A group of educators from the Black Rock campus of Lawrence County School District visited the REACH sites recently as a part of their Arkansas History inservice training.
REACH (Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage) is a BRTC project of historic preservation that entails the historic, architectural, and archeological study of early settlement in present day Arkansas, with restored log structures as the centerpiece of the project.
The structures, the Rice-Upshaw House (ca. 1828) and the William Looney Tavern (ca. 1833), along with related outbuildings at the Rice-Upshaw site, help tell the story of early pioneering settlers who arrived in the Eleven Point River Valley as early as 1803, bringing with them enslaved African Americans from present-day east Tennessee.
Both the Rice-Upshaw House and William Looney Tavern were donated to BRTC by their owners, family descendants of Reuben Rice and William Looney. The Jean Upshaw family and Jack and Christina French, respectively, deeded the properties to BRTC for preservation and restoration with the agreement that the log structures would be used for educational purposes. Grant funding from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council provided the funds for the project.
The inservice was provided by Dr. Jan Ziegler and Jessica McFadden of the Office of Development.
In addition to learning about those who migrated to the region and constructed the structures, teachers were encouraged to consider ways they can share the history with their students, including through scheduled field trips to the sites.
The REACH sites are open to the public every second Saturday April through October, 10 – 4, and by special appointment for group events. The next open date is Saturday, September 8, with a second open date this month, September 22, to coincide with the Dalton Fish Fry, according to McFadden.
Special group events may be also be arranged by contacting McFadden through the Office of Development at 870-248-4000 ext. 4189. Educational visits can also be arranged by contacting Corporate and Community Education Director Patti Blaxton at 870-248-4181.