Brief History of Arkansas

It should be noted that vigorous construction of railroads in the last thirty years of 18th century had a positive impact on the development of the state’s economy. The railway companies and the government of Arkansas attracted farmers from other states and immigrants as well as investors from the foreign countries and encouraged their settlement on the lands through which the railway tracks. From 1870 to 1900 the population of the state increased from 500 thousand to 1.3 million people. That was the time of flourishing agriculture and increase production rates, coal and bauxite contributed to an influx of new hands at the ground state. “The importance of the new railroad development to the economic future of a community was evident early on. In October of 1870, the Iron Mountain announced that it would complete the Cairo & Fulton line north to the Missouri border. In an attempt to persuade the railroad to direct the line through their community, the Searcy (White County) town council met with Cairo & Fulton executives in Little Rock to formulate an agreement to survey the route. If the route proved feasible, the city agreed to pay the difference between the two routes, plus pay the railroad a bonus, payable in 20-year U.S. bonds at eight percent interest. The Searcy town council appointed I. M. Moore as their special agent to serve as a liaison” (Baker, 2000). Cotton was still the main agricultural crop, although the lands of the Great Prairie (Grand Prairie), near Stuttgart since 1894, successfully started to grow rice. Agro-industry of Arkansas held since 1890 the vast territories. By 1930, 8,005 km of land of Arkansas was not suitable for agriculture, because in these territories stretched ditches and gullies, however, followed by Florida, the state began to drain the soil, preparing them for agriculture. However, work on drainage, as a result, caused an increase in prices of products by farmers, but the market demand for luxury goods did not match their prices. Farmers experienced severe losses.

Economic prosperity of agriculture in Arkansas in 1880 has ended but the railroads keep on their development.

Drought and falling market prices caused the crisis. Farmers in the state began to organize mutual benefit societies, which have become political influence to oppose the authorities of the State Democratic Party. Partisan movement of farmers has been called “populism” (populism). Populists sought supporters, speaking for the creation of farmer cooperatives across the country for a reduction in transport tariffs for railway transportation, offering to nationalize the railroads of the State, for participation in the public market price formation.

In 1888 elections, they joined with labor groups, representing 15,000 votes for the nomination of its candidate for governor. Over 12 years of Democratic Party state has adopted many reforms were based on farmers’ interests a platform. As a result, many farmers have returned to the ranks of the Democratic Party, dissolving thereby move farmers.


With the votes in support of former populist populists in the ranks of the movement were solely “white” farmers, a Democrat Jay Davis (Jeff Davis) was elected governor of the state. By adopting methods and ideas of the movement farmers, Davis joined the confrontation with the authorities of railroad companies, trusts and insurance companies. Although Davis was known as unprincipled demagogue, he still managed to achieve political reform, to collect unpaid debts to railway companies, establishing record keeping and pay most of the public debt of the state. It should be noted that since the 20th century the railroads were still very significant, but started to lose their core importance, as the era of automobile was beginning. Since the end of the 19th century the length of Arkansas railroads was significantly decreased.

Annotated Bibliography:

Clifton E. Hull, Shortline Railroads of Arkansas, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969

This investigation provides a number of relevant information dealing with the establishment and further development of railroads in Arkansas. It starts from the first lines opened nearly at the middle of the 19th century and ending up with the touring routs, which are very popular in Arkansas now.

David Y. Thomas, Arkansas and its People: A History, 1541-1930, Vol. II, New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1930.

This source provides relevant information, relating to the history of the State, starting from the 16th century ending with the 1930. It gives informative data about the development of the state, describing the impact railroads had on the life of the state and how they influenced the development of the land.

Herndon, Dallas T., ed. Annals of Arkansas. 4 vols. Little Rock, Arkansas: The Historical Record Association, 1947.

This investigation provides a number of relevant historical data. It has no direct relation to the railroad formation and development of Arkansas, mainly focusing on the social aspect. But it gives relevant information about the impact railroads had on the Arkansas famers’ communities.

John L. Ferguson and J. H. Atkinson, Historic Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas: Arkansas History Commission, 1966

Research provides descriptive and relevant information on the history of the state. It assists in understanding the historical significance of the railroad for the state and its dwellers. The hirtorical perspective provided by the author gives a number of relevant data, which helped the research a lot.

William D. Baker, Historic Railroad Depots of Arkansas 1870-1940, Little Rock, AR: the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

The major source, which gave the most relevant information about formation, development of Arkansas railroad transportation and its connection to the different social, political and economic spheres of the State’s life

American-Rails, Arkansas Railroads and Railfanning In “The Natural State”, 2007

This source provide interesting facts about Arkansas railroad creation and their contemporary statement, perfectly illustrated by different historical pictures and photos as well as providing illustrative graphs and diagrams, as supportive evidence.

Hempstead, Fay, Historical Review of Arkansas: Its Commerce, Industry and Modern Affairs. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911.

This investigation mainly deals with the historical observation of social, economical and political life of Arkansas. Even it did not directly investigates the history of Arkansas railroad transportation, – it provided a number of relevant data dealing with the correlation between these aspects and railroads.

Walter L. Brown, review of The St. Louis – San Francisco Transcontinental Railroad: The Thirty-Fifth Parallel Project, 1853-1890, by Craig H. Miner, in Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 (Spring 1972),

This review gives general information about railroads formation and development in the second half of the 19th century. It provides a number of interesting facts and information dealing with the creation and development of railroad transportation in the US

Stephen E. Wood, “The Development of Arkansas Railroads,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. VII, No. 2 (Summer 1948),

This research deals with the development of Arkansas Railroads and gives a lot of historical information and relevant data dealing with creation and development of railroad systems in the State. It tells a lot about peculiarities of the American railroad system its flourishing and decay in Arkansas

Wolfe, Jonathan James. “Background of German Immigration.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXV, No. 2 (Summer 1966).

This article describes the Germans’ immigration to Arkansas and nits historical background. Even it does not has close relation to the major subject of the investigation. It tells a lot about the role railroads played in the US and how their wide spread correlated with the immigration