Here in the Natural State, places like this are all around us and they are free to enjoy. People have been known to soak up the beauty offered here at all hours of the day. On any cloud-free night, with the big sky above you, Inspiration Point becomes something altogether different as you bask in the exceptional, broad expanse above you to see the glimmer of thousands of beautiful stars overhead dotting up the sky.
Inspiration Point is a panoramic view located just 5 scenic miles west of Eureka Springs on Highway 62. This part of town is referred to as Eureka Springs West.
This favorite overlook sits on a cliff 550 steep feet above the twisting White River. The river forms a horseshoe curve below. The horseshoe can also be seen as a perfect omega shape which, as the story goes, was a sacred symbol for the Osage Indians.
Charles Mowers, a German-born engineer and inventor, came from Texas to the Ozark Mountains around 1900 to hunt wild game. He bought the land known as the Big Rock Candy Mountain in 1928 and began construction of a “castle” based on his memories of buildings along the Rhine River. Using stone quarried on the property, he incorporated an unusual building method he called Egyptian Rock Work.
Having worked in the oil industry, even inventing a special drill bit still in use today, it is believed that he found the area during the very brief time when there was talk of oil exploration near Eureka Springs. At any rate, he found Big Rock Candy Mountain and decided to build a hunting lodge. It is called "the Castle" because Mr. Mowers styled it after German "castles" in the Rhine River Valley. These buildings were really just large houses with no turrets.
The Castle is made entirely of stone, which is dolomite limestone, quarried 7 miles away in Beaver, Arkansas. It was hauled laboriously to the site and construction took between 2-3 years. Most of the area stonemasons in the area at that time were Irish. To entice them to work way out in the country, Mowers paid them 25% more than they could earn in town -- a whopping 25 cents an hour instead of 20 cents! The resulting building is unique, with cut stones in every shape imaginable. The floors are stone 6-8 inches thick, and the walls are actually a double layer of stone with a small air space between the layers, resulting in a final width of 22" in the main wing, and 18" in a second wing.
The uniquely cut and laid stone is emphasized by the use of rope mortar. The mortar in each room is painted a different color, done by the second owner in 1932. The second wing, holding a great room and a bedroom, also used "rubble construction" on its exterior walls, presenting an interesting contrast of techniques within a single room. That occurs because there are 4 fireplaces, and those interior walls were built first, using the original shaped-stone method. The exterior walls were added afterwards, and though the main wing walls all match, we think the rubble walls of the second wing were created after the stock market crash of 1929.
Due to the crash, Mr. Mower's accounts were frozen, he lost a great deal of money, and perhaps had to complete his lodge with the rock at hand. The largest stone in the house is a 9-foot long, 22" thick lintel over a door. It is estimated to weigh approximately 2 tons. The smallest rock found in the rubble-style walls is a mere 2" square! After the stock market crash of 1929, Mowers abandoned his castle and returned to Texas.
The castle was finished in 1932 by Reverend Charles Scoville (1869–1938), a renowned preacher of the Disciples of Christ, who planned to use it as a retreat. The 474 acres also included an auditorium (the Zepplin) with perfect acoustics. It was built to seat 1,000. Some believe that it was modeled after the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
It was Reverend Scoville that named the site Inspiration Point.
After the passing of Reverend Scoville, his widow gave the property (to be used as a conference and retreat center) to Phillips University based in Enid, Oklahoma. Ten years later, however, this project was abandoned, and Henry Hobart, formerly dean of fine arts at Phillips, joined with Gertrude Stockard, director of music at Eureka Springs High School, to organize a music camp, initially known as Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony (IPFAC), which held its first session in the summer of 1950.
Hobart and his wife financed extensive repairs to the buildings with loans and donations from Eureka Springs businesses. Some furnishings were obtained from government surplus stores. Practice pianos were donated by area churches and schools. Today, IPFAC is what we now know as Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point - an annual summer opera festival and opera training program right here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This festival serves as a rich training ground for young, up-and-coming opera professionals.
Several alumni of the festival have gone on to have prominent performing careers, including Mark Delavan, Stephen Dickson, Tom Fox, Carroll Freeman, Beverly Hoch, Hei-Kyung Hong, Sherman Ray Jacobs, William Johns, Patricia Johnson, Gwendolyn Jones, Marquita Lister, Chris Merritt, Leona Mitchell, Brian Montgomery, Latonia Moore, Louis Otey, Kay Paschal, Cyndia Sieden, Richard Vernon, and Jennifer Zetlan.
Inspiration Point is also a federally documented, year-round nesting habitat for American bald eagles, giving us another reason to see the majesty of this beautiful place in America!
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission plays an important role in keeping The Natural State true to its name. During the last 100 years, the agency has overseen the protection, conservation and preservation of various species of fish and wildlife in Arkansas, including the beautiful bald eagles of Inspiration Point.
An essential part of ensuring healthy wildlife populations involves people. Programs with The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are geared toward general awareness for the public of ethical and sound management principles.
Inspiration Point is the only turnout open to the public on Highway 62 where you can stop to enjoy such a magnificent vista. The Ozark Mountains weave before you on the western horizon, mists often rise mysteriously from the river in early morning, and our glorious evening sunsets are certainly awe inspiring.
This big-sky view will let you enjoy a broad vista of glorious sunsets, oncoming storms, unique cloud formations, or a breathtaking sunlit sky. Inspiration Point Overlook is located next to Castle Antiques, which has an open porch for you to rest your feet while you enjoy the scenic view.
Be sure not to miss Inspiration Point - "The Best View on Highway 62."