Harrison, Arkansas

Harrison is a city in Boone County, Arkansas, United States. It is the county seat of Boone County. It is named after General Marcus LaRue Harrison, a surveyor who laid out the city along Crooked Creek at Stifler Springs.[4] According to 2019 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 13,080,[5] up from 12,943 at the 2010 census and it is the 30th largest city in Arkansas based on official 2019 estimates from the US Census Bureau.[6] Harrison is the principal city of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boone and Newton counties.

Historic downtown Harrison
"Adventure Awaits You"[1]
Location of Harrison in Boone County, Arkansas.
Location of Harrison in Boone County, Arkansas.
Coordinates: 36°14′14″N 93°6′49″W / 36.23722°N 93.11361°W / 36.23722; -93.11361Coordinates: 36°14′14″N 93°6′49″W / 36.23722°N 93.11361°W / 36.23722; -93.11361
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedMarch 1, 1876
 • MayorJerry Jackson
 • Total11.23 sq mi (29.09 km2)
 • Land11.20 sq mi (29.01 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
1,050 ft (320 m)
 • Total12,943
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,167.65/sq mi (450.82/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)870
FIPS code05-30460
GNIS feature ID0077134

The predominantly white community is noted for its history of racism, which includes two race riots in the early 20th century and an influx of white supremacist activity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.[7] Because of this, it has been described by a number of sources as the most racist town in America.[8][9][10][11][12]


Courthouse Square, located in the National Historic District

Native Americans were the earliest inhabitants of the area, probably beginning with cliff dwellers who lived in caves in the bluffs along the rivers. In later times, the Osage, a branch of the Sioux, was the main tribe in the Ozarks, and one of their larger villages is thought to have been to the east of the present site of Harrison. The Shawnee, Quapaw, and Caddo people were also familiar to the area.

The Cherokee arrived around 1816 and did not get along with the Osage. This hostility erupted into a full-scale war in the Ozark Mountains. By the 1830s, both tribes were removed to Indian Territory.

It is possible that the first Europeans to visit the area were some forty followers of Hernando de Soto and that they camped at a Native village on the White River at the mouth of Bear Creek. It is more likely that the discoverers were French hunters or trappers who followed the course of the White River.[13]

19th centuryEdit

In early 1857, the Baker-Fancher wagon train assembled at Beller's Stand, south of Harrison. On September 11, 1857, approximately 120 members of this wagon train were murdered near Mountain Meadows, Utah Territory, by attacking local Mormon militia and members of the Paiute Indian tribe. In 1955, a monument to memorialize the victims of the massacre was placed on the Harrison town square.[14]

Boone County was organized in 1869, during Reconstruction after the Civil War. Harrison was platted and made the county seat. It is named after Marcus LaRue Harrison, a Union officer who surveyed and platted the town. The town of Harrison was incorporated on March 1, 1876.[15]

20th centuryEdit

In 1905 and 1909, white race riots occurred in Harrison which drove away black residents and established the community as one of hundreds of sundown towns in the South.[16][17]

The bank robber and convicted murderer Henry Starr was in Harrison on February 18, 1921, when Starr and three companions entered the People's State Bank and robbed it of $6,000.00. During the robbery, Starr was shot by the former president of the bank, William J. Myers. Starr was carried to the town jail, where he died the next morning.[18]

On May 7, 1961, heavy rain caused Crooked Creek, immediately south of the downtown business district, to flood the town square and much of the southwestern part of the city. Water levels inside buildings reached eight feet (2.5 m). Many small buildings and automobiles were swept away. According to the American Red Cross, four lives were lost, 80 percent of the town's business district was destroyed, and over 300 buildings were damaged or destroyed in losses exceeding $5.4 million.[19]

In the 1970s,[20] Thom Robb, a national leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, moved to the nearby town of Zinc.[20][21] In 1982, Kingdom Identity Ministries, an anti-gay Christian Identity outreach ministry identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was founded in Harrison.[22][23]

21st centuryEdit

Peace March in Harrison in 2017

Harrison's Community Task Force on Race Relations[7] was established in 2003 to "promote diversity and respond to racial-bias accusations against the city".[24] City officials have made efforts to counteract organized racist activity with educational forums and billboards promoting tolerance.[20] They also attempted to downplay the city's racist reputation and improve its image by editing this article.[24] In 2014, a peace march and vigil celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was held in downtown Harrison, hosted by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.[25][26] In December of the same year, a dedication was held for a Confederate monument in Harrison.[27]

In 2017, Mayor Dan Sherrell and Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway signed proclamations recognizing June as Confederate Heritage and History Month.[28]

Kevin Cheri, who became the first African-American employed in the area in 1978 received death threats at the time, causing him to leave the area. He returned in 2007, and in 2019 was recognized by mayor Jerry Jackson when Harrison issued its first-ever Black History Month proclamation.[29]

