The Ozark Trails Association

The Resort's Downfall

Harvey blamed poor roads in part for his resort’s failure to make the profits he had hoped for. By the 1910s the car was beginning to replace the train. The old style of resort such as Monte Ne suffered for 2 reasons.

First, tourists traveling by car often wanted to stay in a variety of places rather than remain at one resort for a week or two. Second, roads in much of the country, including Arkansas and surrounding states, were generally in very poor condition and were not well-marked.

By 1911 Harvey was working to promote a turnpike between Monte Ne and Muskogee, Oklahoma. But this project, which Harvey called the Great White Way (PDF), was never built.

Harvey blamed the community of Rogers for not supporting his plan, but the businessmen of Rogers had been advised by engineers that the cost would be far greater than Harvey estimated. Read a report on the sale by auction of lots (PDF) at Monte Ne in 1913.

Founding of the Ozark Trails Association

Even though that project failed, Harvey was certainly not alone in supporting better roads. In 1913 Harvey led in the founding of the Ozark Trails Association. A part of the “better roads” movement, the association’s goals were to promote better roads and mark them for the convenience of the traveling public.

That same year Harvey ran for Congress on a platform that included the building of a system of national highways. But Harvey lost the democratic primary to John W Tillman, who had strong support in Washington County.

1914 Railroad to Monte Ne

In 1914 the railroad to Monte Ne went broke and passenger service ended. Monte Ne was now completely dependent upon the roads to bring tourists to the resort. The Bank of Monte Ne closed that same year; Harvey told reporters that the bank took too much of his time, and the business would not justify hiring someone to run it.

The Ozark Trails Association continued to meet, print maps and guidebooks, and erect road markers across the Midwest and Southwest. While the organization’s stated purpose was to promote good roads, for Harvey the goal was to promote Monte Ne; as he himself once said, “all roads lead to Monte Ne.” And indeed Harvey’s resort figured prominently on the obelisk-shaped markers the group erected.

An Association Divided

But the resort continued to disappoint Harvey. By 1920 there was division in the Ozark Trails Association ranks, and Harvey seems to have been the source. A number of delegations walked out of the 1921 meeting, stating they had had “all the experience with Mr. Harvey we care to have.”

Harvey had never lost his interest in public affairs. He continued to write on a variety of topics ranging from the need for character education to national finance. He also continued his friendship with William Jennings Bryan, who visited Monte Ne from time to time. View Harvey's poster on character building (PDF).

By 1920 Harvey was becoming increasingly pessimistic about the future of the nation and indeed of civilization in general. He withdrew from the presidency of the Ozark Trails Association and started raising funds to build a 130-foot-tall obelisk at Monte Ne. This obelisk would not mark highway routes; instead it would point the way from disaster for future generations.