Entry Type: Place - Starting with B

Bay (Craighead County)

Bay (Craighead County) is located in northeast Arkansas between Trumann (Poinsett County) and Jonesboro (Craighead County) and has long been known as a farming community. Once populated with long-time generational residents, it is now occupied largely by younger adults who migrated from larger cities. The first settlers arrived in the early 1800s, and although Native Americans had already left the area, their remnants have been discovered. Indian mounds can be found on Bay’s north side. Originally, three such mounds existed, but only two remain. These mounds were investigated in 1883 for the Bureau of American Ethnology. The mounds have never been fully investigated, and their purpose remains uncertain. Local legend holds that the mounds were sacred burial grounds and give …

Bayou Bartholomew

Located in southeast Arkansas, Bayou Bartholomew was, until the construction of railroad lines in the area in 1890, the most important stream for transportation in the interior Delta. While the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers served their adjoining areas, it was the bayou that provided a transportation route into an otherwise landlocked area. This route allowed the development of one of the richest timber and agricultural tracts in the Delta. Bayou Bartholomew has the distinction of being the longest bayou in the United States, beginning its meandering 359 miles in Jefferson County and passing through Lincoln, Desha, Drew, Chicot, and Ashley counties before proceeding into Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, where it eventually empties into the Ouachita River near Sterlington. The present bayou …

Bayou Meto

Bayou Meto is a slow-moving stream that originates in northern Pulaski County at the confluence of several creeks west of Little Rock Air Force Base and travels 150 miles south and east through Lonoke, Arkansas, and Jefferson counties before emptying into the Arkansas River a few miles southwest of Gillett (Arkansas County); it forms parts of the boundary lines between Lonoke and Prairie counties and Arkansas and Jefferson counties. The bayou has lent its name to different communities along its path, a Civil War action in Pulaski County, and the first wildlife management agency (WMA) established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The origins of the bayou’s name are a matter of debate. Some early French documents dub …

Bear (Garland County)

Bear of Garland County was a boom town of the 1880s whose phenomenal growth was fueled by rumors that gold, silver, and other precious metals could be found in the nearby Ouachita Mountains. One enterprising fraud claimed to have found the legendary Lost Louisiana Mine. However, all such rumors ultimately proved false, and the town diminished as quickly as it had grown. Before the gold rush, people had homesteaded in the area around Bear Mountain—the mountain from which the town later took its name. One early settler was Melson Larkin. The first post office was established in 1882. As early as 1884, rumors of gold in the area began to spread. That year, the first plat of Bear was filed. A …

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 …

Beaton (Hot Spring County)

Beaton (Hot Spring County) is an unincorporated community located in western Hot Spring County on the north shore of DeGray Lake about six miles west of Bismarck (Hot Spring County). In the twenty-first century, the community consists of a number of scattered homes and churches. The community is located within the Sixteenth Section of the township, land set aside to fund public schools in the township. The land became available for purchase around 1848. Jonathan Diffee moved with his family to the area that year and established a farm. At that time, the area was located in Clark County, and Diffee petitioned the Clark County Court in 1850 to establish a new township on the east bank of the Caddo …

Beauchamp (Scott County)

Beauchamp is an unincorporated community located in southwestern Scott County. Named for the family who settled in the area, Beauchamp was established in 1901 along Black Fork Creek three miles west of Blansett (Scott County). The agricultural and timber industries have contributed to the economy and way of life in Beauchamp. Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Beauchamp was an explored wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds are located along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Fourche La Fave River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. …

Beauvoir College

In 1897, John Jefferson Lee Spence established the Drew Normal Institute in the town of Wilmar (Drew County). On May 27, 1903, the school was “chartered with the privilege of conferring degrees” by the Arkansas Board of Education. Subsequently, the college was renamed Beauvoir College, after the Mississippi estate where Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, retired. The college was initially a success, but Spence, founder and the institution’s only president, was forced to close the college in 1907. Despite the brevity of its existence, Beauvoir College signaled a new trend in higher education, as the institution sought to meet the higher-educational needs of southeast Arkansas’s working-class and rural population. Educated at the University of Mississippi, Spence came …

Beaver (Carroll County)

