Cotter, Arkansas -- Trout Capital U.S.A. Cotter, Arkansas - Trout Capital U.S.A.

Cotter 2025

West Extension to the White River
Big Spring Park

This is an overview of Big Spring Park. The larger version (1180 x 762, 124k) is here. Many more photos of the model can be seen below.

Location of the Project:

The small railroad boom town of Cotter is located within a bend in Arkansas' White River. Cotter is a well-planned community eight blocks wide. Big Spring Park is located in the tip of the White River's bend, to the west of Cotter's gridded downtown. The park ends the axis of McLean Avenue, Cotter's central east-west street containing City Hall, the Water and Sewer Department and the Fire Department.

Purpose of the Project:

Because Big Spring Park is a vital, sustained point of interest for Cotter, we would like to show the community opportunities for bettering the quality of the park and increasing its value as a community asset. The presence of the riverfront and Big Spring attract many visitors to the cool water. The large number of visitors necessitates building that would not be needed in a lesser used area. Definition of motorways and pathways has become important as the park has become more well-used. In order to secure the river's banks and provide safe public access to the water for visitors, work must be done in the park.

Site Description:

Approaching Big Spring Park from McLean Avenue, you immediately see the white mass of the Spring House, Cotter's own small home. The Spring House can be rented daily for purposes such as community gatherings, reunions, and youth meetings. It was renovated in 1996, and includes two large sized rooms, full kitchen facilities, a back porch designed as a concession stand, and a large deck facing the new softball field. Continuing on the curvy road, you pass the parks white painted concrete block restroom facilities, and the pavilion comes to view at the edge of a piece of sloping land. The pavilion is made of strong metal beams placed on a concrete pad and is roofed with metal. Beside the pavilion, the playground equipment sits. There are swings and there will be an addition soon where toddlers can play. Just down the slope from the pavilion, a sand volleyball court stands. Across the road from the pavilion is a large flat grassy area skirted by paths on two sides. Just beside the slope to the spring is an old structure, the Cotter city well, that stands monument to more difficult times.

Historical Significance:

The Native Americans that traveled through the area first used the spring that has become the focal point for Big Spring Park. It provided a stopping point and point of reference for travelers for many centuries. The first citizens of the city of Cotter channeled the spring into a fountain. Buckets could be easily filled with freshwater all year. Cotter's icehouse, later given to the city, was renamed the Spring House and has become a gathering place for community members.

Design Description:

Park Gateway

  • marking entry to the park

  • reestablishing significance of the park

  • opportunity to advertise events and demonstrate spirit

Landscaping at the Spring House

  • the Spring House is located right on the axis from the front gate, to take advantage of this highly visible location the Spring House should have the parking removed from the front and replaced with beautiful landscaping.  Make the Spring House a showpiece.

  • improve accessibility

Parking expansion North of the Spring House

  • incremental expansion

  • keeps excess traffic out of park reducing damage caused by cars

  • facilitate "event" parking

  • circle drive with grouped parking to preserve "park" atmosphere

Terrace and erosion control at the Big Spring Swing

  • utilization of natural stone

  • obvious project, much support

  • safety, accessibility

Sidewalks and Path Definition

  • established paths, sidewalks, and roads let users know where they are supposed to be, and in the long run, preserves areas that are not intended to be paths or sidewalks

Road Extensions

  • logical movement through park to ease congestion and preserve resources. Improvements at Old Spring Well

  • a "face lift" for a historical treasure

  • incorporates stone steps into the river with a stone encasement of the fountain Bandstand

  • end of axis, monumental area

  • picturesque addition to park

  • increase park's facilities and value

Car and Trailer Parking Definition and Expansion at River

  • a paved area for parking and boat access will decrease erosion, parking confusion, and help preserve the integrity of the river

Cotter Trout Dock Definition

  • relocation to reduce congestion at the spring

Improvements for Rainbow Bridge Trail

  • trail surface, benches, information, and signage

  • connections to other trail systems

Parking Improvements adjacent to Baseball field

  • defining parking to preserve areas that are not meant to be driven on

Pecan Orchard

  • seasonal harvest activity

  • "natural" feature of park that offers a different kind of experience

  • educational opportunities and school outreach potential

  • opportunity for a harvest festival, and community projects

Road and landscaping around Shelter

  • beautifying shelter with well placed screens, defined planting, and parking areas Lighting

  • park safety

  • definition of paths

Big Spring Park Model Photos

This view of Big Spring Park is from above the bridge. Larger photo, 1180 x 762, 111k.

This photo shows a view of Big Spring Park and its relationship to the downtown area, the White River, and the historic bridges. Note the axis leading directly to the park from the downtown area.  Larger photo: 1162 x 752, 118k.

This photo identifies the two historic bridges over the White River.
 The larger one is 1166 x 762, 95k.

Bottom left photo identifies the amazing configuration of the park.
The larger photo is 1184 x 773, 123k.

This photo illustrates some of the beautiful spaces created by the bridge as it passes the park overhead. It also identifies the spring, parking and paving, the bridge, pavilion, band shell, and general configuration of the park. The larger version of the photo is 1184 x 773, 135k.

This view shows the Park Gateway as you approach on McLean Avenue. 
The large version is 1184 x 773, 110k

This is a view looking back through the Park Gateway from Big Spring Park to the downtown area. Note the axis of McLean Avenue. The bigger version is 1166 x 750, 111k.

This photo shows the Pecan Orchard planted in the park. The large version is 1184 x 773, 140k

The final photo identifies improvements in parking and paving, lighting, and erosion control. The larger view is 1184 x 773, 115k.

Big Spring Park Drawings


New Gateway to Big Spring Park

The Old Spring

Improvements to Big Spring Park


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Last updated: 02.03.2004