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Entries - Entry Category: Union

Calion (Union County)

Calion is a second-class city in the northern part of Union County, on Highway 167 and on the south bank of the Ouachita River. The city is known principally as a timber industry center, although increasing emphasis is being placed on tourism opportunities associated with Lake Calion. The African-American neighborhood of Jelly Roll in Calion was the subject of an anthropological study published in 1986. Native American artifacts of the prehistoric era—including Koroa and prehistoric Caddo—have been discovered across the river from Calion in southern Calhoun County. Some historians have attempted to demonstrate that Hernando de Soto’s expedition wintered in that region, since it is known that the expedition did travel along the Ouachita River. In the nineteenth century, the …

Champagnolle (Union County)

Champagnolle, located on a bluff on the west bank of the Ouachita River, was an important early 1800s shipping point and social center of southern Arkansas. At its peak in the 1850s, thousands of bales of cotton were shipped yearly as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana. Bypassed by the railroad in the 1890s, the town began a slow decline. Little of the once prosperous settlement survives. The first white settlers to the area were Lawrence, John, and Silas Scarborough, who were attracted by the potential of the river and the availability of potable water. Lawrence Scarborough built a home there and, in 1829, established Scarborough Landing on the river bank below a bluff. Others came, and soon a settlement …

El Dorado (Union County)

El Dorado is the county seat of Union County in south central Arkansas and a center for oil production and refining. Called once by boosters the “Queen City of South Arkansas” and, more recently, “Arkansas’s Original Boomtown,” the city was the heart of the 1920s oil boom in South Arkansas. Early Statehood through the Gilded Age The city was founded in 1843 when Matthew Rainey set up a retail store in the area. Some reports state that Rainey had become stranded and sold his belongings to tide him over. So impressed with the sales to local settlers, he decided to stay permanently and named the site El Dorado, most often translated as “the Gilded Road” in Spanish. In 1843, El …

Felsenthal (Union County)

Felsenthal is near the Saline River’s termination into the Ouachita River in southeastern Union County, just north of the Louisiana state line. It was established by the lumber industry, but since 1975 has prospered due to tourism, including hunters and fishers. David Felsenthal, a Jew born in Bavaria (now part of Germany) in 1833, moved to Arkansas when he was twenty years old. He lived first in Woodlawn (Ouachita County) and then moved to Camden (Ouachita County). He and his wife had nine children, four of whom—Adolph, Isaac, Sidney, and Lee—formed the Felsenthal Land and Timber Company around the beginning of the twentieth century to harvest the trees of southern Union County. They established a company town for their workers …

Huttig (Union County)

Huttig is a second-class city in Union County. Located two miles north of the Arkansas-Louisiana state line, the city was established as a timber industry company town. Huttig was the childhood home of civil rights activist Daisy Bates and also of musician Floyd Cramer. After the railroad arrived in Union County, the timber industry began to purchase property and hire workers. The Frost-Johnson timber company built a company town, which company president C. D. Johnson named Huttig for his friend, industrialist William Huttig. The city quickly became the largest sawmill community in Union County and was the second-largest city in the county until the oil boom of the 1920s. The company built houses for its workers and also provided schools, …

Junction City (Union County)

Junction City is the southernmost city in Arkansas. Straddling the state line with Louisiana, Junction City has two city governments and exists in Union County, Arkansas; Union Parish, Louisiana; and Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. Junction City was created by the Arkansas Southern Railway Company, which was formed by the directors of the South Arkansas Lumber Company. Both businesses were incorporated in August 1892, and the railroad began building a line from El Dorado (Union County) south to the state line. It reached the state line in 1894, and Junction City was platted at that time. Lots were auctioned at a public barbecue. Many of the successful bidders were from the town of Blanchard Springs in Union County; when their homes and …

New London (Union County)

New London was the main center of commerce in eastern Union County during the Civil War and the forty years afterward. After the railroad bypassed it in 1902, the town diminished, and all that remains is a collection of houses around a steepled church with an old cemetery. New London began with the arrival of a wagon train from Gilgal, Alabama, in 1839. The wagons carried sixteen families with livestock and some African-American slave families, led by a Baptist minister, Elder C. Norsworthy. Two years later, a second wagon train brought eight families. That group came through Alabama but was from Union County, North Carolina, and followed the route that carried most of the pioneers to Texas from Alabama through …

Norphlet (Union County)

  The city of Norphlet, like nearby Smackover (Union County) and El Dorado (Union County), rose to prominence due to the oil industry. The city is home to one of the most notorious disasters in Arkansas’s history of oil drilling. More recently, however, it has become a bedroom community to El Dorado, the county seat. The forested hills of Union County were thinly populated until after the Civil War and Reconstruction. The railroad industry, combined with the timber industry, brought new life to the area. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway built a line running from Gurdon (Clark County) through El Dorado that was completed in January 1891. Norphlet was one of several depots created along the railway. The timber industry …

Smackover (Union County)

Smackover’s existence is a result of one of the largest and most dramatic oil discoveries in the nation. Its sixty-eight-square-mile oil field led the nation’s oil output in 1925, with production reaching seventy million barrels. Prior to the discovery of oil, the area’s economy initially relied upon cotton and, by 1890, a timber industry that thrived in the vast virgin forests of southern Arkansas. European Exploration and Settlement An uncharted wilderness greeted French hunters and trappers along the Ouachita River. The typography resembled a vast sunken swamp interspersed with rolling hills and steep knolls. The name Bayou de Chemin Couvert (Smackover Creek) first appeared in an April 5, 1789, letter written by the commandant of Fort Miro (Monroe, Louisiana) to …

Strong (Union County)

Strong, located seven miles north of the Louisiana border, was founded in the early twentieth century as a settlement along the railroad tracks. Originally named Victoria, the settlement grew quickly. Later rechristened as Strong, it became an important shipping station for local farm products, especially cotton. Union County experienced significant growth with railroad construction through the area in the late 1800s. One such railroad, the El Dorado and Bastrop Railway, was built in the early 1900s. Once the railroad was completed, management posted notices calling leaders of the surrounding small southern Union County communities to a meeting to discuss area development. During the poorly attended meeting, held in Collinston, Louisiana, James Solomon Coleman offered a right-of-way to his land at …