Paris will now have one more reason to be a draw for tourism after Bill 1628, filed by Representative Mary Bentley, passed renaming a portion of Highway 22, from Dardanelle to Fort Smith the “True Grit Trail” after the book written by Arkansas native Charles Portis.
Representative Mary Bentley proposed the bill with the belief that “the popularity of the tale and the attention it brings to the state make a compelling case for renaming a portion of Arkansas Highway 22.”
First published in the Saturday Evening Post and later released as a novel, “True Grit” is told from the perspective of a woman named Mattie Ross, who recounts the time when she was 14 and sought retribution for the murder of her father by Tom Chaney. Her travels take her from her home in Dardanelle along Highway 22 to Ft.Smith.
Senator Gary was in support of the Bill to pass and presented it to the Senate for the House Sponsor.
Mayor Daniel Rogers said that he is excited about the potential that the Act 469 could bring to the community and the opportunity for additional tourism.
“We are bound to have more people traveling through our city, and that allows us to show off our fine community, our downtown, and the businesses we have here,” said Rogers.
“Hopefully we can use this opportunity to further advance Paris as a city in Arkansas that people want to visit and tour along with the beauty of our region, the lodge, and the other tourist destinations our north Logan county community provides.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson noted in a recent weekly address that “True Grit” is one of his favorite novels, and he enjoyed both versions of the movie.
“I relate to the story because I spent a number of years as the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Arkansas, the area where Rooster Cogburn upheld the law,” Hutchinson said. “Tourist sites related to movies remain popular years after the movie has left the theaters. The True Grit Trail will prove as popular. The state is wise to mark and preserve this trail to attract fans of the book, the author, and the movies.”
PACC Executive Director Tonya Baumgartner said he thinks it will be great for the area and she hopes it will bring visitors down Highway 22.
“I have not had a chance to visit with the board about events for the future but with the Big To Do on Hwy 22 along the entire trail we could possibly tie them together on focus on advertising them together along the True Grit Trail.”
Tourism is Arkansas’s No. 2 industry, the governor added. Every region of the state benefits from tourism which provides more than 67,000 jobs in Arkansas.