Washington County, Arkansas

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Washington County
County of Washington
Historic Washington County Courthouse, Fayetteville
Official seal of Washington County
Map of Arkansas highlighting Washington County
Location within the U.S. state of Arkansas
Map of the United States highlighting Arkansas
Arkansas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°00′09″N 94°13′38″W / 36.0025°N 94.227222222222°W / 36.0025; -94.227222222222
Country United States
State Arkansas
FoundedOctober 17, 1828
Named forGeorge Washington
Largest cityFayetteville
 • Total952 sq mi (2,470 km2)
 • Land942 sq mi (2,440 km2)
 • Water10 sq mi (30 km2)  1.1%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density215/sq mi (83/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
72701, 72703, 72704, 72717, 72727, 72729, 72730, 72738, 72744, 72749, 72753, 72761, 72762, 72764, 72769, 72773, 72774, 72959
Area code479
Congressional district3rd

Washington County is a county located in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Arkansas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 203,065,[1] making it the third-most populous county in Arkansas. The county seat is Fayetteville.[2] It is Arkansas's 17th county, formed on October 17, 1828, and named for George Washington, the first President of the United States. Washington County is part of the Northwest Arkansas region.


The site of the Civil War battle at Prairie Grove is now a state park.

Washington County began as part of the Cherokee Territory, following an 1817 treaty. The area was next known as Lovely County, and one year later Washington County was created after another Cherokee treaty. The court house was centrally located in the city of Washington, modern-day Fayetteville (renamed to avoid confusion with Washington, Arkansas in South Arkansas). The Lee Creek Valley in southern Washington County contained many of the county's early settlements, including Cane Hill and Evansville.[3]

Arkansas College and Cane Hill College were both founded in Washington County within a day of each other in 1834, with the University of Arkansas being founded in Fayetteville in 1871. The county witnessed major battles during the American Civil War, including the Battle of Fayetteville, the Battle of Prairie Grove, and the Battle of Cane Hill. The county then was sparsely settled and the residents were divided in their allegiance, since slaves were few, plantations almost nonexistent, and political news came by White River travelers, not from the pro-Confederate southern part of the state.[4] A Butterfield Overland Mail route was established through the county in 1858, causing more families to settle there.[4]

The economy of Washington County was based on apples in the late 19th century. A mixture of wet weather, altitude, and loamy soils provided a good environment for apple orchards.[5] First planted in areas around Lincoln, Evansville, and Cane Hill in the 1830s, apple orchards began all across the county. The United States Census reported a crop of 614,924 bushels of apples produced by the county in 1900, the highest in the state. Several varieties of apple were discovered in the area including Shannon Pippin, Wilson June, and most notably the Arkansas Black.[6] The Ben Davis became the apple of choice in the area for sale and shipment across the region. Corn became the dominant crop, outselling apples by almost $500,000 in 1900.[7]

Arkansas Industrial University was founded in the growing community of Fayetteville in 1871 after William McIlroy a donated farmland for the site. The university changed its name in 1899 to the University of Arkansas.[8] Railroads came to Washington County after the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway (Frisco) decided to build a line to Texas through Fort Smith. Two possible routes were proposed, one passing through Prairie Grove, the other through Fayetteville. Many Fayetteville residents and farmers sold or donated land for the right of way to influence the choice. They were successful and in 1881 the first passenger train arrived at Fayetteville.[9] The county continued to grow with more churches and schools after the railroad's completion.[10] Rural parts of the county began losing population in the 1920s during the Great Depression, when high taxes forcing residents to move to Fayetteville or west to Oklahoma. The rural areas later became the Ozark National Forest and Devil's Den State Park.[10]


Cane Hill College was founded in Cane Hill one day after Arkansas College in Fayetteville. It was in operation from 1834 to 1891.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 952 square miles (2,470 km2), of which 942 square miles (2,440 km2) is land and 10 square miles (26 km2) (1.1%) is water.[11] It is the fourth-largest county by area in Arkansas. The county is in the Boston Mountains, a subdivision of the Ozark Mountains. Devil's Den State Park in southern Washington County is known for its picturesque views and mountain vistas.[12] Washington County also contains Lake Wedington, located in scenic country west of Fayetteville on Wedington Drive.


