Arkansas February 19, 2018
The Unusual History Behind These 10 Arkansas Towns Will Intrigue You
The history of Arkansas is as rich and filling as a slice of possum pie. Today we’re looking at the unusual origin stories behind town names. Some of the accounts are based on tales that have become accepted as fact. Since we humans are natural storytellers, we’ve included the zestier name origins, too.
Originally named Needmore, this town changed its name because of one man. Sam Peel came to the town after the Civil War and built a store and post office. Instead of naming the post office Needmore, he named it after himself. The town changed its name to match the post office.
In 1885, Calf Creek Masonic Lodge No. 426 was founded and served as the area’s church and school. The lodge was later named Snow Hall in honor of county sheriff, Benjamin Franklin Snow. The legend goes that once the community applied for a post office, the application was smudged and read as "Snowball" by officials.
3. Oil Trough
Bauxite, Marble, and Onyx are all locations named after the mineral mined there; however, this tiny town between Batesville and Newport does not follow the same trend. In the early 19th-century, a group of hunters snagged more than one hundred bears in the area. They had to build makeshift troughs to contain the copious amount of oil from the animals until shipment could be arranged. The wooden troughs were left in the area and became a marker for anyone traveling through.
4. & 5. Mena and De Queen
These are the only towns to be named after a married couple. "De Queen" originated from one of the financiers of the Kansas City Southern Railroad, Jan de Goeijen. De Goeijen, a Holland coffee merchant, aided the railroad’s proprietor, Arthur E. Stilwell, by selling $3 million in railroad stocks. The area that would become Mena ran alongside the rail’s route. Mena is the nickname of Folmina Margaretha Janssen de Geoijen, the wife of Jan de Goeijen.
6. Toad Suck
Everyone’s favorite silly-named town has a disputed name history. One account is that "Toad Suck" is an awful attempt at pronouncing the French phrase meaning "a narrow channel in the river." The more colorful tale is that the rivermen of the area would sit at the tavern and "suck whiskey until they swelled like toads."
7. Cotton Plant
Missouri man William E. Lynch came to the area in 1846 to open a trading post. The story goes that he accidently dropped cotton seeds while unloading supplies for the store. Cotton was a novelty in the area so once they sprouted near the store the community was enthralled. They started calling the trading post "Cotton Plant." When the town applied for a post office in 1852, the first choice of Richmond had already been taken, so application was made for Cotton Plant instead.
Yet another tale of denied application. Originally, the community dubbed Newcomb was denied its post office name in 1918. The second choice (that we like to imagine was sent in with sarcastic intentions) was the name of the school district, Fifty-Six.
9. Forty Four
This town follows the same denial origin as Fifty-Six. Instead of choosing the school district number however, Forty-Four was picked because 44 names appeared on the post office application. What a weird, short-lived trend.
10. Pine Ridge
Pine Ridge may be the only town to ever be named after a radio show. The town was originally called Waters but in 1936 the name changed to honor the Lum & Abner radio show. Lum & Abner was set in the fictional town of Pine Ridge which was based off the (hopefully exaggerated) people and characteristics of Waters.
We sure do have some weird name origins. What’s your favorite town name in Arkansas? Share with us in the comments below!
You can drive to Peel and take a ride on the
last ferry boat in the state. Or go to Pine Ridge and visit one of the weirdest museums in Arkansas.