Named for early settler Wilson Ashbury Beaver, the Carroll County town of Beaver is on State Highway 187 about seven miles north of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Osage hunted and fished in the Ozark Mountains when European and American explorers first entered the region. White settlers gradually displaced the Osage presence. John and Sarah Williams received title to the land that would become Beaver in 1852, although their house had been built on that land around 1836. They sold this house and land to Wilson Ashbury Beaver in 1857. Beaver established several businesses on his land, including a 350-acre farm, a grist mill, a trading post, a ferry across the White River, and an inn, all of which bore the …

Beaver Dam and Lake

Beaver Lake was created by Beaver Dam in Carroll County. The lake—technically a reservoir since it was created by a manmade dam in order to store water—is located on the White River in the Ozark Highlands region of northwest Arkansas. Approximately seventy-three miles long and a maximum of two miles wide, the lake reaches from Eureka Springs (Carroll County) roughly to Fayetteville (Washington County). About 450 miles of shoreline extend through three counties: Benton, Carroll and Washington. The multi-purpose project provides flood control, hydroelectric generation, water supply, and recreation. While the possibility of a dam on the upper White River was examined as early as 1911, the first feasibility studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for constructing such …

Beebe (White County)

Beebe started out as the intersection of the railroad and Des Arc Road (now Highway 31). By 2020, Beebe’s official population stood at 8,437, a significant growth since 2000. Beebe is also the home of Arkansas State University–Beebe. Reconstruction through the Gilded Age Roswell Beebe was president of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company, which became part of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad Company. This was the company that built the railroad through White County. In 1872, the first train stopped at Des Arc Road. This intersection was designated Beebe Station in honor of Roswell Beebe. The train stopped there to take on wood and water to power the steam engine. Many of the new residents and …

Beedeville (Jackson County)

Beedeville is a town in southeastern Jackson County. It is located on State Highway 37 near the Cache River. Sawmills built in Beedeville early in the twentieth century attracted the interest of railroad investors, but the line that included Beedeville in its name was never completed to the town. The Cache River served as a transportation corridor both before and after European explorers entered Arkansas. The actual river valley, prone to flooding, remained sparsely settled even after Arkansas became a state. William H. Beede, who arrived around 1866, was probably the first settler to occupy the current site of Beedeville. He helped to organize the first public school in the area in 1880. A Church of Christ was established near …

Beirne (Clark County)

The small community of Beirne is located twenty-one miles southwest of the Clark County seat of Arkadelphia. It was founded by Illinois native and steamboat captain James Lewis Beirne in 1880. Originally named York, the community was later renamed for Beirne. The community, like many surrounding it, grew out of the timber industry, and it was once considered one of the premier shipping locations along the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. Like many of its neighboring communities, it too fell victim to waning timber production in the early 1900s. Today, Beirne is home to one of the largest producers of hardwood material in the world. Quickly after the community’s establishment, Captain Beirne built a sawmill and Methodist church, …

Belfast (Grant County)

Belfast is an unincorporated community in Dekalb Township in northern Grant County. It is located along Arkansas Highway 35, seven miles north of Sheridan (Grant County) and ten miles south of Bauxite (Saline County). Belfast was an early pioneer settlement located in what was then southern Saline County, becoming part of Grant County in 1869. The community later relocated approximately four miles east, to be near the newly established railroad, and is often referred to as New Belfast or simply, Belfast. The original community of Belfast is now commonly referred to as Old Belfast, although no physical evidence of it remains. The earliest settlers, arriving before 1840, established a small village situated near an excellent spring. Later, a two-story log …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Bella Vista (Benton County)

Bella Vista was originally planned as a summer recreation resort. Half a century later, the resort began transforming into a graduated retirement community. In 2006, citizens voted to incorporate, setting the stage for the next transformation for Bella Vista. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood Bella Vista sits in the Ozark Plateau geographical region where many native groups, including the Osage, Caddo, and Quapaw, lived. The 1808 and 1809 treaties between the United States and the Great and Little Osage in Missouri and the Osage residing on the Arkansas River transferred 30 million acres of Native American land titles to the government. A portion of this land, once the heartland of the Osage, eventually became Bella Vista. Early Twentieth Century William …