110 years since President Taft visited Little Rock

One hundred and ten years ago today (October 24, 1909), William Howard Taft became the third sitting president to visit Little Rock. His visit is the shortest presidential visit to the city, to date.

In this day of touchdowns at airports by politicians on the political stump, it is interesting to note that the shortest visit was made on a train. It was a true “whistle stop” visit.

Taft’s train arrived at Union Station (then a new building, it burned in 1920 and was subsequently replaced by the one currently standing on that site) in Little Rock to a crowd of 15,000.

President Taft stepped from the train, made brief remarks in a hoarse voice that few heard, stepped back onto the train and departed.

That same day he spoke in Texarkana and Arkadelphia. He was on his way to Helena to speak at a ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: Taft stops in Little Rock

One hundred and nine years ago today (October 24, 1909), William Howard Taft became the third sitting president to visit Little Rock. His visit is the shortest presidential visit to the city, to date.

In this day of touchdowns at airports by politicians on the political stump, it is interesting to note that the shortest visit was made on a train. It was a true “whistle stop” visit.

Taft’s train arrived at Union Station (then a new building, it burned in 1920 and was replaced by the one standing there today) in Little Rock to a crowd of 15,000.

President Taft stepped from the train, made brief remarks in a hoarse voice that few heard, stepped back onto the train and departed.

That same day he spoke in Texarkana and Arkadelphia. He was on his way to Helena to speak at a ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: President Taft (briefly) comes to town

taftOne hundred and six years ago today (October 24, 1909), William Howard Taft became the third sitting president to visit Little Rock.  His visit is the shortest presidential visit to the city.  In this day of touchdowns at airports by politicians on the political stump, it is interesting to note that the shortest visit was made on a train.  It was a true “whistle stop” visit.

Taft’s train arrived at Union Station (then a new building, it burned in 1920 and was replaced by the one standing there today) in Little Rock to a crowd of 15,000. President Taft stepped from the train, made brief remarks in a hoarse voice that few heard, stepped back onto the train and departed.

That same day he spoke in Texarkana and Arkadelphia.  He was on his way to Helena to speak at a ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: President Taft Comes to Town

taftOne hundred and five years ago today (October 24, 1909), William Howard Taft became the third sitting president to visit Little Rock.  His visit is the shortest presidential visit to the city.  In this day of touchdowns at airports by politicians on the political stump, it is interesting to note that the shortest visit was made on a train.  It was a true “whistle stop” visit.

Taft’s train arrived at Union Station (then a new building which burned in 1920 and was replaced by the one standing there today) in Little Rock to a crowd of 15,000. President Taft stepped from the train, made brief remarks in a hoarse voice that few heard, stepped back onto the train and departed.

That same day he spoke in Texarkana and Arkadelphia.  He was on his way to Helena to speak at a ceremony.

Sandwiching in History: Union Station

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program each month sponsors a Sandwiching in History tour which familiarize people who live and work in central Arkansas with the historic structures and sites around us. The tours take place on Fridays at noon, last less than an hour, and participants are encouraged to bring their lunches so that they can eat while listening to a brief lecture about the property and its history before proceeding on a short tour.

Today at 12 noon, this month’s tour is the Union Station at 1400 West Markham.  It was constructed in 1921 to replace an earlier depot which burned in 1920.  Since the 1870s there has been a railroad station on or near this site.

The current structure was designed by architect E. M. Tucker of St. Louis and exhibits elements of the Italian Renaissance Revival style. The Missouri Pacific Railroad acquired the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad in 1917 and continued passenger service out of this depot until 1970.

Union Station was a bustling place in its heyday, serving as the point of departure for soldiers leaving Camp Robinson during World War II as well as a whistle stop during Harry S. Truman’s presidential campaign. The building is currently used as office and event space as well as the local Amtrak station.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.