In June 2020, a group of around 300 gathered in Harrison to protest police brutality in the murder of George Floyd while 15 people armed with assault rifles and displaying Confederate and American flags looked on.[30] In July 2020, activist Rob Bliss staged a one-man protest in an attempt to start conversations with Harrison residents about the Black Lives Matter movement, using a White Pride billboard as a backdrop. The protest drew an overwhelmingly negative reaction until a Walmart manager forced Bliss to leave.[12][31][32]


U.S. Routes 62, 65, and 412 pass through Harrison. U.S. 65 leads north 33 miles (53 km) to Branson, Missouri, and south 108 miles (174 km) to Conway, Arkansas. U.S. 62 leads west 43 miles (69 km) to Eureka Springs and beyond to Rogers and Bentonville. U.S. 412 leads west 73 miles (117 km) to Springdale. U.S. 62 and 412 combined lead east 48 miles (77 km) to Mountain Home.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.1 square miles (28.8 km2), of which 11.1 square miles (28.7 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.26%, is water.[6]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Harrison has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[33]

Climate data for Boone County Airport, Arkansas (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1892–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Mean maximum °F (°C) 68.3
Average high °F (°C) 46.5
Average low °F (°C) 26.3
Mean minimum °F (°C) 7.8
Record low °F (°C) −18
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.56
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.6 7.7 10.3 9.6 12.6 11.2 10.4 8.3 10.5 10.4 8.6 7.9 116.1
Source: NOAA[34][35]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)13,080[3]1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[36]

As of the census[37] of 2010, there were 12,943 people and 6,043 housing units in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 96.2% White, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, and 1.6% from two or more races. 2.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

23.2% of the population was under the age of 18, and 19.0% were 65 years of age or older. Females made up 53.1% of the population, and males made up 46.9% of the population.

The median income for the period 2007–11 for a household in the city was $33,244, and the number of people living below the poverty level was 15.1%. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $108,700.[38]


Harrison is home of the general office of FedEx Freight, a leading Less-Than-Load (LTL) freight carrier. Arkansas Freightways, later renamed to American Freightways, was combined with Viking Freight to become FedEx Freight in February 2001.[39]

Walmart store #2 opened in 1965.

Claridge Products and Equipment, Inc., is one of the largest Visual Display Board manufacturers in the world. It has been in business for over 60 years. It is a family-owned business and has been certified as a business owned and controlled by a woman from the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC).[40]

Major employersEdit

  • FedEx Freight Inc. (Trucking and distribution)
  • North Arkansas Regional Medical Center (Medical services)
  • Walmart Inc. (Retail)
  • Pace Industries (Aluminum die-casting)
  • Claridge Products and Equipment, Inc. (Markerboards, chalkboards and bulletin boards)
  • Windstream (Telecommunications)
  • Wabash Wood Products (Trailer floor manufacturing)
  • North Arkansas College (Education)
  • Flexsteel Industries Inc. (Furniture)
  • WestRock, formerly RockTenn Company (Folding Paperboard Cartons)[41]


Lake Harrison Park and downtown Harrison viewed from a hot air balloon during the Balloon Festival

The Boone County Courthouse, built in 1909, and the Boone County Jail, built in 1914, were both designed by architect Charles L. Thompson and are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[42]

Arts and cultureEdit

Annual cultural eventsEdit

Hot air balloons from across the United States attend this annual two-day event
Crawdad Days (2008) at Crooked Creek, an annual festival

Harrison hosts the annual Arkansas Hot Air Balloon races each September, Crawdad Days Music Festival each May, a Harvest Homecoming festival each October, and Christmas celebration in December.

Museums and other points of interestEdit

Spanish Revival (Mission) styled historic hotel (opened in 1929) in downtown Harrison, Arkansas .

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has recognized the Harrison Courthouse Square Historic District. It contains a large number of the city's original commercial and governmental structures, including the still-used courthouse in the center of the square, the recently refurbished Lyric Theater, and the 1929 Hotel Seville, which underwent a complete restoration in 2008. Located just south of Harrison off Scenic Highway 7, Fenton's Berry Farm provides the area with locally grown fruits and vegetables in season.

The Lyric Theatre in downtown Harrison hosts plays, concerts and films.

Ozark Arts CouncilEdit

The Ozarks Arts Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1996 with the mission "To enrich lives by promoting the arts in Harrison and North Arkansas through exhibitions, performances, and education."[43] It provides administrative support and distributes financial and in-kind donations to its member organizations:

  • The Theatre Company
  • Northark Drama
  • Twentieth Century Club
  • Woman's Book Club
  • Ozark Children's Choir

The historic Lyric Theatre is managed by the Ozark Arts Council. Originally opened as a movie theater in 1929, it is now used for plays, community events, old movies and other gatherings.[44]

Parks and recreationEdit

Harrison serves as the National Park Service's Buffalo National River headquarters. The park was established in the 1970s, and was the nation's first national river.[45] The river flows for 135 miles (217 km), and there are over 59 different species of fish in it.