Washington County sits on a basement of Precambrian granite and rhyolite, as most of the continental interior of the United States does.[13] Much of the county's geologic history must be inferred from nearby Oklahoma and Missouri research, due to the steepness of the more recently formed mountains that did not form in the neighboring states. This igneous material was eroded until the Paleozoic, when oceans covered the now-low-lying area.[14] These oceans came and retreated for 300 million years, depositing various different sedements during that time. This created fossiliferous limestone and ripple marked-sandstone, both present throughout the north part of the county as evidence of ancient oceans.[14]

Sediments were deposited from the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian periods. During this deposition period, the county had a climate similar to that of the present-day Bahamas, as the equator was north of Washington County.[15] The Devonian brought mostly shales, the Mississippian brought the limestones and chert visible in the bluffs. This chert is present throughout most of the county. The county is also home to the Boone Formation (red soils), white limestones, the Wedington Sandstone, the Bastesville Sandstone, the Pitkin formation (ocean-fossil limestone), and the Fayetteville Shale.

Settlers were attracted to the area by its numerous streams, used to power gristmills, sandstones and clays for use in construction, lime-sweetened soil, and chert for road construction.[16]

Today, Washington County consists of two main formations, the Boston Mountains and the Springfield Plateau. During the late Pennsylvanian, sediments were deposited on top of the Springfield Plateau. The area was uplifted during the Ouachita orogeny and subsequent erosion formed the rugged Boston Mountains. Erosion of these sediments causes the Boston Mountains to be carved steeply in the south, while in the north of the county, the Boston Mountain sediments are almost entirely eroded, exposing the older rocks of the Springfield Plateau.

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2018236,961[17]16.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
1790–1960[19] 1900–1990[20]
1990–2000[21] 2010–2016[1]
Age pyramid Washington County.[22] The impact of the University of Arkansas in Washington County is readily apparent upon consideration of the 20-24 age range.

As of the 2000 United States Census,[23] there were 157,715 people, 60,151 households, and 39,459 families residing in the county. The population density was 166 people per square mile (64/km²). There were 64,330 housing units at an average density of 68 per square mile (26/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.00% White, 2.24% Black or African American, 1.25% Native American, 1.54% Asian, 0.53% Pacific Islander, 4.26% from other races, and 2.17% from two or more races. 8.20% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 60,151 households out of which 32.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.30% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.40% were non-families. 25.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 15.30% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 19.50% from 45 to 64, and 9.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,691, and the median income for a family was $42,795. Males had a median income of $29,428 versus $21,769 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,347. About 9.40% of families and 14.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.50% of those under age 18 and 10.20% of those age 65 or over.

As of the 2010 Census Washington County had a population of 203,065. The racial makeup of the county was 74.14% Non-Hispanic white, 2.96% black, 1.18% Native American, 2.17% Asian, 2.03% Pacific Islander, 0.11% non-Hispanics of some other race, 2.16% Non-Hispanics of two or more races and 15.49% Hispanic.


The county government is a constitutional body granted specific powers by the Constitution of Arkansas and the Arkansas Code. The quorum court is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all spending and revenue collection. Representatives are called justices of the peace and are elected from county districts every even-numbered year. The number of districts in a county vary from nine to fifteen, and district boundaries are drawn by the county election commission. The Washington County Quorum Court has fifteen members. Presiding over quorum court meetings is the county judge, who serves as the chief operating officer of the county. The county judge is elected at-large and does not vote in quorum court business, although capable of vetoing quorum court decisions.[24][25]


In Congress, Arkansas has been represented by two Republican senators (John Boozman and Tom Cotton) since January 3, 2015, ending a long history of Democratic hegemony. In the House of Representatives, Washington County is within the Arkansas 3rd district, an oddly shaped district that includes Northwest Arkansas and extends east to Russellville. The Arkansas 3rd has been represented by Republican Steve Womack since 2010.

