Entries - Entry Category: Business and Economics - Starting with L

Labor Movement

Soon after Arkansas’s 1836 admission to the Union, wage workers in the state began uniting for their mutual economic and political benefit. Throughout the nineteenth century, these associations—commonly called trade unions—tended to be short lived and unstable, reflecting the dominance of agriculture in Arkansas’s economy. But in the twentieth century, as industry began gaining a toehold in the state, the labor movement began improving the lives of wage workers through collective bargaining and by securing passage of legislation in the interest of all workers. Although weak when compared with their counterparts in more industrialized states, Arkansas’s trade unions were at the forefront of every significant wave of reform in the state during the twentieth century—the Progressive Era, the New Deal, …

Lafayette Hotel

aka: Lafayette Building
The Lafayette Hotel in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) opened in 1925 and was one of the state’s best-known hotels until its closure in 1973. Now known as the Lafayette Building, it houses offices and condominiums. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 30, 1982. Little Rock was experiencing solid growth during the 1920s, and an entity known as the Little Rock Hotel Co. decided to capitalize on that growth with a new hotel. A. D. Gates of St. Louis, Missouri, was the company president, and John Boyle of Little Rock was the vice president. The ten-story structure, which has a full basement, was designed by St. Louis architect George Barnett. The Lafayette opened on …

Landers, Steve

Steve Landers is a businessman and philanthropist from Benton (Saline County) who founded Arkansas’s largest chain of automotive dealerships. In 2004, Landers Auto Sales, Inc., had the highest reported revenue among car dealers in the state according to business analysts Dun & Bradstreet. Steve Landers was born in Benton on September 23, 1953, to Bob and Bonnie Landers. He has two brothers. Reportedly, when Landers was five years old, he would walk to the Benton Courier office to buy newspapers using his allowance; he bought them for three cents each and then sold them on the street for five cents each. As a young man, he attended livestock and automotive auctions with his maternal step-grandfather, who taught him the art …

Lassis Inn

Lassis Inn is a catfish restaurant located at 518 East 27th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), founded in about 1905 by Joe and Molassis Watson. Its first known advertising listing was in the Arkansas Gazette in 1931. Originally, Joe Watson sold sandwiches out of the back of the Watson home, and when he later added catfish to the menu, sales rapidly increased. Eventually constructing a separate building for their food business, the Watsons relocated the building in 1931 to its current location, moving it a short distance once in the 1960s to accommodate the construction of Interstate 30 near Roosevelt Road. They had apparently intended to call the establishment the Watson Inn but decided on the derivative of Molassis …

Lawhon, Jay Noal

Jay Noal Lawhon of McCrory (Woodruff County) was a star Razorback football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1944 but turned down the offer on doctor’s advice. During World War II, Lawhon served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. After the war, he taught vocational agriculture in Arkansas high schools and was a high school principal. He was the founder of Lawhon Farm Services, the 1988 Arkansas Business of the Year. In 1975, Lawhon and wife Lillian founded a non-denominational charity, the World Christian Relief Fund, Inc. (WCRF). Jay Lawhon was born on July 16, 1919, in Monarch (Marion County), a small hill community near Harrison (Boone County), to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah McPherson Lawhon. He was …

Lead and Zinc Mining

The history of lead and zinc mining in Arkansas is linked because ores of these two metals often occur together. Lead and zinc in Arkansas occur principally along the upper White River and its tributaries in Baxter, Boone, Independence, Lawrence, Marion, Newton, Searcy, Sharp, and Stone counties. Other locations include the Kellogg Mine in Pulaski County and the Ouachita Mountain mineral belt. Lead (Pb) is a soft, highly dense metal recognized for its low melting point and superb resistance to corrosion. Galena (PbS), containing about eighty-six percent lead, is the only lead mineral of commercial importance in Arkansas. Silver is sometimes found as an impurity that, in larger concentrations, can be extracted as a byproduct. Lead was once used to …

Lee Wilson & Company

Lee Wilson & Company, a diversified agribusiness headquartered in Wilson (Mississippi County), was founded by Robert E. Lee Wilson in 1885 and remained family owned and operated for approximately 125 years. Robert E. Lee Wilson was born in 1865 in Mississippi County but moved with his mother to Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of seven after the sudden death of his father. He was orphaned at the age of thirteen when his mother died in a yellow fever epidemic; he was sent to live with an uncle. While attending school in Covington, Tennessee, he was introduced to land surveying and, through this, developed an eye for land. Wilson returned to Arkansas at the age of fifteen and worked as a …

Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest

The Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest (LWDF) is located about three miles south of Hamburg (Ashley County) along U.S. Highway 425. Currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Company, the LWDF is a remnant of the old-growth pine forest that once covered much of southern Arkansas. The LWDF is notable for the dimensions of the loblolly and shortleaf pines still found within its boundaries—most of the pines in this roughly ninety-acre stand are between 100 and 200 years old and over 100 feet tall. For example, the “Morris Pine” is a loblolly fifty-six inches in diameter, 117 feet tall, and estimated to be at least 300 years old. The national champion shortleaf is also found in the LWDF and measures thirty-six inches …

Linebarger, Clarence A.

