Under the waters in Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas lies a luxury resort whose guests now are fishes. It was the creation of a man named William Harvey, a teacher, lawyer, silver mine owner and entrepreneur who decided to buy land in the Ozarks in the early 1900s and build his own perfect community and vacation spot. He called the community “Monte Ne” after the Spanish word for “mountain” and the Native American word for “water.”
Monte Ne was located about 5 miles south of Rogers, Arkansas. William Harvey realized his dream by building three hotels, a tennis court, the state’s first indoor swimming pool and one of the state’s first golf courses. People travelled by train from miles around to stay in the luxury resort. Harvey even had a new railway station and five-mile stretch of railway built, to bring travelers from the train station in Lowell, Arkansas. Monte Ne was advertised as “The only place in America where a gondola meets the train.” Once visitors arrived at the Monte Ne rail station, imported Italian gondolas took them across the lagoon to the hotels. There were bands and speakers and fox hunts and boating and fishing outings. It was a luxurious vacation destination in its day.
Eventually, the automobile became more popular and people could travel anywhere, not just to places where trains went. So Monte Ne became less and less popular, even though Harvey tried to keep it going by trying to get roads built that led to it.
Despite Harvey’s work to have all roads lead to to Monte Ne, by 1920 the resort was no longer what it had been.
Then, Harvey began work on a new idea. Since he believed that civilization was ending, he started to build a pyramid that would include messages for future civilizations and a time capsule buried in the basement. But Harvey ran out of money and his health was failing so only the pyramid’s foundation and amphitheater were ever completed.
After Harvey died in 1936, he was buried, along with his books and papers, in a concrete that had been built for his son, who had died earlier.
In 1955 the hotel was sold to J.C. Gladded, a Springdale antique dealer, who used it as an antique gallery. By the 1950s the Town of Monte Ne was reduced to a few homes, a general store, gas station, a restaurant, and a camp for girls.
In 1960, work began on Beaver Dam, which was built to control flooding in the area. That was the beginning of the real end for Monte Ne. Business owners and the community wanted the dam built and only a few people cared about saving what was left of Monte Ne, which would be flooded by the project.
In their land survey, the Army Corp of Engineers mistakenly calculated that the property the three hotels stood on would be under water as well, so they purchased the land and dismantled the hotels.
As the waters rose, Harvey’s tomb was moved up onto a hillside. It can be viewed from the boat launch at Monte Ne.
J.C. Gladden purchased the some parts of the old hotel and moved it west to use as an antique shop.
Now all that’s left standing of the former resort is the foundation and basement one of the hotels, and a fireplace, chimney, foundation and a retaining wall from another. When the water levels Beaver Lake are low, the ghosts of Monte Ne emerge, and you can see some of what was once one man’s vision of the perfect community.
Two concrete chairs from the original amphitheater stage were moved are now in Frisco Park in downtown Rogers. The concrete tower of one of the original hotels that appears above the water was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the first examples of reinforced concrete construction in Arkansas.
William Harvey may have been a visionary or just plain crazy. Either way, he definitely was an interesting figure who created a weird and wonderful Arkansas artifact.
You can learn more about Mont Ne by visiting the Rogers Historical Museum in downtown Rogers, which still has some relics from the resort. These include a cement chair, a wooden model of what the pyramid would have looked like, and Harvey’s death mask–made by a funeral home employee while waiting for Harvey’s tomb to be prepared.
By Karen Rice