Volume 1, Number 6
The old Dubuque-Forsyth road ran from Dubuque, Arkansas, a settlement on White River about two miles below the state line, to Forsyth, Missouri. It is thought to have been opened for travel in the late 1830's or early 1840's.
From Dubuque, the old road crossed West Sugar Loaf Creek and ran northward along the bench lands and flood plains of White River to Elbow Shoal located on the Missouri-Arkansas state line. At this point the road crossed the river at a ford on the shoal in the early days and by ferry boat just below the shoal in later years.
From Elbow Shoal the road ran north and west along the divide west of Elbow Creek, through the glade lands, across the head of Yocum Creek and to the mouth of Cedar Creek. After crossing Cedar Creek the road sought higher elevations along the upper bench lands of White River and Beaver Creek to a ford on Beaver Creek a short distance above the mouth of the stream. From the Beaver Creek ford the road ascended the main divide between Beaver Creek and White River. It ran up the divide in a northerly direction some three miles to a point where it turned west down the slopes to the old Graham place (later known as the old Barker place) on White River. From that point the road followed the river bottom to Forsyth.
The Dubuque-Forsyth road was used as an early mail route between the two points and served the settlers living along White River and the adjacent tributaries. Until 1851 steamboats were unable to pass over Elbow Shoal and Dubuque was the uppermost point for steamboat travel. Salt, gunpowder and other merchandise were hauled by ox-wagons from the steamboat landing at Dubuque to the merchants at Forsyth and other points upstream. Return shipments of cotton, furs, lead ore, beeswax etc. were loaded at Dubuque for "down river" shipment.
During the Civil War, Dubuque was a rebel stronghold with a lead smelter where bullets were molded for the Confederate forces. It was the scene of several minor engagements. The old Dubuque-Forsyth road was used by both Union and Confederate forces in their forays against each other. It is thought that the Confederate cavalry under the command of Long Haired Emmett McDonald dashed northward over a portion of this road in their assault on, and the capture of, Fort Lawrence on Beaver Creek.
In the post Civil War period, cattle rustlers and horse thieves used the old road to cross the state line into Arkansas to escape pursuit by Taney County Bald Knobbers. It was also used in cattle drives to northern markets. Quarantined cattle have been known to stray across White River and up the old Dubuque-Forsyth road toward Missouri markets When Arkansas cattle were quarantined.
Today Bull Shoals Lake and the brushy wilderness have forever buried much of its past, but at one time it was the "life line" road of the early settlers on White River above Dubuque, Arkansas.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly