Round Top Mountain has always been a prominent landmark in Newton County, having a distinctive outline and being highly visible. It was long in private hands and was settled by local families. The Newton County Resource Council obtained ownership of 158 acres of the mountain in 1997 when the land was donated by William Stiritz, son of a pioneer doctor in the town. Since the remainder of the mountain was owned by the county government, it was the opportunity for a park to be created there. Twenty acres is leased from the county on the south side of the mountain. It has long been a popular gathering place for people in the county because of the spectacular 360 degree views enjoyed from the summit. Highway 7, the main north-south road through the county, runs along the east edge of the property.
The night of the crash, Feb. 6, 1948, the weather was horrible with freezing rain and fog. The B25 was flying from Dayton, Ohio, to Little Rock, Arkansas, with five men aboard. It was a military plane, a bomber, but was not armed on that flight. It was being used for training purposes. The local people reported hearing and seeing the plane flying very low the night of the crash. It was lost and off course and the plane was icing up. It crashed into the bluff at 8 pm that night causing a large explosion that shook windows all around. Bodies and debris from the plane were scattered all around the site. Many local people were at a basketball game in Jasper at the time of the crash. When they got the news, several of them went with the sheriff to search the site and stayed to guard the scene through the night. There were many small explosions going on as the scattered fuel pockets caught fire. Locals said it was a gory sight, but the full impression could not be known until morning light. The plane was broken into many small pieces, the biggest being the two engines, one of which was imbedded in the bluff where the plane hit, and a portion of the tail section.
Today there is a trail to the crash site. The place where the plane crashed into the bluff can be seen and the scorch marks from the burning fuel are visible on the rocks. There are pieces of metal and aluminum parts that have been found and some are still lying in the soil.
The B-25 bomber was a military plane in very common use during World War II. It had two engines with 14 pistons per engine which each weighed over 1,000 pounds. It was made mostly of aluminum and was 52 feet long with a 67 foot wing span. It could fly at 272 mph with a range of 1350 miles and 24,000 feet. Over 11,000 were built.
Round Top Mountain Park has about 4 miles of trails that were constructed since 2001 with an Arkansas Recreational Trails grant and funds from the Dept of Transportation. The trail to the crash site was constructed as a handicapped accessible trail. There is a concrete block building that serves as an interpretive center at the trailheads.
Since opening to the public in 2001, the park has been very popular with visitors and hikers. It is one of the most accessible hiking trails in the county being only 1 mile from Jasper and right off Highway 7. Aside from the views, the natural features of the site including the bluffs, rock formations, trees and wildflowers are spectacular. The B-25 crash site offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and tells a dramatic story that is an integral part of the history of the country.