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
Des 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 page.

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 desarc.wmsc.K12.ar.us.


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