Sunday, April 21, 2019

Downstream Casino — Quapaw Nation's Link to Pine Bluff

At Downstream Casino RV Park, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma borders

Downstream Casino

When I knew we had a few days between leaving Mount Magazine and getting up to the Kansas City area I was more than happy to find that the Downstream Casino, right at the border of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, and not too many miles from the Arkansas border too.  It has a RV Park that is part of Passport America, $15 per night for water and electric with a dump station.  Was also pleased to find that you can stay one night for free if you are a “Q-Club” Member.  But I also had another reason to stay here…The Quapaw Indians, who own the casino, are a major part of Pine Bluff’s early history.  More specifically, Chief Saracen, who is buried in Pine Bluff’s St. Joseph Cemetery. 

Saracen Bow and Arrows, Pine Bluff Main Library

This is an old picture of the outside of my office at the Pine Bluff Main Library.  My office was behind that red couch, and the door, decorated for Halloween by Miss Ann, the children’s librarian, was the entrance to my office.  The BLACK arrow points to the Saracen Bow and arrows.  Later they were loaned to the State Arts and Science Center and they encased them in a nice plastic case, which when returned was placed up on the wall again, case included.  As far as I know, they are still there…but I can’t promise that.  Back in the late 1700’s two children and their father were captured by the Chickasaw Indians just south of Pine Bluff.  According to Judge Pope, written in 1895: “The news was brought to Saracen. Going to the weeping mother, he said, “When the sun is so high (pointing with his hand) Saracen will bring your children. If Saracen no find them, you will see Saracen no more.” Alone and unaided, he overtook the marauding party near Arkansas Post. With Indian war whoop and tomahawk uplifted, he sprang in upon them and took the children”.  The story goes that he and other Quapaw also tracked down the father and paid a ransom for him.  Later he made the bow and arrow as a ‘toy gift’ to the children…the arrows don’t have sharp points, they are blunt.  The library ended up with them many years ago.

Saracen Mural, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

There is a mural in Pine Bluff which depicts the story of when the two children were rescued.  The Lake across from the County Court House is now Saracen Lake.  Attached to the lake is Saracen Landing, which is where Marcia and I got married back in 2011.  The RV park I lived in for six years is now called Saracen RV Park.  Chief Saracen has become a local saint within Pine Bluff’s History.  To top it all off…

Future Saracen Casino Resort, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

…the Quapaw are building a casino in Pine Bluff, which should be up and going sometime in 2020.  In November 2018 the voters of Arkansas voted to allow for four casinos, one in Hot Springs at the Race Track, one in West Memphis at the Dog Track, and one in Jefferson County and one in Pope County.  So far the Quapaw have been awarded the casino in Jefferson County, but rules for operation of casinos are still progressing…but they Quapaw are ready to build, close to the Mall, as soon as everything is lined up, and they plan to call it the Saracen Casino Resort.

Downstream RV Park   Downstream RV Park

We found that for an overnight stay, or due to the holiday weekend, even a three night stay, this RV Park was just fine.  Of course, if it was full, we would not like it.  But how it is situated, the day noise is tolerable, and there is not much late night noise at all.  We purposely parked next to a patch of grass for the doggies sake, and although there were many open spots, we can’t understand why yesterday evening a trailer just had to park right next to us…but they were gone before 9:00 am.  When you arrive, you pick out your spot, go over to the Q Store (gas station/store) nearby and pay.  “IF” you need to become a Q-Club member, go to the casino first, then the store.  They have you put a receipt on your windshield, and they enter you into their computer indicating when you are to depart. 

Tri-State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas

Tri-State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas   Tri-State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas

Tri-State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas

The spot where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet is just a tenth of a mile from the RV Park.  The Casino is in Oklahoma, the RV Park is in Missouri, and most of the Casino Parking is in Kansas.  At the Tri-State area, back in 1938 the WPA erected this rock mound monument.  Later, a survey found that they were 50 feet to far to the west, and the ground map was created where the true Tri-State meeting place is located.

Downstream Casino, Buffalo

As you drive up to the Casino, don’t be surprised if you see some Buffalo roaming the fields.  Back in 2011 they brought in 8 Buffalo…now it looks like they have a good 30-40 head near the Casino.  Overall, they have around 150 head of Buffalo and 500 head of Beef that they raise through the Quapaw Cattle Company, with plans to raise all their own feed for the animals, all according to an article I read dated June, 2016. 

Tomorrow we head on to the Kansas City area…


  1. What an interesting story. Sounds like a nice place to spend a few days.

    1. "IF" you ever travel out east again, and go along I-44 from OK City to St. Louis, this is a nice place to stop for the night for $15 (or free if you want to go into the casino and register)


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