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Historic Monte Ne tower to be torn down as part of Oklahoma Row removal; Rogers museum plans to preserve what it can

by Garrett Moore | February 10, 2023 at 8:35 a.m.
Participants in the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas' 2012 Northwest Arkansas Ramble explore in 2012 the remnants of Oklahoma Tower at the Monte Ne Historic site. (Submitted Photo)

ROGERS -- A major landmark from the historic resort town of Monte Ne will soon be torn down.

Crews will begin removing the Oklahoma Row section of the early 20th century resort during the week of Feb. 20, according to a news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The three-story Oklahoma Tower, which stands on the shore of Beaver Lake, will also be torn down. The work will take about three weeks, the release states.

The concrete tower has become a threat to safety over the years, according to Jay Townsend with the Corps of Engineers.

"Continuous exposure to high lake waters over the last decade have contributed to the dangerous conditions along Oklahoma Row. It's only a matter of time before things start falling on their own," he said.

After decades of investigating ways to preserve Monte Ne, the Corps of Engineers was not able to find a cost-effective way to preserve Oklahoma Row and Tower, according to Townsend. The decision "was not an easy one," but was supported by preservationists, lawmakers and the corps, he said in the release.

"Over the years, as we worked to preserve the site, our rangers observed increased trespassing through the security fence and other dangerous activities," he said. "Vandals have covered parts of the structure in graffiti. It's an incredible piece of history, but more and more, it's become an attractive nuisance and safety hazard."

The Corps of Engineers is cooperating with the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Rogers Historical Museum and Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to preserve material from the site, according to Townsend.

Serena Barnett, director of the Rogers Historical Museum, said there will be historical markers at the site in the future. Plans include adding something like educational panels with pictures to mark the location, she said.

The museum also hopes to keep a piece of the tower in its collection, she said.

The contractor will stage the equipment next week, according to Derek Murken, Beaver Lake operations manager.

The resort town of Monte Ne was founded a few miles southeast of Rogers by William H. "Coin" Harvey in 1900. Work on the log hotel Oklahoma Row, designed by architect A.O. Clarke, began in 1908 following the construction of another hotel called Missouri Row, according to the Rogers Historical Museum's website.

Monte Ne's hotels attracted visitors from across the U.S. for decades, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. The resort was a financial disappointment, and Oklahoma Row was sold in a foreclosure sale in 1927, the museum website states.

Much of the resort and town were left underwater after the White River was dammed to create Beaver Lake in the 1960s. The Army Corps of Engineers assumed responsibility for management of the historic property after the creation of the lake. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Print Headline: Historic Monte Ne tower to be torn down


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