Greg Leding, born and raised in Washington County, represents the only Senate district entirely within Washington County

In the Arkansas Senate, Washington County contains one Senate district, and parts of four others. The historically Democratic 4th District contains Fayetteville, and has been represented by Greg Leding (D) since 2019. The 2nd District, which includes western Benton and Washington counties, has been represented by Jim Hendren (R) since 2013. The 5th District, stretching from Missouri to Oklahoma, contains much of southern Washington County and has been represented by Bob Ballinger (R) since 2011. The 7th District, represented by Lance Eads (R) since 2017, contains much of Springdale and eastern Washington County. A very small portion of Washington County has been represented by Bart Hester (R) of the 1st District, which includes most of Bentonville and surrounding communities.[26]

Arkansas House Of Representatives[edit]

Washington County is divided between ten state house districts. [27]

Presidential elections results
Washington County, Arkansas
voteby party in presidential elections [28]
Year GOP DEM Others
2016 50.67% 41,476 40.76% 33,366 8.58% 7,019
2012 56.33% 39,688 40.07% 28,236 3.60% 2,536
2008 55.52% 37,963 42.44% 29,021 2.04% 1,396
2004 55.73% 35,726 43.05% 27,597 1.22% 780
2000 54.86% 28,231 41.64% 21,425 3.51% 1,803
1996 44.30% 19,476 46.44% 20,419 9.27% 4,072
1992 42.38% 20,292 46.01% 22,029 11.61% 5,559
1988 64.38% 23,601 34.25% 12,557 1.36% 500
1984 68.10% 24,993 30.84% 11,319 1.05% 386
1980 58.69% 20,788 34.66% 12,276 6.65% 2,357
1976 47.37% 14,132 52.32% 15,610 0.31% 92
1972 70.94% 17,523 28.78% 7,108 0.28% 70
1968 48.67% 10,640 28.04% 6,131 23.29% 5,092
1964 40.16% 6,856 59.55% 10,166 0.28% 48
1960 64.34% 10,088 34.38% 5,391 1.28% 200
1956 60.87% 7,683 38.48% 4,857 0.66% 83
1952 63.55% 8,650 36.17% 4,923 0.28% 38
1948 40.42% 2,859 49.38% 3,493 10.20% 722
1944 49.73% 3,084 49.81% 3,089 0.45% 28
1940 38.29% 1,819 60.48% 2,873 1.22% 58
1936 31.73% 1,579 67.87% 3,378 0.40% 20
1932 22.77% 1,502 75.36% 4,971 1.86% 123
1928 56.26% 3,132 43.02% 2,395 0.72% 40
1924 35.90% 1,466 55.87% 2,281 8.23% 336
1920 43.41% 2,118 54.05% 2,637 2.54% 124
1916 35.74% 1,625 64.26% 2,922 0.00% 0
1912 18.01% 565 59.96% 1,881 22.03% 691
1908 36.19% 1,704 58.36% 2,748 5.46% 257
1904 38.72% 1,369 55.94% 1,978 5.35% 189
1900 32.60% 1,347 64.33% 2,658 3.07% 127
1896 26.93% 1,197 72.17% 3,208 0.90% 40


Old Main on the University of Arkansas campus.

Unified school districts[edit]

There are nine school districts in the county.[29]

Colleges and universities[edit]

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville was founded in 1871 on the site of a hilltop farm that overlooked the Ozark Mountains, giving it the nickname "The Hill".[39] The University of Arkansas is in Fayetteville, in Washington County. Historically, Cane Hill College in Canehill was the first college in Arkansas, prior to the University of Arkansas's founding in 1871. Canehill probably influenced the placing the University of Arkansas within Washington County, since the history of education in the county was a major factor in the decision.




Unincorporated communities[edit]


Townships in Washington County, Arkansas as of 2010

Townships in Arkansas are the divisions of a county. Each township includes unincorporated areas and some may have incorporated towns or cities within part of their space. Townships have limited purposes in modern times. However, they are of value for historical purposes in terms of genealogical research. Each town or city is within one or more townships in an Arkansas county based on census maps. The townships of Washington County are listed below. In Washington County, each incorporated town/city is at least partially located within its namesake township.[40][41]


Major highways[edit]

Interstate 49 enters the Boston Mountains in south Washington County

Washington County has contained the Ozark Trail, Trail of Tears, and the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Today, Interstate 49 serves as the county's main thoroughfare, and connects the University of Arkansas with Fort Smith and Interstate 40 to the south and other NWA cities to the north. Future plans call for Interstate 49 to be extended to ultimately connect New Orleans, Louisiana with Kansas City, Missouri through Washington County.


