Another old-time north­west Arkansas re­sort re­called

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - COMMUNITY - Now & Then JERRY NI­CHOLS Colum­nist

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 joe369@cen­tu­ry­, or call 621-1621.

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