“Sunken Dreams” documentary about Monte Ne Resort showing in Rogers

Ever been to the Monte Ne Chicken House? It’s a restaurant just East of Rogers near Beaver Lake with no menu. You sit, you order a drink, and they begin bringing out the most delicious bean soup, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans you’ve ever tasted. It’s not in Fayetteville, but it is certainly on of Northwest Arkansas’ best secrets.

Way before there even was a Beaver Lake, and before the Monte Ne Chicken House began serving up their delicious fried chicken, there was a place called Monte Ne resort near where the restaurant is now. University of Arkansas graduate student Nathan Crowder produced a documentary on story of the place that will be showing at the Rogers Historical Museum beginning Wednesday.

The 30 minute documentary, called “Sunken Dreams: William ‘Coin’ Harvey and the Monte Ne, Arkansas” will be showing during the museum’s regular open hours from June 3 through 14.

The film tells the story of William H. “Coin” Harvey. Harvey came to Northwest Arkansas in 1900 and purchased land southeast of Rogers. Over the next decade he built three hotels, an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, and railroad spur. He even imported a gondola from Italy and billed Monte Ne as “the only place in America where a gondola meets the trains.”

By the 1920s Harvey’s resort had fallen on hard times and he had become increasingly pessimistic about the future. Convinced that the fall of civilization was coming soon, he wanted to leave an explanation and warning for the future. He announced plans for construction of a 130-foot-tall obelisk which he called “the Pyramid.” Harvey ran out of money before he could build the Pyramid. But he did complete what he called its “foyer,” an amphitheater at the southern end of the Monte Ne lagoon.

It was in that amphitheater that the Liberty Party nominated Harvey for the Presidency in 1931. Harvey died in 1936 and was buried in a concrete vault on resort property. When Beaver Lake was created in the 1960s, it enveloped most of the resort. But the story of Harvey and Monte Ne continues to interest area residents and tourists alike.

Nathan will be at the Museum from 10 to 4 on Saturday, June 14, for the DVD release of his film. He will answer questions and sign copies of the documentary.

Check out the you tube video of the opening of the film below. Have you ever been to the old Monte Ne resort site?

[Photo by Clinton Steeds via Flickr and Creative Commons 2.0]