Historic downtown Harrison
"Adventure Awaits You"
Location of Harrison in Boone County, Arkansas.
|Incorporated||March 1, 1876|
|• Mayor||Jerry Jackson|
|• Total||11.23 sq mi (29.09 km2)|
|• Land||11.20 sq mi (29.01 km2)|
|• Water||0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)|
|Elevation||1,050 ft (320 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,167.65/sq mi (450.82/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0077134|
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. According to 2019 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 13,080, 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. Harrison is the principal city of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boone and Newton counties.
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. Because of this, it has been described by a number of sources as the most racist town in America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the 1970s, Thom Robb, a national leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, moved to the nearby town of Zinc. 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.
Harrison's Community Task Force on Race Relations was established in 2003 to "promote diversity and respond to racial-bias accusations against the city". City officials have made efforts to counteract organized racist activity with educational forums and billboards promoting tolerance. They also attempted to downplay the city's racist reputation and improve its image by editing the city's Wikipedia article. 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. In December of the same year, a dedication was held for a Confederate monument in Harrison.
In 2017, Mayor Dan Sherrell and Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway signed proclamations recognizing June as Confederate Heritage and History Month.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
|Climate data for Boone County Airport, Arkansas (1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1892–present)|
|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|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census 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.
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.
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).
- 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)
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.
Arts and culture
Annual cultural events
Museums and other points of interest
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.
Ozark Arts Council
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." 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
Parks and recreation
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. The river flows for 135 miles (217 km), and there are over 59 different species of fish in it.
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. On the same bluff line is Diamond Falls, at 148 feet (45 m) the second tallest in the state.
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.
Radio stations broadcasting from Harrison include:
- KBPB 91.9 FM (Religious)
- KCWD 96.1 FM (Classic Rock)
- KHOZ 102.9 FM (Country)
- KHOZ 900 AM (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. It is an affiliate of the Me-TV Network showing a wide range of classic television programming. 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).
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. A segment of the route between Seligman, MO and Harrison, AR was operated as the Arkansas & Ozarks Railroad from 1948 to 1960.
Highways in the area include:
- US 62/US 412
- U.S. Highway 65
- U.S. Route 65 Business
- Arkansas Highway 7
- Arkansas Highway 43
- Arkansas Highway 123
- Arkansas Highway 392
- Arkansas Highway 397
- Airport Highway 980
The recently renovated North Arkansas Regional Medical Center is in Harrison.
- Brandon Burlsworth, All-American offensive lineman, played for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the late 1990s; Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft, but was killed in a car accident eleven days later; born in Harrison; 1994 graduate of Harrison High School.
- John Burris, politician 
- Faye Della Wilson Copeland, born in Harrison, along with her husband Ray became the oldest couple sentenced to death in the US
- Courtney Hudson Goodson, Arkansas Supreme Court justice, was born in Harrison
- John Paul Hammerschmidt, U.S. representative, 1967-1993; author of the law preserving the Buffalo National River as a free-flowing stream and adding it to the National Park System in 1972.
- Ben C. Henley, lawyer, businessman, and chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party from 1955 to 1962, U.S. Senate candidate in 1956, lived in Harrison.
- J. Smith Henley, federal judge, retired to senior status in Harrison; the federal building in Harrison is named in his honor.
- Elgin Bryce Holt, geologist
- Uvalde Lindsey, politician
- H. Dale Jackson, ethicist
- Brian McComas, country-western singer, originally from Harrison.
- Bryce Molder, professional golfer, was born in Harrison
- Gracie Pfost, first woman elected to Congress from Idaho, was born in Harrison.
- Thomas Robb, racist, Ku Klux Klan leader
- Charles Robinson, Arkansas State Treasurer; native of Harrison
- Vance Trimble, Pulitzer prize winning journalist
- Robert Wadley, politician
- William Wirt Watkins, politician
- John A. White, President of the University of Arkansas
- Jack Williams, Medal of Honor recipient
- 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.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harrison, Arkansas.|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia article about Harrison, Arkansas.|