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Duke new Depot Museum curator

By Staff, 08/15/17 2:26 PM

JUDY DUKE 002

PRESCOTT – Judy Duke has been named curator of the Nevada County Depot and Museum.

Her first day in office began at 10 a.m. Tuesday when she and Depot Board President Paul Ridgell were discussing what needs to be done and ways to improve the museum to attract more visitors.

Duke has been interested in the depot and museum for a long time and has been on its board since 2010. She plans on making the depot and museum more accessible to the public by scheduling more activities.

Ridgell said the museum can easily be used for educational activities, especially where it concerns the history of Prescott and Nevada County.

In addition, Duke plans to have more timeline displays instead of random displays, but the first order of business will be working with the Friends of the Prairie D’Ane Battlefield and Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office to help raise the necessary funds to purchase the more than 800 acres of the Civil War battlefield property. At this time the depot needs more than $36,000 to buy the land. A public meeting will be held at the Nevada County Library from 10-11 a.m. on Aug. 24 to discuss plans and the future of Prairie D’Ane and Elkins Ferry.

One of Duke’s goals is to eliminate the clutter at the museum and be more specific with the displays, which will be rotated out on a regular basis. “We want to get and keep people involved,” she said. “There’s a lot of history in Prescott and Nevada County people aren’t taking advantage of or learning about.” She pointed out the area is rich in railroad history as Prescott was literally created by the railroad. It’s also rich in Civil War history as three battles were fought in the county, political history as the county has had governors and Congressmen hail from Prescott and Nevada County, river history, the Trail of Tears, Native American history as the area was home to the Caddo, Choctaw and Quapaw nations, military history and has Hwy. 67, once a major thoroughfare in the nation.

Ridgell and Duke pointed out Prescott could be the hub of a scenic byway from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism as there’s a program underway to promote Heritage tourism with the northern expedition of the Camden Campaign of the Civil War. Because of its location, Prescott would be the ideal location for a state visitor’s center, and land for the center could be donated from the Prairie D’Ane property to help promote tourism locally.

Ridgell said Prescott is in good shape for the center as it has two interstate exits and access to three battlefields. “We need a convention center in Prescott, though. This could be the hub for Heritage tourism as visitors could also visit Murfreesboro, Camden and Washington. Battlefield tours could be offered by appointment.” He added the depot and museum is working on a database of Civil War soldiers from both sides who fought in the local campaigns for those who study geneaology.

Duke said she will also look into having historic holiday displays throughout the year, and would like to have “tea parties” where young girls are taught “social graces” and etiquette. “I’ll do all I can while I’m here.”

Prescott and Nevada County, she added are rich in heritage. “Our motto is ‘Share the History’, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Duke talked about possibly having historic education classes where the students learn how to make soap, use a washboard and spinning. “I’ve always been interested in helping the community,” she said. She is a former executive director of the Chamber, is a member of Leadership Nevada County and is on the depot and museum’s board of directors.

The depot and museum, Duke said, will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

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