You don’t have to be from a big town to have a big time story about where you’re from! Yes, Little Rock locals who can recall a different era are still able to share the drama that centered around the Central High crisis of 1957, but there’s so much more that’s happened around here. These locations across Arkansas aren’t the biggest, but some of America’s biggest stories emanated from these small towns around the Natural State and left an impression on the entire country.
7. Evening Shade
For a town with a population of less than 500, Evening Shade is actually one of the more recognized names when it comes to the Natural State. Burt Reynolds fans as well as 1990s television aficionados will recall the character of football coach "Wood" Newton on the CBS sitcom 'Evening Shade' that ran from 1990 until 1994. The television series focused on the unique small-town humor of Evening Shade and even featured such well-known Arkansas locations as McClard's BBQ in Hot Springs.
The summer of 1914 would see conflict in the coal fields around the small town of Hartford, at that time one of the most prosperous mining areas in the world. The hard-working miners were unionized and being paid wages the mining unions fought to keep fair. Once the Bache–Denman mines in the area became non-union mines, locals felt trouble stirring and the owner of the mines employed armed backup for protection against angry unionized miners. Tensions exploded on a hot July night when shots were fired at a miner's home near the Prairie Creek mine in an attempt to arouse hostility between the wealthy mine owners and their employees. A few nights later, chaos would erupt between the local miners and the owners, resulting in the deaths of two Bache miners whose killers were never brought to justice. The days after the riot would even see the President at the time, Woodrow Wilson, calling in the calvary to Hartford to restore peace.
The Roaring Twenties would see two Arkansas towns prosper greatly from the discover of oil. El Dorado is widely known for being a boom town of the era, but the small town of Smackover would share the spotlight and prosperity in the summer of 1922 when a substantial amount of oil came rushing from the ground. By 1925, Smackover became one of the world's largest oil producing sites.
It's not a pleasant memory at all, but it's a big event that happened in a very small town and must not be forgotten. The Elaine race riot of September 1919 started with a gathering of African-American farmers who sought a fair payment for the crops they produced for plantation owners. The result saw the farmers' demand terribly misunderstood by local citizens as an uprising. The town of Elaine called for government assistance and recieved it in the amount of over 500 United States troops descending on the area. The fiasco ended with hundreds upon hundreds of innocent lives taken and much national press focused on Arkansas. The injustice that occured is now being examined further by historians who continue to hold conferences on the events that took place.
3. Eureka Springs
2015 has been a hectic year for the residents of Eureka Springs, as it seems the eclectic little town has become a national media hotspot when it comes to the ongoing debate about gay marriage rights in America. No stranger to publicity because of the town's welcoming and refreshingly relaxed attitude towards all walks of life, Eureka Springs has taken the spotlight in stride. The town continues to attract tourists who are eager to see the beautiful scenery and people who live there.
The early 20th century residents of Hope likely would have been very surprised to find the town's place currently solidified in political history! This small, quaint town is the birthplace of both Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee - one little Arkansas town gave America two completely opposite political figures. Go red, go blue, go figure!
No need to go through passport paperwork and travel to distant lands if you want to be a diamond hunter. The little town of Murfreesboro has big appeal thanks to the Crater of Diamonds, the only public-access location in the world where everybody's free to dig up and discover a gem that could make history!
So many other little towns from around Arkansas have so much history – Maya Angelou overcame some of life’s toughest obstacles in a locale as small as Stamps – and there are a variety of stories out there in small towns across the Natural State! What other small towns in Arkansas have seen such attention-getting events? Sound off in the comments about these little places and others across the state where big things happened!