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The History of Plainview

"Before Plainview was a Town" written by Mildred Manning Watson.

This letter has not been edited. It is the original writing of Ms. Watson

Plainview Depot.jpg

My family moved from Abbott, Ark. July 24th 1908. My father George Manning. My mother Ella Manning. My brother Graves Manning 5 years old. My uncle Frank Graves 14 years old. My mother's brother. Myself Mildred Manning 3 years old. Uncle Frank just lived 3 months.

It was just a farming community with fields of cotton, corn and other crops, with farm houses all around. Two men owned and farmed the land where the town of Plainview stands. Joe Thomas on the North and Andy Lawson on the South. Other farms around, owned by others. The people got their mail at Old Balloon. The Post Office was established the 29th of April 1879. Mrs. Martha R. James post-master. I have all the Post Master's names at balloon and Plainview up to now.

Balloon had a large store and a smaller store where the Post Office was located. There was a large gin and a grist mill where people ground their corn into meal and wheat into flour. Balloon was across Carter Creek going toward Salem. Dwelling houses all around. Dr. Albright lived there.

The school was at Salem, across from the cemetery. A two room house - one large room and a smaller room. The children from miles around went there. Salem Methodist Church was on the east side of the road and the Baptist Church on the west side of the road.

Things I have been told and things I remember about our town. Mr. Cheetle Law told me about the early history as he was one of the first to settle here and saw it grow. One day as he told me things I took notes. A man, Will W. Gardner, named and started Plainview by moving a mill from Birta, Ark. where he ran out of timber. He built a store and a large two story white dwelling house, where Mrs. Floy Barton's house stands. The store where Peck Sloan's Filling Station now stands.

Mr. Cheetle Law said Mr. Gardner and others were up on the hill east of town, and looked out over Fourche Valley and said it's a plain view (Plainview). Mr. Will Gardner's son, Robert N. Gardner, lives in Baltimore, Maryland. He said Mr. Will West wanted to name our town "Gardner" but Mr. Gardner didn't want it named after him. The Ft. Smith Lumber Company, Abbott, Ark., bought Mr. Gardner's store and mill and moved their planer mill from Abbott, Ark. They were moving in 1907 and 1908. George Manning was foreman and shipping clerk. He held two jobs.

Mr. Gardner wanted to locate his mill in Ola, Ark. Also the Ft. Smith Lumber Co. wanted to locate in Ola, but the Harkey Brothers wouldn't sell them the land they wanted near the Rock Island Railroad. Mr. Robert Gardner said Mr. Will West paid to have the railroad run from Ola to Plainview on through the Junction across Fourche River over into the mountains to the Log Camp. People were living over there - men cutting logs for the mill. The camp had a store, a boarding house, dwelling houses and I suppose they had a school. The railroad was called the Central Railway of Arkansas.

A Mr. Bates surveyed our town in 1907. The first lots sold -- was in the fall of 1907. First lot was the Will Clement lot to John Eubanks for $10.00 (the place where Osbern Harkey lives). The second was bought by Professor Potts for $15.00 (the Effie Bogges place). Professor Potts was to be on of the teachers in first school year.

Churches: Methodist, Baptist, Christian, Catholic and Holiness. Ministers: Rev. Bumpers, Methodist; Rev. Owens, Baptist; and Rev. Geeb Woodard, Holiness. The first Methodist revival was held under a brush arbor with Rev. Nathan Fair doing the preaching and a lady leading the singing (where the Gym now stands).

