Collection: Lawrence County Library
Source: The Blade Newspaper, Mar 22, 1912
Scanned by James Whitlow
1893 – 1906 NW Front Street
Northwest and Northeast Front Street were the original business districts of Walnut Ridge. Everyone wanted to build as close to the railroad tracks as possible. The buildings in this newspaper photograph are on NW Front Street and stretch from Main Street to Walnut Street.
These are not the original buildings from the 1870s. A fire in 1893 destroyed most of the Walnut Ridge businesses. All of the buildings on NW Front Street were built in 1893 or after. Several of the buildings today still have thresholds in the doorways with the original owners name and the date 1893 stamped in iron.
The Iron Mountain Hotel
In this picture is a view of one of the earliest buildings built in Walnut Ridge.
The building on the far left of the photograph, across Main Street and very near the railroad tracks, is the old Iron Mountain Hotel. It sat where our current Iron Mountain Depot is today. It was a wooden, 2-story structure, that served as a hotel and also as the depot. It had a large dining room, kitchen, office, lunch counter, 2 separate waiting rooms, ticket office and telegraph office on the first floor.
It was originally built in the early 1870s as a restaurant by Mr. Henry Boas and his wife Mary Boas. The restaurant burned in May of 1877. In the book “A History of the North-Western Editorial Excursion to Arkansas”, the original building is mentioned at least 28 times by different reporters during their 2 hour stop in Walnut Ridge on September 28th, 1876.
J.N. Gress, of the Kokomo Democrat writes, “At eight o’clock the train reached Walnut Ridge, where a good substantial breakfast was served by Mrs. Henry Boas, and no cashier appeared to demand the usual 6 bits.”
Jacob Stotler, of the Emporia News writes, “At an early hour we ate a good breakfast at Walnut Ridge. While the train was was waiting a large black bear chained to a post amused the company with many antics. He seemed to have a particular liking for the Chicago Times man, who was about heavy enough for a good morning lunch… Walnut Ridge is in a beautiful scope of country.”
According to “The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeastern Arkansas (1891 edition)”, this original building burned in May of 1877. Mr Boas, replaced it immediately with the building you see in this picture and opened on September 6, 1877. Later, when the Frisco railroad was placed through Mr. and Mrs Boas’ land in Hoxie, they built the “first” Boas Hotel there in 1883.
By 1906, the city of Walnut Ridge wanted the old Hotel condemned. The November 30, 1906 edition of the Newport Weekly Independent states “The City of Walnut Ridge is trying to condemn the old Iron Mountain Hotel, because of its bad condition. The old two story frame building in the center of town also houses the depot and telegraph office.”
By 1908, the present Iron Mountain Depot had been built in its place.