Entry Type: Place - Starting with O

Ouachita County

  Ouachita County, the forty-fifth county in Arkansas, was created in 1842 from land taken from the northwestern 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 …

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains, one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as folded ridges and valleys composed of Paleozoic rocks. They are unusual in North America in that the ridges are generally aligned east to west, unlike the Rocky Mountains or Appalachian Mountains, where the ridges usually run north to south. The most striking result of this orientation is that there is an extensive south-facing slope on each ridge that is exposed to the heat and light of the sun, as well as a north-facing slope that is protected from direct solar radiation and is consequently cooler and moister. The dry south-facing slopes are often covered with pine forests or woodlands, or even drier oak woodlands, while …

Ouachita National Forest

The Ouachita National Forest, originally called the Arkansas National Forest, was created through an executive order issued by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 18, 1907. Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot remarked at the time that this national forest was the only major shortleaf pine forest under the federal government’s protection. In January 1908, the Arkansas Sentinel newspaper reprinted an article from Forestry and Irrigation Magazine that praised the hearty spirit of cooperation manifested by Arkansas’s people and spoke of benefits to be gained by the conservation of timber supplies. At first, the Arkansas National Forest consisted solely of reserved public domain lands (part of the Louisiana Purchase) south of the Arkansas River. The 1911 Weeks Law, which authorized federal purchase …

Ouachita National Recreation Trail

The Ouachita National Recreation Trail, an approximately 225-mile back country trail, runs east and west the length of the Ouachita Mountains. More commonly referred to as the “Ouachita Trail,” it lies primarily within the Ouachita National Forest. Most of the trail (177 miles) is in Arkansas, with forty-six miles extending into Oklahoma. Both ends of the trail are in state parks. The eastern terminus is in Pinnacle Mountain State Park west of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the western terminus is in Talimena State Park in Oklahoma. The trail also crosses a third state park, Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Polk County. Terrain across the length of the trail is rugged, providing a variety of hiking experiences and scenic opportunities. Elevation …

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 6, 1980, to protect one of the remaining bottomland hardwood forest tracts in the Lower Mississippi River Valley (LMRV). Located in Ashley County, it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior. These bottomland forests are used by a huge contingent of migratory birds including waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds. Original refuge land acquisitions were limited to forested bottomlands only, as they were in eminent danger of being drained and cleared for agriculture. The refuge has been officially designated a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) by the American Bird Conservancy. Most of the land within the …

Owensville (Saline County)

Owensville is an unincorporated rural community in Dyer Township of Saline County, located along Arkansas State Highway 5, approximately seventeen miles west of Benton (Saline County) and eighteen miles east of Hot Springs (Garland County). The community takes its name from James Monroe Owen, an early pioneer and the first postmaster. Early settlers to the area farmed and hunted the rich lands along the Saline River and eastern Ouachita Mountains. In 1827–1828, James Monroe Owen, son of Collegeville (Saline County) founder Ezra Owen and uncle of “boy martyr of the Confederacy” David Owen Dodd, settled in what would become Dyer Township. As more settlers arrived, a post office was established and named Owensville, and James M. Owen became the first …

Oxford (Izard County)

The city of Oxford was not incorporated until 1945, although it has been an active settlement since the middle of the nineteenth century. Located on Highway 9 in Izard County, Oxford is about halfway between Melbourne (Izard County) and Salem (Fulton County). One of the first settlers to arrive in what would become Oxford was Wiley Croom. He joined William McCollough and James McCuistion, both of whom were evidently already living in the area, although they did not register their land grants at the federal land office until the 1850s. Croom built and operated the first cotton mill and the first grist mill in the region. He later added the first cotton gin, which was also the last cotton gin operating …

Ozan (Hempstead County)

aka: Mound Prairie (Hempstead County)
Ozan is a railroad town on U.S. Highway 278 in northern Hempstead County. Although never a large settlement, it has played a significant role in Arkansas history, particularly that of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. When European explorers first entered the land that would become Hempstead County, they encountered the Caddo, who lived in villages along the Red River. Europeans and Americans were particularly attracted to the rich soil of southwestern Arkansas. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the Caddo—whose numbers were greatly reduced due to diseases introduced by Europeans—gradually were pushed out of the area, ending up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) by the time Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836. The name Ozan appears to be a form of …

Ozark (Franklin County)