Doctors: Dr. Albright, Dr. Ballenger, Dr. Linzey, Dr. Green, Dr. Fleming and Dr. Evans (dentist). First newspaper: The Fourche Valley Herald. Editors: Paul J. McCall, J.B. Law, George Floyd, Kirkpatrick and Gen. Williams. Located where the Building Supply Store is standing. The first school was taught in the summer of 1908 by Miss Pearl Crownover (later married Cheetle Law). She even taught Latin to the Salter girls. The school was a subscription school. The pupils paid so much a month -- beginning at $1.50 and going on up according to the grades. The first school was a two story white frame building with 8 rooms. The first full term of school was taught by Professor Potts, a Mr. Dacus and Miss Pearl Crownover. Other teachers later Professor Haugh and Mrs. Haugh. The first months up to 1st of Jan. they charged tuition $1.50 1st through 3rd -- fourth through the 6th $2.00 -- 7th & 8th $2.50 -- High School $3.00. Beginning Jan. 1st the rest of the term was free. The ones living outside the district paid the full term. Miss Lola Hogan from Ola was our music teacher. Mrs. Calhouse was our elocution teacher (later called expression, now speech). She lived up on [illegible] ... lived near the 16 room house and big red barn. I have a picture of the Plainview Bank before it was finished. The windows hadn't been put in. The same bank we are using now. The stockholders, directors and cashier were standing in front: Bob Caviness, W.E. Ballenger, W.W. Gardner, C.R. Law, J.B. Law, W.H. Norman, John Gillium, Bob Compton, W.B. Clement, W.T. Pugh, W.T.W. Brooke, N.M. Tidwell. Cheetle Law was first cashier. Betch Williams was next. The bank did banking business from back of the Fort Smith Store in an office until the bank was finished.

First blacksmith shop was owned by Austin Martin. He also owned the Bill Henry Norman house (where Nanny Norman now lives), the house later was brought by Cheetle Law. The first livery stable was owned by Cheetle Law and Lee Stewart.

Our Railroad was called the Central Railway of Arkansas. It ran from Ola to Plainview through the Junction on to the Log Camp on Fourche LaFave Mountain. The Depot stood where Dr. Bull's clinic is located (now Dr. Westwood's clinic). The Depot was painted red. Mr. W.W. Aldrich was Depot Agent. [illegible] ...on the train, and Mr. Dinsmore was helper. George and Oscar Storment, Tom Henry and others worked on the train. Mr. Omer Jett drove the dray and delivered freight. He had two big horses and a big flatbed wagon. The train was running the fall of 1907 because the day lots were sold, you could ride the train to Ola and back for 25 cents. A man was killed when he jumped off a runaway train (Mr. Tedder).

The Ft. Smith housing: I remember two rows of 12 gray, 2 room houses -- 6 in a row; 12 yellow, 3 room houses and a lot of 4 room bungalow type houses, painted white. The company office (where Glen Marks lives). The Managers: Uncle Dick Elliott and C.W. Jones. Mr. WillWest bookkeeper and Grady Timberlake timekeeper. Worked there later -- Steve Tillman. The company house (where the Buckman house stood). Mr. Elliott and Mr. Jones lived there. Mrs. Ann McGlothan kept house and cooked for them. Mrs. McGlothan had a son Ed and she was Mrs. Will West's mother. Dad and Granny Rhoades had a boarding house.

The Ft. Smith Lumber Company had a boarding house. A Mrs. Leggett ran it (later it burned). The company had a big barn where they kept their mules. The mules hauled lumber from the green chain at the saw mill out to the lumber yard where it was stacked. Taxi service: Bill Wright, Tom Wright and later Francis Breashears.

Business places: The Ft. Smith Lumber Company Store (where Peck Sloan's Filling Station stands). Jim Parker's Shoe Shop. Sid Crownover's store. Lawyer Bullock -- he held trials in his office. Bob McKeever's Barber Shop. Holland's Produce. Ben Smith's Store. Anderson's Millinery. W.H. Norman's Store. Compton & Caviness -- next it was Clement & Blount. The Lewis Store ... Lodi Rogers' Hotel. You could get a bed for 25 cents and chili served all day. Lodi Rodgers' Meat Market. Ernest Rodgers was in charge of the Ice House. Lodie Rodgers was also Town Marshal. Compton Theater -- later Jester Theater. Sometimes we had our school programs there. Kolb & Son Blacksmith (where the Freewill Baptist Church stands). Bert Willard's Store. Ford's Bakery Shop. Paggett's Picture Studio. Morgan's Hardware. Ross' Druge Store. Company Hotel (Mrs. Legget ran it). Eugene Shelton foreman at the saw mill. George Manning, foreman and shipping clerk at the Planer Mill (he had two jobs). The Saw Mill and Planer Mill was a one million dollar industry - which was a lot of money they. But it kept Plainview growing. Plainview Bank. Farmers Bank. Farmers Union Store. Hume Sloan and Haggen Shive, cashiers of Farmers Bank. J.L. Booher was manager of Farmers Union Store. The first Post Office moved to Plainview from Old Balloon on June 25th 1907. Postmaster John D. Green (he was Oscar Green's father). Then William H. Norman, Sept. 12th 1910. Charles E. Long, May 15th 1912. Oscar L. Green, Mrach 7th 1914 (he is first one that I remember). Then I have all the names of the others up to this time. R.B. Hill Restaurant. Hoskins & Compton Pressing Shop. John R. Gladden Jeweler. U.R. Next Barber Shop (Hunnicutt, Mgr.). William Call Music Teacher. Neely & Thomas Store. C.S. Choate Store. Mrs. Lokey's Boarding House. Russell Store, Fair Store. Mrs. Eb Rodgers Rooming House. Mrs. Hubb's Hotel (where Bill Yates Garage is located). Other business: Pete Miller's Garage. Vandover's Hardward. Holiman Drug Store. Opan N. Harkey. Lyric Theater. W.M. Call, Mrgr. S.M. Brisco. The Honest Land Man. Ellison Drug Store.

