REX NELSON: Crossing Ashley County

Ashley County is a kind of Arkansas counties that embrace two of the state’s geographic areas. The japanese a part of the county is within the Delta, with its row-crop agriculture. To the west is the Gulf Coastal Plain, with its pine forests. I am driving via Ashley County from east to west as a part of a visit that can take me from Mississippi to Texas on U.S. 82.

“Though western Ashley County is famous for the timber business, which is centered in Crossett, the japanese a part of the county belongs to the Mississippi River Delta area, which was dwelling to quite a few cotton plantations earlier than and after the Civil Warfare,” Steven Teske wrote for the Central Arkansas Library System’s Encyclopedia of Arkansas. “Dugald McMillan was the primary landowner who registered a patent for the land the place Montrose now stands. His plantation, like others within the area, employed a lot of slaves, lots of whom remained after the conflict, working as tenant farmers for a similar landowners. Consequently, African Individuals have outnumbered whites within the space from the time slavery ended till now.”

This a part of Ashley County loved prosperity from the tip of Reconstruction till the Nice Flood of 1927 and the Nice Melancholy, which started two years later.

Based on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas: “The railroads that had developed within the late 1890s helped help the financial system however have been later supplanted by the expansion in freeway transportation. Communities within the japanese a part of the county have been supported by farming, whereas Crossett continued its progress as a producing heart. Ashley County was inside the flood zone in 1927. The best impact of the flood was felt within the low-lying Delta area of the county, whereas the upland wooden product manufacturing space skilled solely minor disruptions of exercise.

“Ashley County was dwelling to an essential federal experiment within the public well being sector throughout this period. In 1916, a mosquito-eradication mission was funded, which lowered the incidence of malaria by virtually 80 % utilizing a system of drainage and poisoning. This method turned often called the Crossett Undertaking and was used for example in different components of the nation. The county’s inhabitants started to say no after World Warfare II as agricultural staff have been changed by machines and others left for better-paying jobs.”

By the early 20th century, timber demand started shifting prosperity within the county from the Delta to the Gulf Coastal Plain.

“Demand for wooden fiber for a rising nation led lumbermen, traders and speculators into the huge forest that stretches from east Texas throughout the decrease Mississippi River Valley to the Florida Panhandle,” wrote the late Invoice Norman of Crossett. “Demand having outstripped the forest assets of the Nice Lakes area, new sources for timber have been sought. One results of the curiosity within the forestland of the South was the founding of Crossett. The land in western Ashley County was of the upland forest selection and was largely undeveloped and sparsely settled on this period because the terrain was unsuitable for farming. Cities that have been shaped, comparable to Fountain Hill, had populations of lower than 500.

“As a longtime neighborhood with rail service, Hamburg would appear to have been the logical web site for a sawmill. Nonetheless, firm officers determined that the higher course could be to ascertain a brand new city, and Crossett was born. The location chosen was about 15 miles west of Hamburg.”

Crossett Lumber Co. was included in 1899 and established ties with Yale College’s Faculty of Forestry, a relationship that introduced a few of the nation’s high foresters to this once-isolated a part of south Arkansas.

“Yale’s preliminary analysis was later augmented by the research on the 1,680-acre Crossett Experimental Forest, headquartered about seven miles south of city,” Norman wrote. “Established in 1934, the U.S. Forest Service’s analysis program at Crossett focuses on the silviculture of naturally regenerated loblolly and shortleaf pine forests. A number of of the buildings on the Crossett Experimental Forest are on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations.”

Crossett grew right into a mannequin firm city. There was a first-class public faculty system. Within the 1940s, the Crossett Faculty District turned one of many smallest districts within the nation to be accredited by the North Central Affiliation.

“Crossett was a diversified forest merchandise manufacturing heart following the development of a paper mill within the mid-1930s,” Norman wrote. “A division producing and advertising specialty chemical compounds and charcoal adopted. … Following a divisive labor strike in 1940, staff in Crossett’s manufacturing crops have been granted the appropriate to ascertain commerce unions.”

Crossett Lumber Co. was bought in 1962 by Georgia-Pacific Corp. The son of firm founder Edward S. Crossett had died in 1955, and household heirs started to contemplate the choice of promoting their inventory. The announcement of a sale to Union Bag & Paper was made in 1960, however by the autumn that plan had fallen via. Enterprise went on as ordinary for Crossett Lumber Co. the subsequent two years. It was revealed on April 18, 1962, that Georgia-Pacific had bought the corporate.

There have been main strikes via the years. The 58-day strike in 1940 introduced the town’s financial system to a standstill earlier than a compromise was reached with the assistance of a younger pastor named Aubrey Halsell. A second strike occurred in 1985, and Georgia-Pacific ordered that everlasting replacements be despatched in. The strike divided the city, and the consequences nonetheless linger.


Senior Editor Rex Nelson’s column seems commonly within the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is additionally the creator of the Southern Fried weblog at

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