History of Des Arc
The history of Des Arc all started on the White River as early French traders
came down the White River in the early 1700’s. The first known settlers here
were Creoles Watts and East in about 1810. Fur was the chief commodity being
sold on the New Orleans market as trappers made their way
along the White River. The name Des Arc is in fact connected with the White
River, meaning the bow or the bend or the curve.
Some earlier names for the settlement of Des Arc are Des Arcs, the plural for
the above translation, des Argues, Desarc, des Arques, Desare, McNulty’s Bluff,
Des Arcs Bluff, and Dezark Bluff. It was not until after the Civil War that the
name Des Arc was accepted among all.
Des Arc is located in Prairie County which was first a part of Arkansas County,
and then Pulaski County. On November 25, 1846, Arkansas Governor Thomas S.
Drew, approved a legislative act creating Prairie County. The city of Des Arc
was officially Incorporated on December 28, 1854.
In the fall of 1858, Legislators entertained the thought of Des Arc becoming
the capital of the state of Arkansas and missed out by only one vote.
Industries in this county, after the civil war was listed as: Fishing, Timber,
Steamboat Trade, Railroading ,Farming, Musseling, Button Factories, Boat Oar
Factory, Cannery, Stave Mills, Haying on the Prairie, Cotton Gins, Flour Mill,
Nursery, Ice Factory, & Dairies.
In 1903 the rice industry came to Prairie County. Slowly, rice has become one
of the major grains grown in this county. Today, farming is the chief industry
of Des Arc and the surrounding areas of Prairie County.
Ferries were in use locally until about 1927 when a massive suspension bridge
was built. The private firm out of Memphis that constructed the bridge
initially built it as a toll bridge. Eventually the state of Arkansas purchased
the bridge and discontinued the toll. This suspension bridge was operational
until the early 1970’s when the state of Arkansas built a new structure.
The Northern District Courthouse in Des Arc once again burned in 1911.
Thankfully, an underground vault had been constructed and records were saved.
The current courthouse was constructed in 1914.
Des Arc Today
Arc is one of two county seats in Prairie County with a population of about
1,800. Although a small town, it has two banks, two health/medical care clinics
with walk-in privileges, a pharmacy, the Prairie County Health, two grocery
stores, a dollar store, and several gas stations and auto repair garages. It
has several eating establishments serving barbeque, catfish, and other foods
ranging from fast food to down-home cooking. It also has numerous other
businesses. In addition, it has two parks and a walking trail. (See the
printable City Map or visit the
Business Directory page for more information.)
Des Arc has numerous
churches that provide a family-church oriented atmosphere and contribute to the
feeling of a small town community. In addition to scheduled worship services,
they often provide activities such as potlucks, musical programs, and revivals.
All visitors to the community are welcome to attend services and to participate
in special activities. Fore more information on local churches including
contact information, visit the Non-Profit Directory
Des Arc has several special and private schools for 3-5 year old children as
well as public elementary, junior-high, and senior-high schools. The schools
are small enough that all the students know each other, but provide many clubs
and activities to meet interests of most students. The junior and senior-high
schools have active athletic programs aided by cheerleaders, a band and great
family attendance at events. For more information on Des Arc Public Schools,
visit their website
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