A two story brick school (ten rooms) (1917). Two cotton Gins, Compton Pierce Oil Agency. Two Sale Barns and a wagon yard where people could camp over night when they were on their way to Dardanelle or Russellville from up the Valley with cotton to sell. Cheetle Law had two stores at different times, and much later Strickland Drug Store. I almost forgot to tell you about the first car I saw; I was 4 yeras old. It was owned by Mr. Paggett, a red car. The next car was owned by Mr. Eb Rodgers, a black car. We just had dirt roads then – when it rained the mud was deep.

Mildred Manning Watson

P.S. Drilling for oil in Plainview 1921 and 1922 (no oil-just artesian water).

The Town of Plainview AR


Old Frontier Town

The Frontier Town of Plainview, AR

The old Frontier Town of Plainview, AR, looks like you just stepped back into the old west time. This rustic little town was built to look like an early 1900's frontier town. It is managed by the City of Plainview and kept in tip-top shape by the Beautification Committee, which opens the town to many different community events throughout the year.  The Plainview Events Committee has now joined up to support the Beautification Committee to bring more family fun activities to this quaint little town. Be sure to stop and visit this beautiful piece of history as you are passing through Plainview and check out the events page frequently as you may just be passing through during one of our old town events.


Lake Nimrod

Fish, hunt, camp, and enjoy nature's beauty!

At 3,550 acres, Lake Nimrod is the oldest lake in the state of Arkansas and was created by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It was formed after the Fourche LaFave River Dam was completed in 1942. The Ouachita National Forest is adjacent to the lake's south side and the State Scenic 7 Byway passes through on the Lake’s east side. Anglers know Lake Nimrod best for its "slab" crappie fishing. Other fish in the lake include largemouth bass, white bass, bream, and catfish, but as most people will tell you, “crappie fishing on Lake Nimrod is best in the world.” The Wildlife Management Area (WMA) surrounds Lake Nimrod offering in-season big-game and turkey hunting all around, except in or near the Lake Nimrod recreation areas. There are 136 campsites, along with playgrounds, swimming areas, fish cleaning stations, picnic shelters, and other recreational facilities all managed by the Corps of Engineers as recreation on Lake Nimrod.

Wards Crossing Bridge

Ward's Crossing Bridge
Ward's Crossing Bridge Full View
Ward's Crossing Approach
Ward's Crossing Overview
Ward's Crossing: View from below

Ward’s Crossing Bridge, well known in these parts as the old iron bridge, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places  in 2008. It is a one-lane bridge, spanning 14’ wide, 12’ tall, and 240’ long. 

It was built in 1905 by the Converse Bridge Company of Chattanooga, TN, which was in operation from 1890 until the depression.

The bridge is a pin-connected, 9-panel Camelback Pratt Through-Truss design over the Fourche LaFave located on River Road/Sunlight Bay Road southwest of Plainview, AR.

This bridge is the only Camelback Truss bridge in the county, and one of only three known in the state.


Resources: for facts and photos. Credit provided for each photo.

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