ABOUT FORREST CITY, AR
Forrest City, on the western slopes of Crowley's Ridge, is a popular exit from Interstate 40 for travelers seeking recreation, historic sites and accommodations. Village Creek State Park is nearby, offering 7,000 acres of woodlands, streams, lakes, cabins and camping. Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway passes through Forrest City as part of its course along the delta's most unique natural wonder.
The St. Francis County Museum, in the downtown area, is filled with memorabilia from the past, including pre-historic artifacts found in the area. Forrest City offers a sports complex, convention facilities and accommodations.
Forrest City has been a center of commerce and trade since its incorporation in 1870. Serving as the county seat since 1874, it is the only such named city in the world spelled with two Rs.
The many Native American artifacts found along the St. Francis River and a number of identified Indian mounds within the county provide evidence that the area was inhabited long before the expedition of Hernando de Soto. White settlers began to be attracted to the high ground on Crowley’s Ridge by the early 1800s. In 1827, the territorial legislature created St. Francis County, and the completion of the Military Road connecting Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock (Pulaski County) brought additional settlers.
The outbreak of the war interrupted construction of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, which passed through St. Francis County. The town began to develop rapidly. By the end of 1869, the first freight train arrived, and passenger service was available within two years.
The first mercantile, Izard Brothers and Prewett, was open before 1870. With its connection to the railroad, Forrest City was becoming the commercial center for local cotton farmers. In 1870, the first newspaper, the Forrest City Free Press, was founded, soon followed by the Forrest City Times. In 1877, a third newspaper, the Forrest City Democrat, was established. Further growth prompted incorporation on May 11, 1870, with J. W. Grogan as the first mayor.
The city was struck by a devastating fire in the winter of 1874, resulting in the destruction of nine buildings. Tragedy struck the city again during the fall of 1879 with a yellow fever outbreak. Much of the area was inundated during the Flood of 1927 and again in the Flood of 1937. The area was hit hard by the Great Depression and the Drought of 1930–31, with fifty percent of the county’s farmers receiving government aid.
Recreational attractions in the area include Village Creek State Park. The L’Anguille and St. Francis rivers are popular fishing streams. Several structures in Forrest City are included on the National Register of Historic Places; one, the Rush-Gates Home, is the site of the St. Francis County Museum.
Famous residents include Josiah Homer Blount, a local businessman and educator who was the first African American to run for governor of Arkansas. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Al Green was born in Forrest City, as well as former major league baseball player Don Kessinger. Van Louis McDaniel of Forrest City was Miss Arkansas in 1948.