardware Stores. None of these three buildings are there today. They have been replaced on the corner with Carson’s Meat Market and the parking lot, and another single story building.
The next two 2-story buildings are still there. The first, at the time of the picture, was the Lawrence County Bank. It is now a vacant building, but partially standing. The last 2-story building was Herman Arndt Mercantile. The upstairs of that building was the longtime home of Aurora Lodge #423 Free & Accepted Masons. That building is currently being restored.
The final three buildings on that lot were 1-story. They were a Cobbler, another Meat Market, and a Tailor. There are no buildings there today, the lots are all empty.