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|City of Ashdown|
Ashdown Courthouse at night during Christmas season
|• Total||7.1 sq mi (18.5 km2)|
|• Land||7.1 sq mi (18.4 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0.1 km2)|
|Elevation||322 ft (98 m)|
|• Density||673.4/sq mi (258.4/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0076204|
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (19 km2).7.1 square miles (18.4 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.56%) is water. Millwood Lake is located seven miles east of the town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,781 people, 1,880 households, and 1,287 families residing in the city. The population density was 672.3 people per square mile (259.6/km²). There were 2,103 housing units at an average density of 295.7 per square mile (114.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.85% White, 34.09% Black or African American, 1.05% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 0.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,880 households out of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.9% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.5% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,754, and the median income for a family was $34,850. Males had a median income of $33,668 versus $18,073 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,293. About 15.5% of families and 18.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.6% of those under age 18 and 25.1% of those age 65 or over.
The town lies among rich, fertile land, ideal for growing cotton, soybeans, rice, corn, wheat, and other crops. However, its greatest industry is timber, and it houses the largest paper producing facility in the world. Now owned by Domtar, the factory is still the largest of its kind. It is the largest employer in the town, providing 2/3 of the jobs for its citizens.
A new courthouse was built in Ashdown in 1907. Through the years, this courthouse has undergone many renovations and restorations. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. During the Christmas season, the courthouse is covered with thousands of lights—nearly 5 miles of wiring—and can be seen from miles away. Visitors come from all over the tri-state area to watch the official courthouse lighting on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.
Early twentieth century
Around 1912, after the railroads came to Ashdown, citizens had electricity, telephone service, and natural gas services for their homes. In its formative years, Ashdown had its share of floods (especially the Flood of 1927), fires, tornadoes, and even bank robberies. The small market town included saloons, sawmills, cotton gins, general mercantile stores, feed stores, and various grocery stores. In Ashdown’s early years, the streets were unpaved, and many sidewalks were made of wood. The old Index Bridge was built over the Red River in 1919, allowing easy highway access to Texarkana, 20 miles to the south. The narrow steel drawbridge was finally replaced in 1980.
During the Great Depression, wages decreased and unemployment increased. Many farmers were forced to sell their property during the 1930s, yet land could be bought very cheaply, which allowed for population growth.
World War II through the Modern Era
Ashdown is located between two rivers—the Little River, north of Wilton (Little River County), and the Red River, south of Ashdown. Because of its location, Ashdown was a good place for industry, and by 1950, manufacturing plants began to change the economy. Much earlier in Ashdown’s development, there had been a Coca-Cola bottling plant, an ice plant, a pallet plant, a garment plant, a box factory, and many other small businesses that no longer exist.
The development of Millwood Lake in 1966 was a major boost to Ashdown’s industrial growth. Nekoosa Paper Mill was built in Ashdown in 1968, primarily because of Ashdown’s accessibility to two rivers and Millwood Lake. The mill was sold to Georgia-Pacific Industries in 1991 and sold again to Domtar Industries in 2001. Presently, Ashdown is known for its timber industry, and Domtar Industries is a major employer there.
After the paper mill came to Ashdown, many citizens began to prosper. The town began numerous building projects, including medical facilities. In 1958, the present Little River Memorial Hospital was built, and in 2011 a new nursing facility, Little River Nursing and Rehab, was built. Ashdown now has two nursing homes, one retirement lodge, a senior citizen center, and a library. Construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter is now complete which replaced a small Wal-Mart store. Ashdown also has Little River Millworks, a wood moulding manufacture/distributor, and a chemical plant. The town has new police, ambulance, and fire stations.
Ashdown has many churches and civic organizations, one of which is a very strong historical society, the Little River County Historical Society.
April 18, 2007, marked 100 years from the day the Little River Courthouse was built in 1907. The citizens of Ashdown, as well as those throughout Little River County, came together on the courthouse grounds to celebrate, with Governor Mike Beebe as the guest speaker.
Ashdown has two museums: the Two Rivers Museum and the Hunter/Coulter Museum. Many tourists enjoy Millwood Lake and Millwood State Park, known for their trophy fishing contests, camping sites, and sports facilities, such as a country club, golf course, and swimming pool. Nearby Beard's Bluff offers camping, hiking, fishing and boating, though the swimming beach was closed for flooding in 2009Ne.
The first school building for white children was built in 1903, though classes had been meeting since 1891 in a building owned by Alex Bishop. In 1914, the existing school building was moved from Burke Street to Park Avenue to provide space for a new brick school building, built in 1915 by Henry Westbrook. It was torn down in 1964 to erect the present L. F. Henderson Intermediate School on Burke Street. In 1954, a new brick high school was built. It has now been replaced by a modern seven-million-dollar facility constructed around the Rankin Street School.
The first school for black children was built in 1899. Eventually, the Rosenwald School was built. In the 1940s, the Ashdown School District consolidated the Rosenwald School, and it became part of Ashdown School District 31. The Rosenwald School became the Little River Training School, and N. M. Brown became its new principal, serving for thirty-eight years. After the building burned, the Ashdown School District rebuilt the school and called it N. M. Brown Elementary School. This school burned in 1979, and the district built another school on the east end of Ashdown and called it Ashdown Junior High School. After the integration of black and white students, all high school students attended the high school on Rankin Street.
In spring 2007 the Rankin Street school closed to make way for a state-of-the-art facility located on the same campus but facing Locust Street. The 2007-08 school year began in the new location. With this 8 million dollar expansion, freshmen were brought over from the junior high school to join the Ashdown High School student body.
Ashdown has one newspaper, the Little River News, which has been in business since 1898. The paper's office is located at 48 East Commerce Street in downtown Ashdown. The Little River News, a member of the Arkansas Press Association, is published weekly on Wednesday. The paper has had several owners over the years and is currently part of Red River Media, Inc., based in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The publisher and editor of the Little River News is Robert L. Palmer. The general manager is Quinton Bagley.