In the early 1960s, Rogers, Arkansas, was a sleepy little town of some 6,000 souls. In 1962, a fledgling store owner named Sam Walton opened Walmart Discount City, forever changing the retail landscape. In the decades since then, Walmart's growth helped to spark enormous growth throughout Northwest Arkansas.
Today, Rogers is home to about 58,000 people, and visitors to Rogers can take part in plenty of both natural and man-made pastimes. And yes, there is indeed a Walmart here, though not in its original location: that spot is now occupied by a hardware store and an indoor antiques mall.
While Walmart is perhaps the city's best-known hometown company, yet another venerable Rogers attraction is the maker of Daisy air rifles. Visitors to Rogers can tour the Daisy Airgun Museum, located in the historic section of downtown in a building that dates to 1896. Inside the museum is a collection of antique airguns dating to the 1600s.
Rogers is also home to A.G. Russell Knives, a mail-order company prized by knife collectors. In 2002 the company's first retail store, located on Interstate 540, became another popular Rogers attraction. Visitors are welcome to browse its large display of knives and other products.
On the city's eastern edge is one of Rogers' most beautiful attractions, Lake Atalanta. This man-made lake was created in the 1930s when the Works Progress Administration built a dam along Prairie Creek. It is named for Atalanta Gregory, the wife of O. L. Gregory, who donated most of the land used to create the lake. Along the lake is Rogers' largest city park, Lake Atalanta Park. On the opposite side is Arkansas's largest state park in land area, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area (HSPCA), covering 12,056 acres.
Ten miles north, the Pea Ridge National Military Park marks a major Civil War battleground. The 4,300-acre battlefield is where over 26,000 soldiers fought to determine the fate of both Missouri and the entire west. Pea Ridge ultimately kept Missouri in the Union and, as such, was one of the Civil War's most important battles. It is also the best preserved Civil War battlefield in the U.S.
Ten miles east of Rogers is the War Eagle Gristmill, which dates to 1832 and today includes a shop and restaurant. About 5 miles away is the War Eagle Cavern, which is open from March through October and includes wide passageways that are both pet- and stroller-friendly. Guided hourly tours, gem panning, a maze and hiking trails are part of the site as well.
In recent years, the city has launched the building of new sports facilities to keep pace with its growth. Among the newest attractions in Rogers is the city's Regional Sports Park, which includes six fields, bleachers, concessions stand, a water feature and a small playground.
Beginning Memorial Day 2013, visitors to Rogers will get to use a $13 million aquatic center. It will offer large slides, a lap pool, two smaller pools, a lazy river ride and a concession stand.