The Arkansas Department of Health is responsible for the regulation and oversight of public water systems throughout the state. Washington County contains twelve community water systems, including two of the largest distribution systems in the state: the City of Fayetteville (retail population served of 94,000)[42] and Springdale Water Utilities (SWU, 87,618)[43] Both water systems purchase all potable water from Beaver Water District. Many of the smaller cities in Washington County purchase water from Fayetteville, SWU, Benton-Washington Regional Public Water Authority (PWA, colloquially "Two-Ton") or Washington Water Authority (WWA), including Elkins, Lincoln, Tontitown, West Fork, and Winslow.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ Keck, Wallace (1994). History & Self-Guiding Tour of the Upper Lee Creek Valley & Devil's Den State Park. Little Rock, AR: Arkansas State Parks. p. 6.
  4. ^ a b Keck, Wallace (1994). History & Self-Guiding Tour of the Upper Lee Creek Valley & Devil's Den State Park. Little Rock, AR: Arkansas State Parks. p. 7.
  5. ^ "Early Days in the Fruit Empire". Washington County History. Springdale, Arkansas: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. 1989. p. 232.
  6. ^ Washington County History. Springdale, Arkansas: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. 1989. p. 233.
  7. ^ "Apple Varieties". Washington County History. Springdale, Arkansas: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. 1989. p. 235.
  8. ^ Leflar, Robert (1972). First 100 Years: Centennial History of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Foundation, Inc. p. 67.
  9. ^ "The Railroad". Washington County History. Springdale, Arkansas: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. 1989. p. 237.
  10. ^ a b Keck, Wallace (1994). History & Self-Guiding Tour of the Upper Lee Creek Valley & Devil's Den State Park. Little Rock, AR: Arkansas State Parks. p. 8.
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  12. ^ "Devil's Den State Park - West Fork, Arkansas". Dale Cox. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  13. ^ Mathis (1989). Washington County History. Springdale, AR: Shiloh Museum. p. 9.
  14. ^ a b Mathis (1989). Washington County History. Springdale, AR: Shiloh Museum. p. 11.
  15. ^ Mathis (1989). Washington County History. Springdale, AR: Shiloh Museum. p. 14.
  16. ^ Mathis (1989). Washington County History. Springdale, AR: Shiloh Museum. p. 2.
  17. ^ "County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2018". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  19. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  20. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  21. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  22. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  23. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  24. ^ Teske, Steven (March 24, 2014). "Quorum Courts". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  25. ^ Goss, Kay C. (August 28, 2015). "Office of County Judge". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  26. ^ Arkansas Economic Development Institute. Arkansas District Finder (Map). Various. Little Rock: University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  27. ^ "Arkansas Secretary of State". www.sos.arkansas.gov. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  28. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  29. ^ Education, Arkansas Department of. "County/District Elegibility" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  30. ^ Schools, Elkins Public. "Elkins Public Schools". Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  31. ^ Schools, Farmington Public (2009-05-20). "Farmington School District - Farmington Arkansas". Archived from the original on 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  32. ^ Schools, Fayetteville Public (2009). "Fayetteville Public Schools :: Schools & Staff - School Websites". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  33. ^ School District, Greenland (2005). "Greenand School District, AR 72737". Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  34. ^ Academy, Haas Hall (2012). "Haas Hall Academy". Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  35. ^ School District, Lincoln. "Lincoln Consolidated School District". Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  36. ^ School District, Prairie Grove. "Prairie Grove School District - Schools". Archived from the original on 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  37. ^ Schools, Springdale. "Springdale Schools - Schools". Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  38. ^ Schools, West Fork Public. "West Fork, AR West Fork Public Schools". Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  39. ^ "Overview and Points of Pride." Profile. Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on May 10, 2009.
  40. ^ 2011 Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS): Washington County, AR (PDF) (Map). U. S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  41. ^ "Arkansas: 2010 Census Block Maps - County Subdivision". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  42. ^ "City of Fayetteville Water Department Annual Drinking Water Quality Report" (PDF). Consumer Confidence Report. Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health. 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  43. ^ "Springdale Water Utilities Annual Drinking Water Quality Report" (PDF). Consumer Confidence Report. Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health. 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  44. ^ "Community Water System Data". Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Health, Engineering Section. Retrieved December 5, 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°00′09″N 94°13′38″W / 36.00250°N 94.22722°W / 36.00250; -94.22722