Entries - Entry Category: Counties

Nevada County

Located in the West Gulf Coastal Plain, Nevada County has a variety of sandy loam and silty clay loam soils, as well as extensive pine and hardwood forests. The Little Missouri River, the major stream in the area, separates Nevada County from Clark and Pike counties to the north. The Reconstruction legislature formed Nevada County in 1871 from Hempstead, Ouachita, and Columbia counties. Prescott, the county seat with a population of 3,296 (as of the 2010 census), is the largest city. Other important towns are Emmet, Willisville, Rosston, Bodcaw, Falcon, Cale, and Bluff City. The reason for the selection of the county’s name has been lost. “Sierra nevada,” as in the Sierra Nevada in California, means “snowy range” in Spanish. …

Newton County

Located in the Boston Mountains, Newton County can be described as mountainous, rural, and isolated. The land, once respected and protected by Native Americans, has come full circle with a large portion being protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a wilderness area. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The area, rich with game and timber, was watered by the Big and Little Buffalo rivers. Until 1808, the Osage claimed the region, and between 1818 and 1828 the land was part of a reservation granted to the Western Cherokee. The county was part of Carroll County when it was created in 1833, and white settlers quickly moved in. A block of marble taken from a hillside near present-day Marble …

Ouachita County

Ouachita County, the forty-fifth county in Arkansas, was created in 1842 from land taken from the northwest parts of Union County. It was named after the Ouachita River on which the county seat of Camden, incorporated in 1844, sits on a bluff at a horseshoe curve of the river. Ouachita is the French spelling of a Native American word that is pronounced “Washita” and supposedly denoted good hunting or a river of many fish. The land in the county was covered with vast forests of pines and drained by bayous and sloughs running to the Ouachita River. The Ouachita River forms part of the eastern boundary of the county, while Clark, Dallas, Calhoun, Union, Columbia, and Nevada counties border the remaining …

Perry County

Perry County is in the Ouachita Mountains with the Arkansas River Valley flanking its eastern border and the Fourche La Fave River traversing it from west to east. It has six sub-basins and fourteen watersheds that include 836 acres of streams and lakes. The beauty of the mountains, rivers, and lakes is evident at every turn. The soil is rich alluvial in the river bottoms, and the uplands have loam with a clay foundation. The county has more than 287,000 acres of woodlands. Timber companies and the U.S. Forest Service are the major landowners. Despite its central location in the state of Arkansas, the mountains and watercourses made early settlement difficult. Flood control and better roads have made the county …

Phillips County

  Phillips County is part of the Delta region of Arkansas. Located where the St. Francis River empties into the Mississippi River, its significance touches on nearly every aspect of the state’s history. In the twentieth century, Phillips County was known for devastating flooding, harsh racial confrontations, and the development of blues music. Phillips County’s soil consists of alluvial deposits from the Mississippi River, making it prime agricultural land. The southern edge of Crowley’s Ridge provides higher land once used by Native Americans. Helena’s location on the Mississippi River gave it the potential to be an important transportation hub, although it eventually was overtaken in importance by Memphis, Tennessee. Pre-European Exploration Because of its location, the area was well populated …

Pike County

Pike County sports a greater geological diversity that any other part of the United States. It is also home to the Crater of Diamonds State Park, an ancient volcanic crater and the eighth largest diamond deposit in the world. This is the only site where the public can search and keep what they find. Pre-European Exploration through Early European Exploration About 100 million years ago, during the Mid-Cretaceous period, the Gulf of Mexico extended to the middle of Pike County. The southern half of the county was under water. A volcanic explosion occurred during this period, leaving a crater of about eighty acres in area. The turbulent rotations of the earth caused diamonds to be pushed up to the surface …