Founded in 1836, Ozark is one of the state’s oldest cities. Ozark, from the French words “Aux Arc,” meaning “at the bend,” is located at the most northern bend in the Arkansas River, which flows through the city’s southern boundary. Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In the early nineteenth century, following the Louisiana Purchase, the Arkansas River was well traveled. The Cherokee lived along the river, and American military personnel used that route to travel to and from Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Local folklore claims that French explorers came up the Arkansas River in 1819. They reportedly shot an arrow and vowed to found a town where the arrow landed. The arrow allegedly landed just northeast of the present Franklin …

Ozark Folk Center State Park

The Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View (Stone County) may be the only state park in Arkansas dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Southern mountain folkways and traditions. When opened in 1973, the park was hailed as a home for traditional crafts and music and has since become one of the important institutions preserving this particular way of life. The idea for the folk center grew from the success of the Arkansas Folk Festival, which debuted in April 1963 in Mountain View under the sponsorship of the Ozark Foothills Handicraft Guild (later known as the Arkansas Craft Guild) and the Rackensack Folklore Society. Although the Folk Festival continues to highlight the crafts and music of the area, …

Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum

Housed in a historic Depression-era building constructed of native stone, the Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum in Leslie (Searcy County) collects and exhibits the rich musical, cultural, and historical heritage of the Ozark Mountain region. During the Depression, the citizens of Leslie approached the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to construct a gymnasium to complement the school built in 1910 during the city’s boom years. The native-stone building was completed and opened in 1938; it was used by the school system for the next forty-eight years, until 1986, when the system constructed new facilities nearby. School superintendent Ed Bradberry is generally given credit for the idea to convert the empty gymnasium into an arts center, and retired local merchants Rex …

Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail

The Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail is a 165-mile-long hiking and backpacking route across northwestern Arkansas. The trail’s western terminus is Lake Fort Smith State Park in Crawford County, and its eastern terminus lies within the Buffalo National River park in Searcy County. The trail runs almost entirely through the Ozark National Forest, which regulates use. The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT), as it is often called, was created by the National Forest Service in the 1970s, though inadequate federal funding limited route planning and construction to short segments. In response, area hiking enthusiasts in 1981 formed the Ozark Highlands Trail Association (OHTA). This all-volunteer group took over trail design and construction, completing the OHT in 1984. The association, working in …

Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology

The Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology was sponsored by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and operated by college president Dan W. Evans from 1927 to 1932 at Monte Ne (Benton County), in buildings formerly part of William “Coin” Harvey’s Monte Ne resort. Dan Webster Evans (July 21, 1885–September 19, 1963) was born and raised in Boone County and married Rexie Gilbert (May 13, 1892–September 29, 1976) there in 1910; they had six children. His religious upbringing is unknown, but from 1914 to 1915, he and his wife were faculty members at the Pentecostal Holiness School in Stratford,Oklahoma. Pentecostalism grew out of the American Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church, one division of that …

Ozark Land Holding Association

Founded in 1981, the Ozark Land Holding Association (OLHA) is an intentional community—a communal living arrangement based on shared land and common interests—located in Madison County about twenty miles outside of Fayetteville (Washington County). OLHA, which is a community of lesbians, chose the somewhat vague label “intentional community” in an effort to avoid problems with the rest of the broader community. OLHA was one of several women’s land communities created in northwestern Arkansas in the 1970s and 1980s, including Yellowhammer, Sassafras, Whippoorwillow, Arco Iris, and Spinsterhaven. The community was founded by author Diana Rivers and nineteen other women based upon their efforts on the belief that a community based in land specifically set aside for women offered an opportunity for …

Ozark Mountains

The Ozark Mountains (a.k.a. the Ozark Plateau or Plateaus), representing one of the six natural divisions of Arkansas, are generally characterized as uplifted level plateaus composed of Paleozoic rocks. Streams have cut valleys into these plateaus, and, in some cases, the plateau surface is only visible as the flat tops of the mountains at similar elevations. The three distinct plateaus differ in topography, geology, vegetation, as well as inhabitants’ land use, history, and culture. Boston Plateau At up to 2,600 feet, the Boston Plateau, usually referred to as the Boston Mountains because of its ruggedness, is the highest of the Ozark Mountains. It extends as a belt across the southernmost Ozarks, generally parallel to and to the north of Interstate …