Then & Now

Modern Arkansas in Contrast to the Traveler

"As the world imagines us…As we really are."

In one reaction to its negative Traveler image, Arkansans took the opportunity to compare the old with the new. Whether or not the old image was accurate, new Arkansas was wonderful.

This was the theme in the Arkansas display at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where James Fortenbury’s painting of the Traveler decorated a modern setting connecting the state to industry and commerce. The hope was that no one who visited this display could believe that the old Traveler had any relevance, except historical, to present day Arkansas.

"Then" and "now" appeared pinned to the chests of Arkansas Masons at a Boston convention in 1895, on ribbons with the Traveler scene (“As the world imagines us”) above a picture of Little Rock’s modern Masonic Temple (“As we really are”). Civic leaders such as Governor Charles Brough, Historic Arkansas Museum founder Louise Loughborough, and best-selling author Bernie Babcock evoked the Traveler as something to be left in the dust of modern Arkansas.