Poinsett County

Poinsett County is located in Arkansas’s northeast corner. The St. Francis River travels north to south in the eastern portion of the county, and the L’Anguille River begins at the north boundary and runs south through the center of the county. Crowley’s Ridge, a highland anomaly that begins in southeast Missouri and terminates near Helena (Phillips County), runs through the center of the county. On the eastern side of the ridge is the rich, alluvial land of the Delta, which primarily hosts cotton farming, while on the western side is prairie land used mostly for the cultivation of rice. European Exploration and Settlement When the first permanent settlers arrived in what was to become Poinsett County, a few communities of …

Polk County

Polk County, located on the western edge of Arkansas, was the home of the comedy team of Lum and Abner, country singer T. Texas Tyler, and the controversial Commonwealth College. All of Polk County is in the Ouachita Mountains. Rich Mountain is the site of the historic Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood White settlement in Polk County began about 1830. At that time the region was part of Sevier County. Polk County, named for President James K. Polk, was separated from Sevier County by the legislature on November 30, 1844. The 1860 census gave the Polk County population as 4,090 whites and 172 black slaves. Slaves were not widely used in Polk County because the mountainous …

Pope County

Pope County lies in northwest Arkansas, halfway between the state capital and the cities of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Fayetteville (Washington County). The county is geographically diverse, with the Ozark National Forest covering most of the northern portion, while the southern portion is located in the Arkansas River Valley and includes the cities of Russellville and Atkins. The county also is home to Arkansas Tech University. Pre-European Exploration Several examples of prehistoric rock art, or pictographs, dating from the Mississippian Period and perhaps earlier are found in Pope County. Four sites containing such paintings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although to protect them from being disturbed, their precise location is not identified. In 1541, Spanish …

Prairie County

Prairie County, located in central Arkansas, has two county seats, Des Arc and DeValls Bluff. An important agricultural center, Prairie County has a rich history as the state’s throughway for mail routes, steamboats, and trains. European Exploration and Settlement European exploration of the area began as early as the late seventeenth century. While the area became intermediately occupied by both the Spanish and French, the county remained vital to trade expeditions. The earliest recorded Euro-American settlement of Prairie County is debatable but can be placed in the late eighteenth century. French traders traveled up and down the White River in the early 1700s. Bear oil and skins, abundant in this area at the time, were sought-after commodities in the New …

Pulaski County

Pulaski County has a diverse population, economy, natural setting, and social structure. Its balanced economy results from state and local government, business and industry, and finance and nonprofit sectors. Three of Arkansas’s six natural divisions converge in Pulaski County—the Ouachita Mountains, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta), and the Coastal Plain—representing the state’s wealth of flora, fauna, and geological features. In the geographic center of Arkansas, Pulaski County is one of the state’s five original counties and has been at the center of state government, politics, business, art, and culture for almost two centuries. Pre-European Exploration The Plum Bayou culture flourished in central Arkansas between AD 600 and 1050, as can be seen in sites such as the Toltec Mounds …

Randolph County

  Randolph County’s five rivers, proximity to land transportation routes, and rich agricultural promise drew settlers to the area before the Louisiana Purchase. As dependence on water-based transportation fell, land and railroad routes allowed agriculture and industry to maintain the county’s economic prominence in northeast Arkansas. The county is home to the Rice-Upshaw House, the oldest standing structure in the state, and Davidsonville Historic State Park, devoted to one of Arkansas’s earliest settlements. The county has five incorporated communities: Biggers, Maynard, O’Kean, Pocahontas, and Ravenden Springs. Pre-European Exploration Hundred of archaeological sites exist in Randolph County, some dating back to 11,000 BC or perhaps earlier. As time progressed from the Dalton Period through the Archaic,the number of sites and the duration …

Saline County

Saline County is one of the state’s oldest counties, having been formed in 1835 when Arkansas was still a territory. Named for the salt works that were established in the area during the county’s early years, it was a key county in the mid-twentieth century and served as a center of activity for workers from the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and Reynolds mining operations. At one time, the mines produced more than ninety percent of all aluminum ore produced in the United States. Saline County contains a diverse geography, ranging from the mountainous areas of the northwest to the flatter plain areas of the southeast. The Saline River runs roughly north to south; its tributaries are in the hills …

