In a Day’s Drive: The lost town of Monte Ne

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MONTE NE, Ark. (KNWA) — Monte Ne is a city with origins buried underneath the waters of Beaver Lake.

But, what did the city look like before it turned to ruins, and who brought it here?

“The heyday of Monte Ne was probably the 1910s, maybe into the early 1920s. But at the end of the 1920s, it had kind of all gone away,” said Jennifer Sweet, the operations coordinator for the Rogers Historical Museum.

The heart of a city, hidden underwater.

“The first thing around here people think of is what they call the pyramids,” said Sweet.

The pyramids, which is what Sweet refers to as the amphitheater, is one of Monte Ne’s main attractions.

But, it’s not the only thing that Beaver Lake concealed with its water.

She said, “There was also a resort built around the amphitheater, there were three hotels out there, there was also a little town near it. There was a bank…”

The man behind these creations? An eccentric guy named Coin Harvey.

He bought land on what was called Silver Springs in the early 1900s, then changed the name to Monte Ne, which means mountain water.

Harvey built the amphitheater, a resort and hotels.

Sweet said the rest of the city just grew around it.

He even developed easier ways for people to reach his creations; from building railroad connections to bringing in a gondola from Italy.

“So they can go across the lagoon from the railroad to the hotels,” she explained.

The West Virginia native didn’t just touch the Natural State, he set his sights on traveling the country.

Sweet said, “He lived in Colorado for a while. He ran a silver mine, he started a mineral palace in Utah…he traveled around the country and as part of that he came here to Northwest Arkansas.”

Harvey even ran for president of the United States in his time here, founding his own party in the 1930s.

“It’s like the political conventions today where they decided who they were going to nominate for president from their party and they picked Coin Harvey himself who was the founder of Monte Ne,” she said.

Ben Cline with the City of Rogers said it’s people like Harvey who made Rogers what it is today.

He said, “Rogers is made up of people from all over the county and this is just another great story.”

But, the backbone of Monte Ne couldn’t make the newly built city last forever.

Around the 1920s, Harvey sold his hotels and the land turned into a girls camp called Camp Joyzelle.

“It went from the 40s into the 50s, but when they put in Beaver Dam is when it all went underwater,” said Sweet.

Now, you can see the stones barely peeking above the water.

“They had to destroy quite a bit of it because it would have been dangerous to have under the water,” Sweet said. “All that’s left now is there’s one tower, the Oklahoma Row tower which is a tall, three-story concrete tower.”

A tower that sets the lost city in stone forever.

“It dried up almost as quickly as it came,” said Cline. “This health resort that turned into a small town that ran out of money and became a ghost town that is now still a tourist attraction today.”

That serves as a reminder of a city that once was.

“It’s important to know where we came from and to remember how this area used to be before it got so big because I mean Rogers, Arkansas has not always been this big,” Sweet said.

“Rogers wouldn’t be what it was today without that small story out there in Monte Ne and you can’t deny in the impact Coin Harvey has had on this community,” Cline said.

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