The creation of lakes and reservoirs often leads to the emergence of sunken ghost towns that are often forgotten. Northwest Arkansas’ Beaver Lake encompasses what was once a luxurious resort, the ruins of which can still be seen today. The resort featured three hotels, a golf course, a tennis court and the state’s first indoor swimming pool. Two of his hotels were among the largest log buildings in the world.
Today it sits on the edge of Beaver Lake in Arkansas’ stunning Ozark Mountains. It existed from 1901 to the mid-1930s. In Clark County, Nevada is an abandoned Mormon ghost town called St. Thomas that was inundated by the formation of Lake Mead (it can be seen today when the water is low).
Monte Ne – The luxury hotel of the Ozarks
Monte Ne was founded by a teacher, lawyer, silver mine owner and entrepreneur named William Harvey. He bought the land in the 1900’s to create the ideal vacation destination in the Ozarks. The name he chose for the community was “Monte Ne” – “Monte” is Spanish for “mountain” while “Ne” is a Native American word for “water”.
Monte Ne was about 5 miles south of Rogers, Arkansas. Back then, people didn’t come by car. Instead, people came from far away by train to stay at the luxury resort. In order to accommodate the guests, he had an additional eight kilometers of track laid.
In his day, Monte Ne was billeted as “The only place in America where a gondola meets the train.“At the end of the railway line, imported Italian gondolas took vacationers across the lagoon to the hotels.
Activities at Monte Ne included fishing, boating, fox hunts, bands and more. In 1905, a stay at the resort cost $1 per day and $6 for a week’s stay.
History of Monte Ne & Owner William Harvey
William Harvey initially founded the Monte Ne Investment Company with $48,000 of his own money and $52,000 of investors’ money. The first hotel was completed in 1901. The hotel was three stories high and had two wings.
His plans to build five large hotels were never fully realized. He sold the Hotel Monte Ne, and the hotel underwent several name changes, including White Hotel in 1912, Randola Inn in 1918, Hotel Frances in 1925, and Sleepy Valley Hotel in 1930.
At one point, William Harvey was even a presidential candidate. He founded the Liberty Party and they held their national convention in Monte Ne. It was expected that 10,000 delegates would attend, although only 786 actually showed up. It was the only presidential convention held in Arkansas.
In the end, the Liberty Party merged with the Jobless Party while Harvey ran for president as an independent. He finished fifth and received around 53,000 votes. Franklin D. Roosevelt won the election, overwhelmingly defeating Herbert Hoover.
Submerge and the ruins of Monte Ne today
The Monte Ne Resort proved financially unsuccessful and went bankrupt soon after Harvey’s death in 1936. It was then sold in lots and flooded with the creation of Beaver Lake in 1964.
The complex died out in stages, with the larger hotels remaining active longer. The large Missouri Row and Oklahoma Row hotels became schools for boys and girls, respectively.
Today the area is owned and managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and has a boat ramp.
- submerged: 1964
- Resort period: 1901 to the 1930s
The Oklahoma Row was one of the hotels and one of the earliest examples of a multi-story concrete structure. Today it is the only surviving building in the spa town that can be seen at normal lake level.
Over the years, the ruins of Monte Ne have been destroyed and neglected. Some ruins are reportedly now surrounded by high fences and graffiti. The fence was erected after some had to be rescued by firefighters after someone got something down the chimney.
- Listed: On the National Register of Historic Places
- Status: In a poor, ruined condition
When the water level of the lake is low, more ruins appear. People can see the top of the amphitheater and the retaining wall built for the pyramid (which was never built). Visitors can see the basements of the hotels and massive concrete chairs. Some hotels (like the Oklahoma Row) have been relocated from their original locations.
People can also dive into the lake to see the ruins – the water is fairly clear and water temperatures are okay.