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Lowell Hits The Trail to Provide Historical Education (Tourism | Winner, Class II)

3 min read

The city of Lowell is looking toward the future while preserving its past with a new trail marking historic landmarks around the town.

The project was implemented in 2017 by the Lowell Historical Museum and aims to educate residents and visitors alike with a fun twist on the standard museum experience. The markers are placed along a half-mile strip of Lowell’s downtown area, giving visitors the chance to learn little-known facts about the town’s history long after the museum itself has closed for the day.

“The current benefit of the project offers visitors a unique way to learn about early Lowell,” Lowell Mayor Eldon Long said. “The project’s future benefit will continue to educate Lowell’s history to visitors of the city.”

The project was begun to acknowledge historical points of interest that no longer serve the community, since many of the sites are no longer standing. The project has achieved its objective by offering clear, concise information, and the markers were placed in close proximity to existing historical sites, giving viewers an immersive experience.

After the purchase of the markers, the project operates at no additional cost. City staff from the Lowell Street Department installed the markers under the direction of Lowell Historical Museum Director Liz Estes. While the project didn’t save the community money, it does offer a rich retelling of Lowell’s past.

A few of the locations spotlighted date to the late 1800s, some of which include the original Bank of Lowell, the First Free Will Baptist Church, the Lowell Hotel, the Old City Jail, the Old School on South Lincoln Street, the Lowell Postal Service, the Lowell Historical Museum, the Service Station and Garage, the Evaporator Near Railroad Track (the evaporator was a business that dried apples over wooden racks with wood-fired furnace heat) and the Train Depot, to name several.

Lowell’s project was designed in such a way that any city or town could implement the same practices to promote their historic district. Not only does the project preserve the town’s past, but the historical trail also promotes healthy habits by encouraging residents to get out and move at their own pace.

“The project’s current value to the community is immeasurable,” Long said. “The project offers the community an opportunity to learn about Lowell’s history any time of day while encouraging visitors to walk along Lowell’s historical downtown and experience the sites firsthand. The long-term value to the community ensures that the history of Lowell shall not be forgotten.”

Whether someone is just passing through or they’ve lived in Lowell all their lives, the historical trail project projects a sense of pride to people who can see firsthand how far the area has come since its early days, while also looking toward the future and how Lowell might look 100 years from now.

Led by Estes, the Lowell Historical Museum preserves and interprets historical objects and works of art that build a bridge of culture and understanding of the history of Lowell as well as the greater northwest Arkansas region. It also honors the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. Estes has said the museum is a vital part of the fabric of Lowell.

The nonprofit Lowell Historical Museum Foundation of NWA was established in spring of 2016 and will support the building of a new facility on the Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park property which, speaking of trails, will have access to the Razorback Greenway Trail system connecting northwest Arkansas communities.

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