Stepping into the ghost town of Rush, Arkansas is like stepping into a slice of history. This town in North Central Arkansas is almost as isolated today as it was in its heyday. This isolation has allowed pieces of the past to survive which allows modern day visitors to get a taste of what life might have been like in an Ozark mountain boom town.
A few abandoned houses and businesses still stand and you will also find the remnants of rock wall foundations and the leavings of the old zinc mining operations that originally brought people to the area.
The mine left behind old and amazingly well preserved tools as well as holes in the sides of the mountains.
You will definitely want to stop in the parking area and explore a bit!
There is a short walking loop with interpretive signage that is great for all ages. If you want to explore further there is also a hiking trail that takes you up and around the mountain. You will find more detail about these hikes later in the post.
Location of Rush, Arkansas
The ghost town of Rush is located near the Buffalo River, not far from where the Buffalo River runs into the White River. It is also near Bull Shoals White River State Park and the famous Gaston’s Resort.
The town is located about 4 miles down County Road 6035 off of Arkansas 14 which is about 10 miles south of the small town of Yellville, Arkansas. There is a sign at the turn off. The road to the ghost town is paved and well maintained.
The first parking area will be on your left just after the row of abandoned buildings. This is where you will find the trailhead to the Morning Star Trail.
If you keep going on down the road you will come to a fork. To the right is the Rush Campground and to the left is another parking area. This parking area is near Rush Landing which is an access point for the Buffalo River.
History of the ghost town of Rush, Arkansas…How was it born and how did it become a ghost town?
Before the 1880’s very few people were living in this remote area of Arkansas. But then zinc ore was discovered on Rush Creek and the town began to boom.
Before they begin mining zinc the early prospectors originally believed that they had discovered an ore that contained silver. It wasn’t until they did the first firing that they realized that their dreams of silver riches were not to come true.
One of the interpretive signs at the ghost town of Rush says, “Legend has it, broke, discouraged, and out of grub, they offered to sell their claim to another prospector for a can of oysters. The man turned the offer down.”
That man may not have wanted the claim but eventually another man, George Chase, purchased it and established the Morning Star Mining Company.
Zinc mining became the industry that dominated this area. There were as many as 10 mining companies in these mountains, but The Morning Star Mine was one of the biggest and most well known.
People began arriving to establish their claims and to work for the mining company. By the 1890’s there was a thriving community along the local creeks. Businesses were established to serve the residents. The town continued to grow throughout its heyday during WW!.
Rush had barbers, hotels, restaurants, a post office, a general store, and even a pool hall. It had everything needed to support a population of about 5,000 people who lived along Rush Creek and in the surrounding area.
After WW! the bottom fell out of zinc prices and the town began to empty out as quickly as it had grown. By WWII the processing mills were being dismantled for salvage. The town barely hung on through the mid 1950s when the post office finally closed and the town began to fade away completely.
There were a couple of people who still lived in the area into the 1960’s, but in 1972 the town was officially declared a ghost town.
Today the ghost town of Rush, Arkansas is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its remaining mines and buildings are part of the Buffalo National River and the area is managed by the National Park Service.
Trails in the Ghost Town of Rush, Arkansas
You will definitely want to wander some of the trails around Rush. There are two main trails.
The Morning Star Mine Loop Trail
This is a short, but fascinating loop trail with interpretive signs. Here you will learn about the history of the town and see all the highlights that remain of the old town.
Across the road from the trail you will see several old houses and the location of the general store that served the town of Rush.
Take the trail to the left and you will pass the smelter which is the oldest structure in Rush and dates back to 1886. Next you will find the remains of a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, the mine’s processing mill, and several other ruins. There are also some great views through the woods of the abandoned homes.
Even though this loop is only about .3 miles there are plenty of signs along the way and it is interesting to take your time and read each one.
About halfway around the loop you will see a trail juncture that heads up the hill. This is the start of the Rush Mountain Trail. If you aren’t wanting to take that just continue following the Morning Star Mine loop trail back to the parking area.
The Rush Mountain Trail
About 1/2 way around the Morning Star Mine Loop Trail is the beginning of the Rush Mountain Trail. This claims to be a loop trail but for those who aren’t interested in a bushwhack you might be better off treating it as an out and back trail.
It is a little more than 2 miles long.
The trail will head straight uphill from the Morning Star Mine Loop Trail pretty steeply for about 1/4 of a mile. Fortunately it does mostly level off after that. There are a few ups and downs but nothing too difficult.
Along this trail you will see many of the abandoned mines. The openings of the old mines are closed behind iron gates for the safety of the visitors, but you can peer through the gates and imagine what it might have been like to go down into them. For safety’s sake don’t try to access the interior of the mines.
The gates have been made accessible for the bats that live within the old mines.
As you hike this trail you will eventually reach a sign that says “not maintained.” Take this seriously. It is possible to bushwhack back to the parking area from here but it is much easier to simply turn around and go back the way you came.
Campground at Rush Arkansas
After exploring the ghost town and walking the trails you can head on down the road which turns to a well maintained gravel road. If you take the fork to the right you will find a rustic, but beautiful Rush campground.
You will cross Rush Creek to get to the campground. This is normally accessible but that can change during times of high water.
At this first come first serve campsite you will find 12 sites for tent camping. No RV’s are allowed.
Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring but no electricity. The cost is $16 during the summer and free in the winter. No trash services are available so do plan to pack out whatever you bring in.
Although rustic this is a beautiful and peaceful campground on the Buffalo River.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to the ghost town of Rush. I think that it is one of the most unique and interesting outdoor destinations in Arkansas.