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About the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History (AR, USA) and their start into the Potato Year

Front view of the museum.

Since 1968 the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History has been telling the history of the Arkansas Ozarks by highlighting stories of the everyday people who lived in this region and shaped our communities. The museum’s name comes from the pioneer community of Shiloh, which became Springdale in the 1870s. Since opening the museum’s mission has been to serve the public by preserving and providing resources for finding meaning, enjoyment, and inspiration in the exploration of the Arkansas Ozarks. While the museum is a department of the City of Springdale, we serve six Arkansas Ozark counties including Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton, and Washington. 

The museum tells the story of the unique region through permanent and rotating exhibits, educational programming for children and adults, and seven historic buildings on the museum grounds. The historic buildings include the 1854 Ritter-McDonald Log Cabin, 1870s Steele General Store, 1930s Mr. Cooper’s Barn, 1930s Cartmell Outhouse, and the 1880s Dr. Carter’s Country Doctor’s Office, 1871 Smith-Searcy House, and 1871 Shiloh Meeting Hall. Visitors exploring the grounds will find a heritage garden near our log cabin, a seasonal free seed library encouraging visitors to take pollinator plant seeds, and a bee hive which enables them to educate about the region’s natural heritage. 

The museum's heritage garden and log cabin.

On the grounds they also display a variety of farm equipment including several cultivators, planters, plows, and a hay bailer. During the growing season they partner with the Washington County Master Gardeners who assist with maintaining the plantings on the campus. The Master Gardeners also help with the heritage garden. The heritage garden is designed to illustrate some of the crops that early settlers would have planted and grown. Some of the crops that they traditionally grow include potatoes, green beans, okra, cotton, flax, and garlic. The main museum building is home to the exhibit hall, collections, a research library with extensive research files, and a collection of over 500,000 photographs of Ozark life, the largest historic image collection in the state. The museum’s permanent exhibit hall contains a broad range of topics of the region over time from prehistoric Ozarks to modern times in the Ozarks. There is also a permanent exhibit in the upstairs of the Shiloh Meeting Hall telling the history of the 1871 building and its various occupants over the years.

History camp participants harvest potatoes as part of the week long programme.

Insights into the ongoing Potato Year at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History

Potato Varieties Used: Yukon Gold. In previous years it has been Irish Cobblers but these were not able to be found this year.

Source of Seed Potatoes: A Farmers' Cooperative.

Field Plot Information: 30' X 30' plot with one row 30' long. The specific row used for

planting was part of expansion this year and was lawn prior to this year.

Soil Type: Silty loam with clay.

Previous Use of the Plot: The plot has been used as a vegetable garden for 20+ years but is historically in an area not farmed on a large scale. In the past years they have planted an over crop but expanded the footprint of the garden slightly this year and so did not plant one this fall.

Climate: Located in the Ozark Plateau this area is known for rugged hills and deep valleys. High temperature averages vary from around 20 °C in spring to 32 degrees in summer, with lows around 8 in the spring and 22 in the summer. The yearly average temperature is 15.52 °C. Average monthly precipitation is 54.5 mm with the wettest months being May and August.

Photo diary

Potato planting at the Shiloh Museum on the morning of April 3rd. Ozark tradition instructs planting of potatoes to be on St. Patricks Day but was delayed this year:

A single wheel cultivator is used to cultivate the row prior to planting.

The row is in a new section of the garden and was hand weeded of dense crab grass roots prior to planting.

Washington County Master Gardeners plant seed potatoes in the new row.

After planting the seed potatoes the row is covered with straw.

The development of the potato plants in the first three weeks of May:

Potato plant at the end of May:

Potato blossom shortly afterwards:


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