History of Polk County

 

Polk County Townships

Facts About Polk County

Polk County Beginnings

 

 

Polk County Townships

 

Alphabetical*

 

 

Chronological

 

Big Fork Township

Created 1860. Part to Mill Creek Township in 1908.

 

Freedom Township

Created in 1846. Part to Rich Mountain in 1890.

Cedar Township

Created in 1889.

 

Fulton Township

Created in 1846.

Center Township

Created in 1849. Part to Eagle Gap in 1894.

 

Sulphur Springs Township

Created in 1846. Annexed to Howard County in 1873.

Cove Township

Created in 1860.

 

White Township

Created in 1846.

Eagle Township

Created about 1882.

 

Center Township

Created in 1849. Part to Eagle Gap in 1894.

Eagle Gap Township

Created in 1894 from parts of Center and Ouachita Townships.

 

Big Fork Township

Created in 1860. Part to Mill Crek Township in 1908.

Faulkner Township

Created about 1888.

 

Cove Township

Created in 1860.

Freedom Township

Created in 1846. Part to Rich Mountain in 1890.

 

Mountain Township

Created in 1860.

Fulton Township

Created in 1846

 

Ouachita Township

Created in 1860. Not available for 1860 census. Part to Eagle Gap in 1894.

Gap Springs Township

Created in 1875.

 

Ozark Township

Created about 1874.

Mill Creek Township

Created in 1908 from Big Fork Township.

 

 

 

Mountain Township

Created in 1860.

 

Gap Springs Township

Created in 1875.

Ouachita Township

Created in 1860. Not available for 1860 census. Part to Eagle Gap in 1894.

 

Eagle Township

Created about 1882.

Ozark Township

Created about 1874.

 

Faulkner Township

Created about 1888.

Potter Township

Created in 1890.

 

Cedar Township

Created in 1889.

Rich Mountain Township

Created in 1890 from part of Freedom Township.

 

Potter Township

Created in 1890.

Sulphur Springs Township

Created in 1846. Annexed to Howard County in 1873.

 

Rich Mountain Township

Created in 1890 from part of Freedom Township.

White Township

Created in 1846.

 

Mill Creek Township

Created in 1908 from Big Fork Township.

*from Arkansas Township Atlas by Russell P. Baker

 

Return to Top

 

 

Facts About Polk County

from History of Polk County, Arkansas

Troy William and Leon Toon, Editors

Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation: 1988

 

Polk County Arkansas was formed December 30, 1844 by an act of the Arkansas General Assembly and was named after President James K. Polk.

 

Polk County is bounded on the north by Scott County, on the east by Montgomery County, on the south by Howard and Sevier Counties and on the west by the state of Oklahoma.

 

It has an area of 846 square miles and an average elevation of 1,300 feet and lies in the Ouachita Mountain ranges. Included is Rich Mountain, with an elevation of 2,682 feet, officially the second highest elevation in Arkansas. Official records list Mt. Magazine as the highest with 2,753 feet.

 

Perched atop Rich Mountain is Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, part of the state park of the same name. The Lodge, build by the railroad in 1896 and named for the queen of Holland, closed three years later. Acquired for a state park in 1958 it was completely reconstructed in 1969. The Inn was destroyed by fire in 1973 and immediately replaced.

 

Rich Mountain contains more different kinds of wild fruit, medicinal plants, timber, flowers, ferns, mosses, grasses, weeds and other small plants in a natural state on one single square mile than is found anywhere else in the world.

 

This information was submitted by Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” context in 1986 and won first place.

 

The Talimena Scenic Drive, the only National Scenic Highway in the southwest, leads out of Mena across the top of Rich Mountain, past Queen Wilhelmina State Park, and over to Talihina, Oklahoma.

 

In the 1980 census, Polk County had a population of 17,007, the highest ever, although the county’s population has varied not more than 2,000 since the early 1900s.

 

Projected population by 1990 is 19,500.

 

Mena, as the county seat, is the largest incorporated town with a 1980 population of 5,154. Other incorporated towns include Cove, 391; Grannis, 349; Hatfield, 410; Vandervoort, 98; and Wickes, 464. All are 1980 census figures.

 

Over the years, the numerous small, community schools have been consolidated into five public school districts with a total of 1988 enrollment of 3,3346. Mena’s enrollment in the spring of 1988 was 1,754; Acorn, 870; Hatfield, 208; Van-Cove, 412; and Wickes, 512.

 

Mena is also the home of Rich Mountain Community College, a two-year institution formed in 1983 and combining the then Rich Mountain Vo-Tech school with the Mena branch of Henderson State College.

 

The college, with a spring 1988 enrollment of 465, is in the final phase of complete accreditation by the North Central Association. In addition to offering the first two years of study for a four-year degree, the college offers numerous associate degrees, along with one-year certificates in vo-tech and a continuous program of non-credit community service courses for all ages.

 

Polk County is drained by the Ouachita, Cossatot and Mountain Fork rivers, among many other streams of varying size, most of which originate within the county.

 

Weather-wise, the county has a mean annual rainfall of 54 inches, mean January temperature of 41 degrees and mean July temperature of 79 degrees.

 

 

Return to Top

 

 

Polk County Beginnings

from The 1868 Report:

A Collection of Historical Documents from Arkansas’s First Land Commissioner

Little Rock, AR: Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands, 2002

 

Polk County was created in 1844 by the Arkansas legislature from the northern part of Sevier County, on the state’s western edge about mid-way along the Arkansas-Oklahoma boundary. It was named for James K. Polk of Tennessee, who became United States president the same year the county was established. The land is rolling to mountainous, drained by the Ouachita River, which originates north of Mena, and the Cossatot River, also beginning in the area, along with a multitude of other creeks. Rich Mountain, in the northwest corner, is the second-highest point in the state.

 

Settlement began in the 1830s over very rough trails, since there were no navigable streams or useful roadways. The county government was originally located at the home of J. Pirtle, also the site of the Panther post office. Soon the county seat was located at the nearly town of Dallas, named for George M. Dallas, U. S. vice-president under James Polk, where it stayed for the next half century, including at the time of this 1868 report. Many of the county records from this era were lost to fires, so the county’s early history is problematic. The coming of the railroad in the 1890s prompted the county seat to move in 1896 to its current location at Mena, a few miles north of Dallas. The railroad was the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf, and one of its major financiers was John A. DeGoeijen of the Netherlands, whose mother or sister are said to have been the source of the name Mena.

 

The railroad was a major boon to the economy, especially to the timber industry. Other sources of income for the residents have been ranching, truck farming and a small amount of mining.

 

 

Return to Top

 

Return to PCGS Home Page