It’s funny, but a Little Rock native will correct you over something as simple as a mispronounced street name. Take winding, lengthy Cantrell Road, for example…you might overhear someone say “Oh, you mean CAN-truhl, right?” when an innocent out-of-towner dares to ask where “Can-TRELL” Road meets University Road in the capital city. It’s nothing personal, world. It’s just the way Arkansans are about pronunciation of places around here. However, even the staunchest Arkansan may have trouble recognizing the funny names of certain locations found across the state.
1. Chickalah: This small, unincorporated community is located in Yell County, Arkansas.
Chickalah is located on Arkansas Highway 27 approximately 8 miles southwest of Dardanelle.
2. Quapaw: A tribe of Midwestern Native Americans who lived during the 17th century on the west side of the Mississippi River in what is now the state of Arkansas, the Quapaw are the first Arkansans.
The territory and state were named for them, as Europeans first learned their name as the Arkansea, the term used by the Algonquian-speaking Illini people. The Quapaw are federally recognized as the Quapaw Tribe of Indians.
3. Ouachita: Named for the mountain range in west-central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma, the word Ouachita is composed of two Choctaw words: 'ouac', a buffalo, and 'chito', large. It means the "country of large buffalo," as numerous buffalo would once roam the Ouachita prairie.
Other sources claim the name comes from the French spelling of the Caddo word 'wishita', meaning "good hunting grounds."
4. Wiederkehr: Johann Wiederkehr and his family emigrated in 1880 from Switzerland to Altus, Arkansas. He chose St. Mary's Mountain, near Altus, as the location of his new home because the area's mountains, valleys, and ridges had many different microclimates, some resembling the grape-growing climates in Europe's finest wine regions.
One of Johann's first tasks was to carve a large wine cellar from a hillside. The cellar still exists, and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Johann's wine cellar was converted into the Weinkeller Restaurant.
5. Tyronza: This small town in Poinsett County, Arkansas, is near Jonesboro. The population was 762 at the 2010 census.
Tyronza is one of the oldest cities within Poinsett County with its origins dating back to the late 19th century. In the 1930s it was the site where the Southern Tenant Farmers movement started, a national outcry against the abusive discrimination of wealthy land owners against sharecroppers who were mostly African-American farmers. There is now a museum in the city run by Arkansas State University highlighting the history of the movement and the history of the region.
6. Izard: It's pronounced IZZ-urd! This Arkansas county named for War of 1812 General and Arkansas Territorial Governor George Izard.
Located near northeast Arkansas, cities in Izard County include Calico Rock and Horeshoe Bend.
7. Arkinda: Choctaw City, later known as Arkinda, Arkansas, was an Indian Trading Post during the nineteenth century. In 1832, Choctaw Indians were moved from east of the Mississippi River to Indian Territory across the state line.
In the early days Choctaw City had several saloons and stores. The town became a typical border town with the inevitable lawlessness, drinking, and fighting. This was the status of Choctaw City until July 5, 1899, when the name was changed to Arkinda.
8. Gamaliel: An unincorporated community in Baxter County, Arkansas, Gamaliel is located at the northernmost central tip of Arkansas along the Missouri state border.
Gamaliel is located along Arkansas Highway 101, approximately 12 miles northeast of Mountain Home.
9. Siloam Springs: The "Springs" part is easy enough to pronounce, but some out-of-towners have a little trouble with the "Cy-lowm" part. The city shares a border on the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line with the city of West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma, which is within the Cherokee Nation territory.
Today, Siloam Springs is known for its efforts to preserve and revitalize the city's historic downtown and as a promoter of local arts. In 2012, the city was named one of the 20 "Best Small Towns in America" by Smithsonian magazine.
10. Wabbaseka: A town in Jefferson County, Arkansas, Wabbaseka is not far from the county seat of Pine Bluff.
Arkansas state flag designer Willie K. Hocker and political activist Eldridge Cleaver hail from Wabbaseka.
Traveling Arkansas gives you a better feel for some of the stranger names around the Natural State. Whether you can properly pronounce these locations or not, however, doesn’t have any bearing on how much enjoyment you’ll get out of visiting the towns!