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The Ozark Trails, New Mexico — William Hope Harvey

William Hope (“Coin”) Harvey (1851-1936)

The inventor of the Ozark Trails started on this ambitious project late in life. Set back by the defeat of William Jennings Bryan’s presidential run and the crash of the Free Silver movement, Harvey retreated to the hills of northwest Arkansas to reinvent himself at age 61.

Born August 16, 1851 near Buffalo, (West) Virginia, Harvey received formal schooling to his sixteenth birthday. At 17, Harvey began working in his older brother’s law office, passing the bar at 19, and opening his own practice in Barboursville, West Virginia. Harvey then started on an itinerant law career in Ohio and Illinois, including a stint in Chicago.

In 1883, Harvey made a trip to the booming silver fields of southwest Colorado. Intrigued with silver mining, he gave up his law practice and moved with his family to Colorado.

There he invested in the Silver Bell Mine, a small tunnel operation located approximately eight miles north of Ouray. Taking a hit with the drop in the price of silver, Harvey sold the mine in 1887, and opened a combination law and real estate development business in Denver. Harvey next branched out to Pueblo, where he started another law and real estate business.

In Pueblo, Harvey worked his promotional skills, boosting the “Palace of Minerals,” an exhibit promoting Colorado’s mineral resources. The exhibit included a large statue of “King Coal,” made of hundreds of pieces of coal and weighing some 11,000 pounds. Despite its impressiveness, the exhibit foundered and Harvey left Pueblo and relocated in Ogden, Utah.

After the Silver Panic of 1893, Harvey moved back to Chicago and established the Coin Publishing Company. As publisher, Harvey became a well-known advocate of the Free Silver movement, authoring numerous pamphlets and books on the free coinage of silver, including Coin’s Financial School (1894) and A Tale of Two Nations (1894). From his pen came dozens of jingles promoting silver. From this activity Harvey gained the nickname “Coin.”

In 1896, Harvey became an adviser to William Jennings Bryan’s presidential race, and served as Chairman of the Democratic Party’s Ways and Means committee. Let down by Bryan’s defeat, Harvey retreated from public life in 1899 when the Democrats abandoned the Free Silver cause.

Xanadu on the White River

In 1900, Harvey purchased 320 acres in the upper White River Valley near Rogers, Arkansas — an area he first visited during Bryan’s campaign.

Renaming it Monte Ne, meaning "mountain waters", Harvey began developing the site as a resort in 1901, turning it into the only place in the U.S. “where gondolas meet the trains.”

To access the remote area, Harvey built a five-mile railroad spur from the town of Lowell to his private depot, where guests traveled the last half-mile to Monte Ne in boats, including Venetian gondolas.

A Pyramid to Western Civilization

Though inherently an idealist, Harvey held a deeply pessimistic belief that civilization — as he knew it — would soon end. After the collapse of the Ozark Trails, Harvey started to build a 130-foot tall pyramid at the resort. The Pyramid and its adjacent vaults would contain hermetically sealed books describing the rise and fall of civilization. Harvey believed future earthquakes and volcanoes would sink the Pyramid, necessitating the fabrication of heavy steel plates to instruct explorers to dig below and “find the record and the cause of death of a former civilization.”

Harvey never completed the Pyramid, and ironically his resort sank underwater during the construction of the White River Dam in the 1960s.

Recently lower water levels at Beaver Lake have exposed parts of Harvey’s long-submerged resort. There is even a hope to build a 1/10th-scale model of the Pyramid.

Harvey pursued politics again in 1932, running for President of the Liberty Party. He received 53,000 votes but failed to become a nominee.

In 1934, Harvey blamed the crippling drought on automobiles, claiming fumes prevented the absorption of moisture that would return as rain.

He died two years later, falling into a coma after an attack of intestinal influenza.

An obituary in the Washington Post said he “claimed two successes in his life although it was his heroic ‘failures’ that made him nationally famous.”

William Hope Harvey is buried with his son at Monte Ne.

Sources Consulted/Further Reading

Kennan, Clara B. “The Ozark Trails and Arkansas’ Pathfinder, Coin Harvey.” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. VII Winter 1948, No. 4: 299-316.

Lawler, Nan M. The Ozark Trails Association. M.A. thesis, University of Arkansas, 1991.

Skipper, James. “Monte Ne, Arkansas: Lost Resort of W.H. ‘Coin’ Harvey” (ca.2005)

Image Sources

http://www.coinharvey.com/pages/school.htm

Skipper, James. “Monte Ne, Arkansas: Lost Resort of W.H. ‘Coin’ Harvey” (ca.2005)

http://users.aristotle.net/~russjohn/history/montene.html

Copyright © 2006