Ouachita

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Entry Category: Ouachita

Bearden (Ouachita County)

Bearden, originally founded as a railroad town, has been an important center for the timber industry in Arkansas. It is home to the annual Gazebo Festival. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Bearden was founded as one of many whistle-stop communities along the Cotton Belt Railway Line during the steam engine years. The city limits for the town of Bearden were set in 1882 by the Southwest Improvement Association, an agency of the Railway Land Office. This office was part of what would become the Cotton Belt Railway Line. Bearden was named after one of the lawyers for the agency, Judge John T. Bearden. Among the first settlers were the Byars, Clemmons, Hollingsworth, and Shaddock families. The small town soon …

Camden (Ouachita County)

Camden is the county seat of Ouachita County and is located in south-central Arkansas on the Gulf Coastal Plain, about fifty miles north of Louisiana. Since it began life as Ecore a Fabre, a French trading post, its history has been closely tied to the Ouachita River. At the head of practical navigation, Camden was the “Queen City” of the Ouachita during the steamboat era. In 1864, it became the unintended focus of a major Civil War effort called the Red River Campaign, resulting in several significant battles. With the development of railroads, Camden was able to exploit its rich timberlands and remain an important transportation hub. Camden has also been important in both industry and education. Politically, Camden has …

Chidester (Ouachita County)

Chidester is a second-class city located in northwestern Ouachita County. Like many Arkansas cities that emerged in the nineteenth century, Chidester is a result of the railroad construction that brought many changes to the state. Jefferson Smith acquired land in the area that would become Chidester in 1858 and established a farm; he added an additional parcel of land to the west of his farm in 1860. Moses K. Robertson also owned land adjacent to Smith’s farm. During the Civil War, Smith served as a sergeant in Company D of Arkansas’s Thirty-third Confederate infantry between 1862 and 1864. His unit was active at Prairie Grove (Washington County), in the defense of Little Rock (Pulaski County), and also in the Red …

East Camden (Ouachita County)

  East Camden is the only city in Arkansas that was constructed by the U.S. Navy. It is located on Highways 274 and 278, several miles from Camden (Ouachita County). A remnant of the Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot, East Camden is now recognized largely as the home of the Highland Industrial Park. The Ouachita River valley of southern Arkansas has been inhabited for centuries. During the historic era, the Caddo lived in several villages near the river. The expedition of Hernando de Soto traveled along the river in 1542, and French explorers and settlers later frequented the region. The settlement first known as Ecore Fabre later became the city of Camden, the county seat of Ouachita County and a major mercantile center of …

Louann (Ouachita County)

Louann is a town on State Highway 7 in southern Ouachita County, a short distance north of the Ouachita River. Although it began to be settled late in the nineteenth century, it was incorporated in the midst of the oil industry boom of the 1920s. With the onset of the Depression, the oil industry lost its momentum in southern Arkansas, and Louann gradually dwindled in size. Quapaw from the north and Caddo from the west sometimes visited the Ouachita River valley. The river became a corridor for French explorers and trappers before the land became part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Gradually, the pine forests were removed, and cotton plantations were established. William Deason, John …

Stephens (Ouachita County)

Stephens is an important city in the oil-producing region of southern Arkansas, home to four oil fields that are still producing in the twenty-first century. It is also noteworthy for a number of “firsts” in state and local history, such as having the first and only bank in the nation organized with a GI loan from the federal government. Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Stephens is laid out on one of the oldest tracts of settled land in Ouachita County. The original land grant was issued on February 19, 1846, through the Internal Grant Act of 1841 for 320 acres to Benjamin Bell. After Bell’s death, his heirs sold the land to M. J. Gentry, who, in 1882, sold …