is an Izard County tourist attraction
that is home to some interesting stories
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, January 7, 2001
Located five or six miles down the White
River in Izard County is the legendary
community of Penter's Bluff.
Jaydine Morton, a nearby Guion resident and
area historian, described the community as a
vacant place with no residents, commerce, or
"There used to be a few small towns that
were located next to it like Switch and
Crocker, but they are no longer in
existence," she said. "I believe there was a
community of railroad workers who lived
there for a while. They stayed in a cook
She says the name of the town might have
come from the John Penter family.
"Over the years, the name has changed a few
times. It's been called Painter's Bluff,
Panter's Bluff, Panther's Bluff and even
Pinter's Bluff. I'm not sure why the name
Penter's Bluff, as it is called now,
evolved," she said.
Library reference materials allude to
several possibilities. One is that the name
originated from an old pronunciation of
panther as painter.
Then, there's the story of two young fellows
who supposedly agreed upon a duel. One of
them was a member of the Penter family and
he was dueling for the affections of a local
girl. The story indicates that an agreement
was made and that whoever won the duel would
be allowed to escort the girl to church.
Under the auspices of the agreement, each
boy would leap to the edge of the bluff and
the one who got nearest to the brink of the
bluff would win. It is believe that Penter
got the closest, but fell down the cliff and
landed in a cedar tree that saved his life.
There's also the story of Susan Penter, who
had her riding horse stolen by Union
soldiers in the Civil War. Legend states she
found the horse after the war and reclaimed
it. How the name originated in that is not
known, other than it might have been where
she reclaimed her horse.
Morton's also heard a few stories about the
area and some of its history.
"It is believed that a big rock fell from
Penter's Bluff in 1958 and blocked the
railroad," she said. "Because of that rock,
a train was forced into the river with its
passengers. A local resident by the name of
Dick Winson, of Switch, is said to have
rescued the passengers with his boat."
She shares another. This one-- involves a
man who is said to have visited the bluff to
see if he could track an approaching
tornado. Apparently, he got stuck there and
had to take refuge in the bluff walls to
avoid injury from the storm.
Penter's Bluff, which is located on the map
as a community, is probably best described
as a tourist attraction since no residents
actually live here today.
The bluffs, which can be seen by boat along
the White River, are best reached by way of
the local railroad or the road located next
to the White River.
For those who have never visited, the Bluff
extends high in elevation and is made of
limestone and silica. Tourists often climb
them for the impressive view of the White
River seen from atop. Morton believes a lime
quarry was also located in the area at one
In all its mystery, Penter's Bluff remains,
high above it all.
(Penter's Bluff is an excerpt from Road
Trips; a weekly feature of small towns in
Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and
published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)