Camden, Arkansas

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Camden, Arkansas
Downtown Camden
Downtown Camden
Official seal of Camden, Arkansas
Location in Ouachita County and the state of Arkansas
Location in Ouachita County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 33°34′15″N 92°50′6″W / 33.57083°N 92.83500°W / 33.57083; -92.83500Coordinates: 33°34′15″N 92°50′6″W / 33.57083°N 92.83500°W / 33.57083; -92.83500
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Ouachita
 • Mayor Marie Trisollini
 • Total 16.6 sq mi (42.8 km2)
 • Land 16.5 sq mi (42.6 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 203 ft (62 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,183
 • Density 792.4/sq mi (307.3/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 71701, 71711
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-10720
GNIS feature ID 0076505
Camden Municipal Building
The Richie-Crawford House at 330 Clifton Street in Camden
The Camden Public Library. This building has burned, and a temporary site has been established in Garden Oaks Shopping Center.
The large First Baptist Church of Camden is located at 348 West Washington Street across from the Federal Building (pastor Richard D. Piles, 2012).
First United Methodist Church is located downtown at 121 Harrison Avenue across from the Ouachita County Courthouse in Camden.
Side view of First Presbyterian Church in Camden (pastor Erin Kay, 2012)
Umsted House Bed and Breakfast is located across California Avenue from the First Baptist Church.

Camden is a city in and the county seat of Ouachita County in the southern part of the U.S. state of Arkansas. Long an area of Native-American villages, the French also made a permanent settlement here because of its advantageous location above the Ouachita River.[1]

In 2000, Camden had a population of 13,154, but it lost 7.4 percent of its residents and recorded 12,183 in 2010. The municipality in 2010 was 56 percent African American.[2] Camden is the principal city of the Camden Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Ouachita and Calhoun counties.


Indigenous peoples of various cultures had lived along the rivers of Arkansas for thousands of years and created complex societies. Mississippian culture peoples built massive earthwork mounds along the Ouachita River beginning about 1000 AD.

In 1783, this area was part of New France. A French trader named Fabre settled on a bluff above the Ouachita River and called the settlement Écore Fabre (Faber's Bluff). This was the first European permanent settlement of what would become Camden. He traded with the Ouachita and other American Indians who inhabited the area.

The city of Camden marks its founding as 1824, after the Louisiana Purchase brought a wave of migrants from the Southern United States. They developed farmlands as cotton plantations and transported thousands of enslaved African Americans into the area for labor. The city was not incorporated and officially named “Camden” until 1844. Some controversy exists over the origin of the name, but most agree it is named for Camden, Alabama, the hometown of General Thomas Woodward, another early city founder. Prior to the name change from Écore Fabre to Camden, the location was simply known as "The Bluff".

During the American Civil War, Camden was occupied for several months in 1864 by Union soldiers as part of the Union army's ill-fated Red River Campaign. The Confederates won the Battle of Poison Springs west of the city on April 18, 1864.

In pre-Civil War days, Camden was a bustling river port served by frequent scheduled steamboats carrying passengers and freight. Most traveled between Camden and New Orleans, but some passengers also went upriver to St. Louis, Missouri. Camden was a mercantile center at the headwaters of the Ouachita River. The town remained an important cotton shipping depot through the early decades of the twentieth century, although agriculture suffered a decline. In the early 20th century, the spread of the boll weevil devastated many southern cotton crops and turned thousands of workers out of the fields.

Before the steamboat era faded, Camden had become a railroad town—served by the mainline of the Texas and St. Louis (Cotton Belt) and by branch lines of the Missouri Pacific and the Rock Island railroads. A major economic infusion accompanied the South Arkansas oil boom of the 1920s. In 1927 the International Paper Company built a processing mill at Camden, following development of south Arkansas' lumber industry.

For several decades, Camden was the headquarters of the Clyde E. Palmer newspaper chain, which included The Camden News, the Texarkana Gazette, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, and the Magnolia Banner News. Later the company shifted to Little Rock, when it acquired the Arkansas Democrat. It merged its acquired assets from the Arkansas Gazette to establish the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The daily newspaper in Camden is the original flagship publication of WEHCO Media.

Palmer's son-in-law, Walter E. Hussman, Sr. (1906–1988), and Palmer's grandson, Walter E. Hussman, Jr. (born 1947), were successive publishers of the Camden News and chief executive officers of the Palmer properties. Hussman, Jr., is the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, home of the Palmer-Hussman management.

Near the end of World War II, thousands of new jobs were created with the 1944 construction of a Naval Ammunition Depot across the Ouachita at Shumaker. The Korean War brought a resurgence of jobs and activity at the depot. It was closed following the Korean War. The city and county redeveloped its facilities and grounds into an extensive industrial area. This was the site of some major defense establishments and multiple smaller industries. A technical campus of Southern Arkansas University also located there.

In the 1990s, post Cold-War downsizing of the defense industry brought severe job losses—and resulting population decline—to the Camden area. This was followed by the closing of the International Paper Co. mill a few years later. But in recent years a partial resurgence of defense contracts and a diversified mixture of small business and professional activity have stabilized the town's economy. As one of Arkansas' most historic towns, the city attracts considerable heritage tourism.

Among the many historic homes in Camden is the Richie-Crawford House at 330 Clifton Street built in 1909 and featuring four Corinthian columns and a two-story porch. On March 2, 1957, the Camden attorney Maud Robinson Crawford (born 1891) disappeared from the house that she shared with her husband, Clyde Falwell Crawford (1894–1969). Her disappearance remains officially unsolved.[3]


Camden is located on the Ouachita River, at the end of the navigable river.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.5 square miles (43 km2), of which, 16.5 square miles (43 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.36%) is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Camden has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[4]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 894
1860 2,219 148.2%
1870 1,612 −27.4%
1880 1,503 −6.8%
1890 2,571 71.1%
1900 2,840 10.5%
1910 3,995 40.7%
1920 3,238 −18.9%
1930 7,273 124.6%
1940 8,975 23.4%
1950 11,372 26.7%
1960 15,823 39.1%
1970 15,147 −4.3%
1980 15,356 1.4%
1990 14,380 −6.4%
2000 13,154 −8.5%
2010 12,183 −7.4%
Est. 2014 11,569 −5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2014 Estimate[6]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 13,154 people, 5,421 households, and 3,561 families residing in the city. The population density was 799.4 people per square mile (308.7/km²). There were 6,259 housing units at an average density of 380.4 per square mile (146.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 48.88% Black or African American, 49.41% White, 0.37% Asian, 0.24% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.87% from two or more races. 0.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,421 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 82.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,814, and the median income for a family was $35,291. Males had a median income of $31,257 versus $19,046 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,599. About 18.5% of families and 22.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.0% of those under age 18 and 19.4% of those age 65 or over.


Public education for early childhood, elementary and secondary education is available from the following school districts:

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Population of the City of Camden, Arkansas". Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Riche-Crawford House". Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  4. ^ Climate Summary for Camden, Arkansas
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "Arkansas Governor George Washington Hays". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 

External links[edit]