Pike City (Pike County)
Pike City is in the southwest corner of Pike County approximately four miles northeast of Murfreesboro (Pike County). It is on Highway 379, a short stretch of road between Highways 26 and 27. It was originally a timber town, but little remains of the community. The town, like the county, was named for explorer Zebulon Pike.
Pike City was founded in 1896 as a timber town, and settlers soon streamed in to work in the timber industry, as well as farm the land. Soon, a railroad was built from Okolona (Clark County) to Pike City. A road was built soon afterward. The Grayson-McLeod Lumber Company of St. Louis, Missouri, opened a large lumber mill, and houses and stores were built. At one time, Pike City reportedly had more than 1,500 residents and was the largest town in Pike County.
The mail originally came to Pike City by horseback. One mail route came from Rock Creek in the northern part of the county, with other routes coming from Murfreesboro and Delight (Pike County). The city had a post office, the lumber mill, and three churches (Methodist, Baptist, and Church of Christ). A newspaper, the Pike Cannon Ball, was started about 1900 by Duncan Nash. The newspaper had other publishers but was discontinued in 1912. Between 1903 and 1906, asphaltic sand was mined near Pike City and shipped over the railroad to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where it was used to pave West Markham Street from Main to Cross streets, and part of Center Street.
As more people moved into the area, more houses and stores were constructed. A one-room schoolhouse was built, but this school consolidated with Delight in 1930. When all of the timber had been cut, the sawmill was moved to a more productive area, and many employees moved with it.
A chicken-processing plant was established by Armour Foods at Murfreesboro in the early 1970s, and several residents in Pike City and the surrounding area raised chickens for the plant. The plant was bought by Hudson Foods in 1982 and closed in 1992. As of 2011, there are only a few broiler houses. The railroad near Pike City served a nearby gravel mill operation until 1999, when it was removed.
Pike City still has some families living there, with a population of around fifty people in 2010. Some people continue to work in the logging business, and some residents commute to nearby towns for work to Murfreesboro, Delight, and Nashville (Howard County).
For additional information:
Early History of Pike County, Arkansas: The First Hundred Years. Murfreesboro, AR: Pike County Archives and History Society, 1989.
Pike County Archives and History Society. http://www.pcahs.org/ (accessed January 25, 2022).
Smith, Kenneth L. Sawmill: The Story of Cutting the Last Great Virgin Forest East of the Rockies. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1986.
Doris Russell Foshee
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