Harvey blamed poor roads in part for his resort’s
failure to make the profits he had hoped
for. By the 1910s the car was beginning to
replace the train. The old style of resort
such as Monte Ne suffered for two reasons.
First, tourists traveling by car often
wanted to stay in a variety of places rather
than remain at one resort for a week or two.
Second, roads in much of the country,
including Arkansas and surrounding states,
were generally in very poor condition and
were not well-marked.
motorists in Northwest Arkansas it no
doubt sometimes seemed that every road
was the wrong road! Road repair
often was left to volunteer groups of
neighbors like these residents of the
Electric Springs community.
By 1911 Harvey was
working to promote a turnpike between Monte
Ne and Muskogee, Oklahoma. But this project,
which Harvey called the “Great White Way,”
was never built. Harvey blamed the community
of Rogers for not supporting his plan, but
the businessmen of Rogers had been advised
by engineers that the cost would be far
greater than Harvey estimated.
Even though that project failed, Harvey was
certainly not alone in supporting better
roads. In 1913 Harvey led in the founding of
the Ozark Trails Association. A part of the
“better roads” movement, the association’s
goals were to promote better roads and mark
them for the convenience of the traveling
That same year Harvey ran for
Congress on a platform that included the
building of a system of national highways.
But Harvey lost the Democratic primary to
John W. Tillman, who had strong support in
In 1914 the railroad to Monte Ne went broke
and passenger service ended. Monte Ne was
now completely dependent upon the roads to
bring tourists to the resort. The Bank of
Monte Ne closed that same year; Harvey told
reporters that the bank took too much of his
time, and the business would not justify
hiring someone to run it.
Above and left, cover and page from a 1919
Ozark Trails Association booklet. The
obelisk design of the route markers is
similar to the design Harvey later used for
his never-completed “pyramid”
at Monte Ne.
The Ozark Trails Association continued to meet, print
maps and guidebooks, and erect road markers across the Midwest and
Southwest. While the organization’s stated purpose was to promote good
roads, for Harvey the goal was to promote Monte Ne; as he himself once
said, “all roads lead to Monte Ne.” And indeed Harvey’s resort
figured prominently on the obelisk-shaped
markers the group erected.
But the resort
continued to disappoint Harvey. By 1920
there was division in the Ozark Trails
Association ranks, and Harvey seems to have
been the source. A number of delegations
walked out of the 1921 meeting, stating they
had had “all the experience with Mr. Harvey
we care to have.”
Harvey had never lost his
interest in public affairs. He continued to
write on a variety of topics ranging from
the need for character education to national
finance. He also continued his friendship
with William Jennings Bryan, who visited
Monte Ne from time to time.
William Jennings Bryan, center, visits
Harvey at Monte Ne in the 1910s.
known for his light-colored jacket and straw
By 1920 Harvey
was becoming increasingly pessimistic about
the future of the nation and indeed of
civilization in general. He withdrew from
the presidency of the Ozark Trails
Association and started raising funds to
build a 130-foot-tall obelisk at Monte Ne.
This obelisk would not mark highway routes;
instead it would point the way from disaster
for future generations.