Another old-time northwest Arkansas resort recalled
Today, if you drive out Arkansas Highway 94 southeast of Rogers you soon arrive in the community of Monte Ne. One of today’s attractions there is the Monte Ne Chicken Inn, a very fine place to eat a fried chicken dinner (reservations required). If you continue south past the restaurant on the Ark. 94 Spur Road you soon reach the waters of Beaver Lake and a boat launching area. It will not be immediately obvious, but you have arrived at the location of a famous resort from the early 1900s, Mr. Coin Harvey’s Monte Ne. Probably the only observable remnant of the old resort complex will be a concrete tower structure sitting derelict just off the highway. It was once part of a grand Oklahoma Row Hotel.
William “Coin” Harvey was an eccentric man with some rather strange ideas and some grand ideas. He apparently had a talent for describing his grand development plans to prospective investors, so he was not dependent only on his own money for carrying out his dreams. He convinced numerous moneyed people to help finance his developments. He had identified the area southeast of Rogers, with springs feeding a stream flowing into the White River, as the spot where he would build hotels, a lake, and a railroad to bring vacationers to his beautiful resort.
During the first decade of the 1900s, Coin Harvey was able to establish and open his hotel resort complex at Monte Ne, and to build a railroad westward connecting with the Frisco Railroad between Rogers and Lowell. Passengers bound for the resort could board the Monte Ne Railroad a short distance north from Pleasant Grove Road and ride the train to the hotel and grounds at Monte Ne. Harvey had provided a lake between his railroad station and hotel area, so passengers leaving the train climbed into gondolas and were rowed across the lake to their hotel. Pretty grand, right? Very Vienna-like! Early on he was able to attract large crowds, with people coming from large cities and various states to vacation in the Ozarks.
Apparently, Mr. Harvey was better at working with investors and construction people than he was with managing the properties and getting along with his customers. At one point he became upset with a number of his visitors who liked to stay up late at night, dancing and partying. Determined to get his guests to quiet down and turn in for the night, he shut down his electrical generators, putting everyone in the dark. Needless to say, this was not well received.
For several years, Mr. Harvey continued his Monte Ne construction projects. One very notable structure was an amphitheatre, capable of seating large crowds. Even today, in the era of Beaver Lake, when the lake’s water level drops to a low level, Harvey’s amphitheatre reappears, emerging out of the lake waters as a reminder of Monte Ne’s illustrious past.
As the years passed, Mr. Harvey decided to enter politics, and in the early 1930s, at the beginning of the Great Depression, he ran for president of the United States. He had encouraged his party, the Liberty Party, to hold its nominating convention at his Monte Ne amphitheatre, and the convention chose him as their Liberty Party candidate for president. This was the only national political party convention ever to be held in Arkansas. Running against Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harvey garnered about 800 votes in the 1932 U.S. presidential election.
Coin Harvey had some very curious ideas for how the country’s economy should work. His theory was that taxation could be eliminated as a means of financing the government and public works. He proposed establishing one national bank for the entire nation. The National Bank would be everybody’s bank, with branches all over, of course, but the multiplicity of independent banks would be eliminated. Since everybody’s money would be in The Bank, when money was paid to other people or to various businesses, the funds would always come right back into The Bank. So, as the theory went, The Bank could pay the salaries of the public officials, and the money would be deposited right back into the bank again. The Bank would pay for public buildings and roads and highways and railroads, and the money would pass through various accounts right back into The Bank again.
So, Harvey reasoned, there would be no need for taxes, since the money would just continue to circulate, paying for public works and flowing back into the bank. Harvey challenged the economic experts to prove his system couldn’t work. Evidently he convinced very few!
Editor’s note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and can be contacted by email at email@example.com, or call 621-1621.