The town of Jacksonport was established in 1833 near the confluence of the White and Black rivers and developed as a busy inland port. Steamboats from New Orleans and Memphis exchanged raw materials and finished goods here with the smaller boats that could travel the shallower streams. Jacksonport’s commercial importance determined its choice in 1854 as county seat, and although a courthouse was planned, construction of the two-story Second Empire building was delayed until after the Civil War. Designed by John A. Schnabel and built between 1869 and 1872, the brick courthouse has tall round-arched windows and doors and is topped with a wooden cupola. In 1872 the Cairo and Fulton Railroad proposed making Jacksonport a major station between Little Rock and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, but the town’s citizens refused to invest the required $25,000, so the railroad laid tracks and set up a depot a few miles away, around which a new town, named Newport, developed. Not only did this rob Jacksonport of its commercial significance, but in 1891 Newport supplanted it as the county seat. Jacksonport’s now redundant courthouse building was used for various purposes over the years, including a school, a cotton gin, the county poor house for forty years, and grain storage before being abandoned. In 1962 the Jacksonport County Historical Society purchased the building and restored it, and it was restored again in 1999 (Steelman Connell Moseley). The park also includes nature walks, camping and picnic areas, and a boat launch.
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Jacksonport State Park
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