Donaldson (Hot Spring County)

Latitude and Longitude: 34º14’12″N 092º55’25″W
Elevation: 230 feet
Area: 0.654 square miles (2010 Census)
Population: 301 (2010 Census)
Incorporation Date: August 31, 1956

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
























The community of Donaldson in Hot Spring County was established in the 1870s. The timber industry and the Missouri Pacific Railroad were important to the town’s development.

John Easley was appointed the first postmaster in 1876. There are two local stories regarding the town’s naming. One version posits that the town was named for a Mr. Donaldson who owned a sawmill there. According to another, there was a railroad superintendent named Donald there in the 1870s. His son opened a store for railroad employees, and so when people were going shopping, they were going to “Donald’s son.” A third possibility is that the community was named after William Rhind Donaldson (1843–1917), the son-in-law of Thomas Allen, president of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad.

Donaldson enjoyed the prosperity of the “Roaring ’20s” as a community built on railroad shipping, agriculture, and the lumber industry. Donaldson had one of the largest excelsior mills in the state, a facility that supplied wood shavings used for shipping and packing. The Ohio Lumber Company planing mill in Donaldson served several area sawmills. The Hot Spring County Bank served Donaldson from 1924 to 1930. J. H. Beerstecher of Malvern (Hot Spring County) was the publisher of the Donaldson Enterprise newspaper. The community enjoyed concerts from its own thirty-five-piece brass band twice a week.

In 1934, the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the State of Arkansas constructed a concrete viaduct to divert U.S. Highway 67 over the tracks now operated by Union Pacific; a new viaduct was completed in 2018. Today, U.S. Highway 67 runs through Donaldson, and Interstate 30 lies to the west. As Donaldson has few businesses, many working residents commute to nearby communities such as Arkadelphia (Clark County), Malvern, or Hot Springs (Garland County). Students in Donaldson attend schools of the Ouachita School District.

Two streets in the town recognize the contributions of area natives who held state offices. Hopkins Street is named for George Hopkins, attorney and former state senator. Hopkins, who was born in Donaldson, served in the state Senate from 1987 to 2000. He was Senate chairman for six of the eight years he served on the Joint Committee on Public Retirement. Bryant Street is named for attorney Winston Bryant of Malvern, who served as state representative, secretary of state, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

During the tornado outbreak of March 1, 1997, one tornado caused Donaldson significant damage.

For additional information:
“Donaldson History Items Gathered by Mrs. Garrett.” Heritage 17 (1990): 155.

“Donaldson Led in Trading and Rail Shipments.” Heritage 17 (1990): 151–154.

Sandage, Irene. “What I Remember about Donaldson.” Heritage 37 (2010): 16–19.

Ronna Pennington
Arkadelphia, Arkansas

Last Updated: 01/07/2019