Fruehauf, Miles to be inducted into Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame
Benjamin Franklin Fruehauf III and Paula Miles will be inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame on Feb. 27, during the 49th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held Feb. 26-28 in El Dorado.
The Hall of Fame honor is presented annually to an individual or individuals who have been actively involved in Arkansas’s tourism industry for many years and who have made substantial contributions to the betterment of the industry as a whole.
Ben Fruehauf III
Fruehauf III and his father began floating the Illinois River near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. They soon heard stories of a pristine river known as the Buffalo and in 1970, after a few more visits to the state, Ben’s father purchased land in Gilbert. Since that time, Ben has worked to ensure visitors to Arkansas and the Buffalo have the same captivating experience he first had.
Ben began Buffalo Camping and Canoeing by renting a handful of aluminum canoes out of his one-bedroom cabin and putting up campers in his backyard. In 1972, his company was named an authorized concessionaire of the newly designated Buffalo National River, and in 1988 Ben purchased the Gilbert General Store. Today, Ben operates the store as a living, working museum. Ben also does his part to “keep Gilbert cool” and has maintained the Gilbert weather reporting station since 2014. Every day he inspects the station and reports data to the National Weather Service in Little Rock.
Ben has been a board member of the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association since 2005 and served as a Gilbert city councilman from 1986 to 1997 and as Gilbert mayor from 1997 to 2005.
Miles retired in 2020 as assistant director of Arkansas State University Heritage Sites. During her time at ASU, she played a key role in the restoration of the four Heritage Sites museums (Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum and Lakeport Plantation) and the restoration of the historic Kays House on the ASU campus. Later, she helped move the Heritage Sites offices to the restored Kays structure and set up the “Governor Mike Beebe Office” in the main living room. Paula helped lead the restoration, meeting with architects to finalize museum plans and working with design companies to create the museum exhibits.
Miles also worked to create and develop the outdoor exhibits at the Rohwer Relocation Camp narrated by George Takei. She now serves as executive secretary/treasurer for the Arkansas Delta Byways Regional Tourism Association, which serves 15 counties in Eastern Arkansas.
Miles has received multiple distinguished performance awards for her work with the ASU Heritage Sites and Special Recognition and Outstanding Member Awards for Arkansas Delta Byways.