Scott County

Scott County is located on the west central border of Arkansas in the Ouachita Mountain region of the state. The topography of the area is mountainous and interspersed with expansive valleys along the Fourche LaFave, Petit Jean, and Poteau rivers and associated tributaries. The town of Waldron and portions of the town of Mansfield are the two primary towns within Scott County. Major communities in Scott County are Abbott, Bates, Blue Ball, Boles, Cauthron, Cedar Creek, Harvey, Hon, Needmore, Nola, Parks, Union Hill, Winfield, and Y City. Pre-European Exploration Although little is known of those living in the area prior to 1,000 years ago, the first inhabitants of the Scott County area arrived millennia prior to any European exploration of …

Searcy County

Searcy County is in the Boston Mountains and the Springfield Plateau sections of the Ozark Plateau. Marshall is the county seat and commercial center; Leslie is significant for the Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) railroad and timber products; St. Joe, an old mining center, was also on the railroad and is the first town along Arkansas 65 north of the Buffalo River. Farther northwest is Pindall, an old railroad stop first known as Kilburn Switch, and the old regional commercial center is home to two timber manufacturing companies. Gilbert, another railroad stop, and on the Buffalo River, was originally a point for logs and cotton taken down the river to be placed on the M&NA. In the early 1920s, a …

Sebastian County

Sebastian County is located on Arkansas’s western border in the natural division known as the Arkansas Valley. The Arkansas River forms the county’s northern border, while its southern border touches upon the Ouachita Mountains. The county is home to Fort Smith, the state’s second-largest city, as well as Fort Chaffee, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was the site of the state’s largest coal-mining operations. From the earliest days of the territorial period to the present, Sebastian County has served as a major transportation corridor to points west. Pre-European Exploration The Arkansas Valley region served as a place of residence to Native Americans since the last Ice Age, and there are hundreds of pre-contact settlement sites …

Sevier County

Sevier County is located in southwest Arkansas and borders the state of Oklahoma. The county is located at the northern limits of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Sevier County has four rivers, each of which is impounded by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake. The Little River forms the southern boundary, while the Saline River borders the east side of the county. The Cossatot River and Rolling Fork River both flow from north to south. Pre-European Exploration Artifacts indicate that human activity in Sevier County dates back as much as 10,000 years; for most of that time, they lived by hunting and collecting foods. The county’s rivers and streams, especially the Rolling Fork River and the Little River, provided a …

Sharp County

Sharp County, in northern Arkansas, was established in 1868. Though long known as a location for good hunting and timber, it has remained rather sparsely populated, though the resort town of Cherokee Village is one of the state’s leading retirement communities, and Hardy is a well-known tourist destination. Pre-European ExplorationLocal tradition holds that Wahpeton Hill in what is now Hardy was home at one time to Osage and Sioux Indians. However, the Osage, though they likely hunted in the area, maintained no settlements, and the real Wahpeton Sioux lived further north in South Dakota and Canada. Archaeological finds in the area do include a large variety of arrowheads, spear points, pottery, and handicrafts linked which give convincing proof of the …

St. Francis County

St. Francis County in eastern Arkansas is divided north-south by Crowley’s Ridge, which forms the high ground upon which the county seat, Forrest City, was founded. The St. Francis and L’Anguille rivers further subdivide the county and provide the resources for the agricultural industries that have long been central to the county’s economy. Pre-European Exploration Plenty of evidence of prehistoric habitation of St. Francis County exists, including head pots. Clarence Bloomfield Moore conducted extensive excavations along the St. Francis River, including two Indian mound sites in St. Francis County, and later archaeologists have returned to some of these sites for further investigation. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The first permanent white settlers, along with their slaves, arrived in St. Francis …