Anstaff Bank Soccer Complex
Equity Bank Sports Complex
Brandon Burlsworth Youth Center hosts basketball and volleyball for youth and high school teams.

Crooked Creek, a nationally recognized "Blue Ribbon" smallmouth bass fishery, flows through Harrison.[46]

Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls, at 209 feet (64 m) the tallest waterfall between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians, is located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Harrison near Compton.[47] On the same bluff line is Diamond Falls, at 148 feet (45 m) the second tallest in the state.[48]


Northark College

Residents are served by the Harrison School District. The Harrison High School mascot is the Golden Goblin. Harrison is also home to North Arkansas College (Northark). The Harrison School District had been a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1936 until its dissolution in 2014. It is now a member of the AdvancED commission.



Harrison and Boone County have been served by the local newspaper The Harrison Daily Times[49] since 1876.[50]


Radio stations broadcasting from Harrison[51] include:

  • KBPB 91.9 FM (Religious)
  • KCWD 96.1 FM (Classic Rock)
  • KHBZ 102.9 FM (Country)
  • KHOZ 900 AM (Nostalgia)
  • KHOZ 94.9 FM (Nostalgia)
  • KBHQ 100.7 FM (Classic Rock)


Harrison has two stations of its own, including KTKO-LP and K26GS-D (both in Harrison proper). Harrison KTKO-TV 8.1, also known as TKO 8, provides coverage for local events including Goblin Sports, Harrison City Council meetings, and Boone County Quorum Court meetings.[52] It is an affiliate of the Me-TV Network showing a wide range of classic television programming.[53] K26GS is a This TV affiliate and also provides local programming to Harrison. KWBM, a Daystar affiliate, is also licensed to Harrison, however its offices are in Springfield, while its transmitter is located in Taney County, Missouri. KWBM leases part of its signal to Springfield Fox affiliate KRBK, in order to relay reliable Fox TV coverage to Harrison and the southern portions of the Springfield TV market.

Harrison is part of the Springfield, Missouri, television market, and receives stations from Springfield, including: KYTV (NBC), KOLR (CBS), KSPR (ABC), KOZL (MyNetworkTV), and KRBK (Fox).

It was also featured in a BBC TV show in the UK named Miriam's Big American Adventure, hosted by Miriam Margolyes.



Harrison was the headquarters of the defunct Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad, which provided passenger and freight service from Joplin, Missouri, to Helena in Phillips County in eastern Arkansas, from 1906 until its disestablishment in 1946.[54] A segment of the route between Seligman, MO and Harrison, AR was operated as the Arkansas & Ozarks Railroad from 1948 to 1960.[55]

Harrison is served by Boone County Regional Airport. Scheduled flights from Harrison to Memphis, Tennessee, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, are offered by Southern Airways Express.

Highways in the area include:

Health careEdit

North Arkansas Regional Medical Center

The recently renovated North Arkansas Regional Medical Center is in Harrison.[56]

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  1. ^ "City of Harrison Arkansas". City of Harrison Arkansas. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "History and Facts of Harrison - City of Harrison, Arkansas". Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Harrison city, Arkansas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Tale Of Two Billboards: An Ozark Town's Struggle To Unseat Hate". NPR. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Bucktin, Christopher (November 24, 2016). "The most racist town in US where "diversity is a code word for white genocide"". mirror. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  9. ^ Brantley, Max (November 25, 2016). "Most racist town in America". Arkansas Times. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Rowles, Dustin (January 2, 2015). "Harrison, Arkansas Continues To Be One Of The Most Racist Towns In America". UPROXX. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Chojar, Faith (April 17, 2019). "The Most Racist Town in America?". Papers, Posters, and Recordings.
  12. ^ a b "Man holding Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison faces racist language". thv11.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2020. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "Native Americans of Carroll County, AR - Arkansas Guide to Eureka Springs, Berryville, Green Forest, and more!". Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  14. ^ Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mountain Meadows Massacre.com, retrieved January 16, 2011
  15. ^ Harrison, AR, citydata.com, retrieved January 16, 2011
  16. ^ Lancaster, Guy (August 13, 2014). "Harrison Race Riots of 1905 and 1909". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Central Arkansas Library System.
  17. ^ Loewen, James (2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: The New Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN 9781595586742.
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  29. ^ Sinett, Caitlin (February 16, 2019). "Harrison Mayor Signs Black History Month Proclamation". KNWA. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
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  39. ^ "History - About FedEx". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit