John Drennen made profitable choices during his diverse professional life as merchant, bank trustee, plantation owner, and Indian agent.
He linked his future to the fledgling town of Van Buren, and built his family home here, overlooking the Arkansas River and the site of the ferry he operated.
The railroad bridge below survives as a physical reminder of Drennen's web of enterprises and his vision for the future. It rests on property he owned and formed an important link in the Fort Smith and Little Rock Railroad, a company he founded. Completed 30 years after his death (1885), the bridge awaited the end of the Civil War and reconstruction before joining the expanding network of rails that transformed American commerce.
Left side: Over 100 years ago, a steam train (ca. 1900) passes below where you are standing, testifying to the importance of John Drennen's Fort Smith and Little Rock Railroad.
Right top: Railroad bridge construction, 1885. Taken from the Fort Smith side of the river opposite Van Buren, this photo shows the construction of the railroad bridge, the Drennen-Scott Estate (upper left white fenced area) and the Crawford County Court House (lower right near the top of the stone pier).
Right bottom: Railroad Bridge
taken from front yard of house. ca. 1900. Taken from almost the same perspective as this wayside exhibit, this photo shows the completed railroad bridge ca. 1900. The same white fence shown in the photo above is visible in the foreground.