Flippin (Marion County)

Latitude and Longitude:

36º16’44″N 092º35’50″W


636 feet


1.88 square miles (2020 Census)


1,345 (2020 Census)

Incorporation Date:

October 8, 1921

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:

































Hometown of the internationally recognized Ranger Boats bass boat manufacturer, Flippin (Marion County) is located seven miles from the county seat of Yellville (Marion County) and is surrounded by areas offering a wealth of recreational opportunities.

The city of Flippin began as a small community outside the present-day city limits, near the site of what today serves as Flippin’s airport. Here, the first families settled in an area called the Barrens. Established sometime in the early 1800s, the Barrens was a small settlement that included a general store, flour mill, and cotton gin. The name later changed, and local legend purports that the owner of the general store, a man named Johnson, was not pleased with the wares being sold by a peddler and therefore sent him away. Johnson was assisted by a goat that butted the peddler’s backside, and the settlement assumed a second name that it retained for years thereafter—Goatville.

The name Flippin Barrens originated with Thomas H. Flippin, who migrated to Arkansas from Tennessee in 1837. He married Elizabeth Baugh and had two sons, W. B. and Thomas H. He and his wife were farmers, and Flippin also served as clerk of Marion County. Flippin died in 1856, leaving many descendants who peopled the region. His son W. B. served during the Civil War as captain of a Confederate company and reputedly held every public office in the community except for county clerk and sheriff.

Family names recorded on 1840 land parcels include Laird, McBee, Motley, Flippin, Wood, Reynolds, Talburt, Harris, Everett, Chambers, Hall, and Johnson. The U.S. Census for 1840 recorded 302 people in Flippin Barrens, all with farmer listed as their occupation.

The Civil War was a difficult time for “the Barrens,” as for many small communities, and resulted in the loss of many lives due to both war and hardship. An account by a woman named Mary Jenkins relates how a band of bushwhackers once terrorized her neighborhood, killing a man named Derl Wood one morning, then later killing another named Jim Brown.

The community’s first post office was established in 1878. Flippin Barrens lasted until the beginning of the 1900s, when activity moved closer to the White River Railway railroad line. Businesses sprang up along the line, and a main street was established nearby. In 1921, the town was officially incorporated as Flippin, with James M. Keeter elected as its first mayor.

Farming dominated the early industrial scene in Flippin. Cotton became a cash crop for farmers along the White River after the arrival of the steamboat at Buffalo City and McBee’s Landing. In the latter part of the 1800s, McBee’s Landing, just above the town of Cotter (Baxter County) along the White River to the east, served as the on/off point for cargo. Salt, whiskey, and household items were offloaded, while cotton, furs, and lumber were on-loaded. Will McBee operated a cotton gin right above the landing that was destroyed by a flood at the turn of the century. Durl Wood then opened a gin in Flippin, and Seth Hurst established one around 1917 near the present-day site of Seawright’s Motel. Hurst’s gin was moved to Yellville in the early 1920s.

The Great Depression affected Flippin in much the same way as the rest of the United States. During the 1940s, many area men entered the service during World War II. A rationing board was located in Flippin, where families received stamps for coffee, sugar, salt, and other staples.

The building of Bull Shoals Dam on the White River north of Flippin began in 1945 with the establishment of a rock quarry on Lee’s Mountain between Flippin and Bull Shoals (Marion County). A conveyor belt, four feet wide and seven miles long, carried rock blasted out of the mountainside to a site near Bull Shoals, where the dam was being built. The belt ran twenty-four hours a day, and the quarry and dam’s construction provided jobs for many. The completion of the dam in 1951 and the creation of Bull Shoals Lake caused tourism to flourish along the upper White River. Resorts and fishing guide services sprang up, and what was to become Marion County’s largest industry was established.

In 1968, Forrest L. Wood and Nina Wood established Ranger Boats in Flippin, a company generally credited with the introduction of the modern-day bass boat. The first six boats produced by the company were built in Flippin’s present-day city hall. In 1971, the original plant was destroyed by fire, but it was rebuilt. As of 2010, Wood Manufacturing, Inc., is under ownership of Platinum Equity and remains Marion County’s most prominent industry, under the direction of a member of the Wood family. Bass fishing tournaments bring tourism dollars into the community.

Records found in the Marion County Courthouse indicate that Flippin’s school began in 1895 in a one-room building, north of the present airport, also used as a church. The school followed the town’s movement closer to the railroad track, initially occupying a two-story, two-room frame building alongside Crane Creek. Two more rooms were added in 1917 to accommodate growth—one upstairs and one downstairs.

G. B. Keeter became superintendent of Flippin’s school in 1926 and is credited with many improvements to it and the community. The school became accredited in 1926, began offering three years of high school in 1927, and graduated its first class of six seniors in 1929. Consolidation of many outlying schools necessitated growth, and, in the late 1920s, the school moved to where it stands as of 2010. A new elementary school opened for the 1929–30 academic year. On February 13, 1951, the first building built on site burned to the ground, reportedly due to an overheated stove lit for a Parent-Teacher Association meeting earlier that evening. The present main building was built on the same foundation site. Several buildings, such as a new gymnasium, and programs, including an accredited preschool, have been added since these early days.

For additional information:
Berry, Earl. History of Marion County. N.p.: Marion County Historical Association, 1977.

Roberts, Vicki. Towns and Communities of Marion County, Arkansas. Yellville, AR: 2008.

Eve West
Mountaineer Echo


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