Stone County

Stone County, named for its numerous rocky ridges and rocky soil, is widely known for its preservation of Ozark folk music and traditions. Rivers, streams, and forests provide rich natural habitats for wildlife in the diverse landscape from river bottom to hilltop. The White River forms the county’s northeast border. Many spring-fed creeks, including the South Sylamore, are tributaries. A familiar tributary of the North Sylamore is Blanchard Springs. Known for cool, clear water that is a haven for trout and bass, the White River provides recreational opportunities in fishing and canoeing and is the source for the county’s public water system. Hell Creek Cave, near the White, is home to the endangered Cambarus zophonastes, a blind crayfish. This is …

Union County

At more than 1,000 square miles, Union County is the state’s largest geographically. Ninety percent of the county is forested. Forage and hay are raised for livestock, but no row crops are cultivated. Nearly one-quarter of the work force is employed in manufacturing, primarily in petrochemical, poultry processing, and wood products operations. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In November 1829, the territorial legislature formed Union County from parts of Hempstead and Clark counties. The next spring, the county court convened at the former colonial trading post of Ecore Fabre (now Camden in Ouachita County) on a bluff overlooking the Ouachita River. In 1837, county officers anticipated that a pending division of the county would slice away the Ecore Fabre region …

Van Buren County

Formed in 1833, Van Buren became the twenty-ninth county in Arkansas Territory and preceded statehood by three years. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood The area that is now Van Buren County, nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, has been inhabited for roughly 10,000 years. Osage and Cherokee Indians are the first historic tribes known to have a connection to the area. Hunters from Ozark villages in southwest Missouri, and later in northeast Oklahoma, often visited the area, although they had no permanent settlements in the county. No official records are available to tell who the first European or American settlers were or where they came from, but indications are that they began making their way into the hill …

Washington County

Washington County is in the northwest corner of Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. It was established on October 17, 1828, formed from Lovely County, which was part of Indian Territory. Washington County has grown from small settlements of farms, mills, and orchards into one of the most affluent and prosperous counties in the state. The University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville remains the flagship of the University of Arkansas system. Tyson Foods, Incorporated is headquartered in nearby Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) and has become a leading provider of jobs in the region. Given the broad range of manufacturing, industrial, and retail businesses, the population of Springdale is quite diverse, including a large Hispanic community as well as many Marshall …

White County

White County is the second largest county in land area in the state. Geographically, it is a microcosm of the state as a whole. The southeastern half of the county is alluvial land that today is mostly used for farming and timber production. The northeastern half of the county is rocky higher ground where much of the land is used for dairy and beef cattle ranching. The county seat, Searcy, contains the greatest population and number of industries of any town in the county. Even though the county was formed before statehood, its boundaries have altered little through time. Southeastern White County is mostly farmland and lowland forests. The Little Red River flows northwest to southeast across the county and …

Woodruff County

Woodruff County, a level, fertile plain watered and drained by the White and Cache rivers, was once home to many Native Americans who inhabited the area when the first white men arrived. Little is known about the early inhabitants, but the mounds they built for worship, burial, and living can be found in many areas of the county, particularly near Cotton Plant and McCrory, though farming operations have leveled most of the sites. The White River forms most of the western boundary of Woodruff County. The Cache River and Bayou DeView, confluents of the White River, also cut through the county. The five incorporated towns in Woodruff County are Augusta, the county seat, with a population of 2,199; McCrory, population …

Yell County

  Yell County, Arkansas’s forty-second county, was formed on December 5, 1840, from portions of Scott and Pope counties. Located in west-central Arkansas, the northern portion of the county, adjacent to the Arkansas River, is part of the Arkansas River Valley geographic region, while the southern and most of the eastern portions are within the Ouachita National Forest, and a small portion of eastern Yell County is within the Ozark St. Francis National Forest. Named for Governor Archibald Yell, the county boasts a forest products and lumber industry, poultry production and processing, row crops, and livestock production. European Exploration and SettlementHernando de Soto’s expedition encountered strong resistance at Tula in 1541, which archaeologists generally believe to be near the contemporary …