Clarence A. Linebarger was the general manager and part-owner of Bella Vista (Benton County), a successful summer resort in northwest Arkansas, from 1917 to 1952. In addition to the day-to-day management, he designed most of the resort’s amenities, including more than 500 summer residents’ cottages, accommodating the owners’ specifications while preserving the natural landscape. C. A. Linebarger was born on August 17, 1889, in West Union, Indiana, to Samuel and Mary Linebarger. He was the third of three children. His family passed through Benton County later that year en route from Indiana to Crowley, Louisiana, where they became rice farmers. After his mother contracted tuberculosis, she asked her husband to take her to Bentonville (Benton County), because she was impressed …

Lion Oil Company

Lion Oil is an El Dorado (Union County) corporation that refines and produces oil, gasoline, and other oil-based products. Its products include not only fuels and asphalt but industrial solvents and oil-based roofing products. Lion is a major employer in southern Arkansas, with more than 500 employees. When the oil boom began in southern Arkansas in 1920, Colonel Thomas Harry Barton, a Texas native, came to El Dorado and began investing in the emerging industry, organizing the El Dorado Natural Gas Co. In 1922, he took over a small refinery in El Dorado that became the Lion Oil and Refining Co. Initially, the refinery produced 2,000 barrels per day and employed twenty-five people. Reportedly, Barton decided to call the company …

Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad

The Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) railroad span was organized in November 1853 as the Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company. In 1859, while it was still a company only on paper, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a proposed act allowing the Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch to merge with the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, forming the Central Pacific Railroad. This merger never happened, but it clearly shows the manipulation of railroad markets in Arkansas. The start of the Civil War in 1861 postponed plans for the proposed Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch. Following the war, in 1866, Congress gave the State of Arkansas ten alternating …

Little Rock Picric Acid Plant

Arkansans supported the American effort in World War I in many ways. Some served in the armed forces, while others worked to grow and conserve food and make clothing and bandages for the troops. Many worked in a number of war industries, including a munitions plant built outside of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1918, tasked with manufacturing a high explosive—a rapid and destructive chemical explosive—known as picric acid. Picric acid (trinitrophenol) is made of phenol and several acid compounds that, when combined under proper conditions, form a honey-like substance that can be loaded into artillery shells. It is stable enough to survive the shock of being fired from a cannon, but, when detonated by a fuse, is very destructive. …

Little Rock Port Authority

aka: Port of Little Rock
The Port of Little Rock, part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, is operated by the Little Rock Port Authority (LRPA). The LRPA oversees the port, which provides intermodal transportation services to connect U.S. markets to the deep-water ports of the Gulf of Mexico. The port encompasses an industrial park located along the banks of the Arkansas River, approximately seven miles from downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County); the 2,600-acre industrial park has more than forty businesses. The Port of Little Rock operates two river terminals (a river port and a slackwater harbor) and a short-line railroad, as well as Foreign Trade Zone 14. (Foreign-trade zones are designated locations in the United States in which companies are able to delay …

Lorch, Grace Lonegran

Grace Lorch, wife of Philander Smith College mathematics professor Lee Lorch, was a civil rights and labor rights activist. She is best known for lending aid to one of the Little Rock Nine during the Central High School desegregation crisis in 1957. Of Irish extraction, Grace Lonergan was born on September 26, 1903, to William and Delia Lonergan in Boston, Massachusetts. She and her brother Thomas grew up in a working-class household in which her father was a railroad worker and her mother was a homemaker. Grace Lonergan became a public school teacher at a young age. She was a member of the Boston Teachers’ Union and the Boston Central Labor Council. After she married Lee Lorch in December 1943, …

Lost Forty Brewing

Located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Lost Forty Brewery was founded in 2014 by John Beachboard, Scott McGehee, Albert Braunfisch, and Russ McDonough. The micro-brewery takes its name from a forty-acre forest in Calhoun County known by locals as the “Lost Forty.” The forest’s virgin hardwood and pine trees are owned by the Potlach Corporation. In 1996, the Potlatch Corporation and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) entered a forty-year cooperative to conserve the forest. Lost Forty Brewery began raising funds for the initiative as well as other ANHC conservation and protection initiatives by forming a new non-profit, the Lost Forty Project Foundation, in partnership with the ANHC. In January 2014, Brewer, Beachboard, McDonough, and McGehee of the Yellow …

Lynwood Tourist Court Historic District

The Lynwood Tourist Court Historic District is a motel/apartment building and office located in Hot Springs (Garland County). Constructed in 1944, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. The district is located at 857 Park Avenue and is one of a number of motels and tourist courts that were constructed in the area between the 1920s and 1950s. Travelers took advantage of newly constructed highways to visit the thermal springs and other tourist attractions in Hot Springs, prompting many related businesses to open in the area. The lower-cost options offered by these establishments made them popular with many travelers. The court was constructed as the Lynwood Tourist Court in 1944 and owned …