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Lets Go Transportation 1700 Goodwin Ave West Memphis AR 72301
(870) 394-4888
Howard Johnson West Memphis 210 West Service Road, West Memphis, AR
(870) 735-3232
Tackers Automotive 3500 E Broadway St, West Memphis, AR
(870) 732-1414
QualaWash 400 Mound City Road, West Memphis, AR
(870) 732-2255
Goodyear Auto Service Center 1625 N Missouri St, West Memphis, AR
(870) 735-5000
Pfa Staffing PO Box 1163, West Memphis, AR
(870) 733-1705
Flying J Travel Plaza 3400 Service Loop Road, I-40 Exit 280/i-55 Exit 4, West Memphis, AR
(870) 735-8200
Auto 1510 East Broadway Street, West Memphis, AR
(870) 733-9880
Holiday Inn West Memphis-I-55 2007 S Service Rd, West Memphis, Arkansas
(870) 735-4055
Wingfoot Truck Care Center 800 Club Road, West Memphis, AR
(870) 735-4227
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About West Memphis

West Memphis, Arkansas





West Memphis collage.jpg
Flag of West Memphis, Arkansas
Official seal of West Memphis, Arkansas
Nickname(s): Wonder City, Gateway City
Motto: "Beautiful from every direction."
Location of West Memphis, Arkansas





West Memphis is the largest city in Crittenden County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 26,245 at the 2010 census, ranking it as the state's 18th largest city, behind Bella Vista. It is part of the Memphismetropolitan area, and is located directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis.






Pre-European habitation

Native Americans lived in the Mississippi River Valley for at least 10,000 years, although much of the evidence of their presence has been buried or destroyed. The Indians of the Mississippian Period were the last native inhabitants of the West Memphis area. Mound City Road, located within the eastern portion of the West Memphis city limits, has a marker indicating that the villages of Aquixo (Aquijo) or Pacaha were in the area. Several mounds are still visible.



European exploration and settlement

Explorers from both Spain and France visited the area near West Memphis. Among those explorers were Hernando de Sotoand his men from Spain and Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet from France. By the time French hunters and explorers entered the region, the Mississippian towns and other settlements had been abandoned. The original site of West Memphis came from Spanish land grants issued during the 1790s. Grants were given to Benjamin Fooy, John Henry Fooy, and Isaac Fooy in the Hopefield (Crittenden County) area and to William McKenney in the Bridgeport-West Memphis area.


Early history

In the summer of 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto crossed the Mississippi River into what is now Crittenden County with an army of over 300 conquistadors and almost as many captured Native American slaves. The Spanish found the land to be the most densely populated that they had seen since starting their journey on the Florida coast, two years earlier. The Spanish expedition departed Arkansas two years later, leaving behind numerous Old World diseases. It was 130 years before Europeans visited this region again. The French expedition of Joliet and Marquette in 1673 found none of the towns or people that the Spanish had documented; all that remained were the many mounds that still dot the landscape along the rivers and creeks. The original inhabitants, like the later settlers, were drawn to this region because of its fertile river bottom soil, abundant game, and thick forest.


First settlement

The earliest recorded immigrant to the area that is now West Memphis, Benjamin Foy, was a native of Holland who was sent in 1795 by the Spanish governor of the large area claimed by Spain to establish a settlement on the Mississippi River. He chose a location across the river from present-day Memphis. In 1797 the hamlet, designated Foy's Point, took the nameCamp de la Esperanza or as translated, "Field of Hope". The name remained but took on an English name, "Hopefield", when it became part of the United States with the completion of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Foy was appointed to the new position of United States Magistrate of the region.


Crittenden County

Crittenden County is bounded on the east by the Mississippi River and was established in 1825, eleven years before Arkansas became a state. Named after Robert Crittenden, the first secretary of the Arkansas Territory, the county had a population of 1,272 in 1830. Hopefield became the eastern terminal for the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad in 1857. However, the Civil War forced a halt to track construction just east of the St. Francis River in 1861.


Civil War and the end of Hopefield

The former West Memphis City Hall is one of eight sites in the city listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the summer of 1862 Memphis fell into the hands of the Union forces. MostConfederate soldiers were ferried across the river to Hopefield, Arkansas, and surrounding farms. Many of these soldiers were moved on to other battle fronts, but some remained to harass the Union forces and disrupt river traffic. This became such a problem that on February 19, 1863, four companies of Federal forces burned down the entire town. The town of Hopefield was rebuilt after the war but never regained the prominence it once held in Crittenden County. Hopefield was eventually destroyed by flood in 1912 through a change in the course of the Mississippi River.


Post Reconstruction through the Gilded Age

The first buildings on the banks of the Mississippi River were a residence, built in 1875, and the railroad station. Both were built on stilts to keep out the floodwaters. In 1884, a town was laid out, and with a population of 200, West Memphis appointed its first postmaster, Robert Vance. The early West Memphis site had a grain elevator, a two-story hotel, two sawmills, and several boarding houses. Due to the change from river traffic to rail traffic and the introduction of lumbering in the area, people began to drift toward the new West Memphis.

The West Memphis area usually flooded in the spring until the St. Francis Levee District was established in 1893. However, private landowners along the Mississippi River built levees that were only three or four feet high. In 1912 and 1913, the St. Francis main levee broke, flooding the area from West Memphis to Forrest City in St. Francis County; Hopefield was washed away in 1912. The current was so strong that steel rails wrapped around trees. During the Flood of 1927, another break in the levee left the area under water, and during the Flood of 1937, the river washed over the top of the levees. However, less damage was done than in 1913. After the levees were built to help with the floodwater, people saw the need for a town government.



Founding of West Memphis

Crittenden County needed a new center for government and business after the Civil War. In 1884 the town of West Memphis was platted by second-generation Crittenden County residents, two sons of Robert Vance. Robert Vance, Jr., and his brother William Vance were among the first settlers of the region in the 1830s. Within a year the town had grown to over two hundred residents. Robert Vance was appointed postmaster of West Memphis in 1885. By 1888 West Memphis had three businesses owned by the Winchester brothers, the Richard brothers and C.B. Givin.



Lumber industry

Because of the vast resources of massive old growth forests surrounding the young town of West Memphis, the lumber industry became the fuel for its progress into the twentieth century. In 1904, Zack Bragg moved to West Memphis and opened Bragg Mill. With the construction of a railroad bridge over the Mississippi River in 1892, the rail line that had once passed through Hopefield moved to Hulbert, a small farm town owned by a Memphis attorney on the edge of West Memphis. Bragg was able to ship his milled lumber and logs by rail and by river. In 1914, P.T. Bolz of St. Louis opened the Bolz Slack Barrel Cooperage plant.


Early 20th century

Both the building of the railroads and the clearing of the timberlands helped establish the second West Memphis. It was located near the area that is about three miles south of the present town's 8th through 12th streets. General George Nettleton, an official of the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis Railroad, known today as the Burlington Northern Railroad, named the town West Memphis in 1883. The surrounding land was filled with virgin timber.

In the early 1900s, Henry Ruple Dabbs and his brother Ed established their general store in a building in Hulbert, an area that was later annexed by West Memphis. This was once called Berkley's Landing. Their business was in the two-story brick building at 1320 South Avalon, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Until the post office at the second West Memphis was established in 1920, patrons received their mail through the Hulbert office by a horseback rider.

The first river bridge opened on May 12, 1892. A second bridge, known as the Harahan Bridge, was built across the Mississippi River and opened in 1916. Before it was built, most vehicles, except trains, had to ferry across the Mississippi. Tolls were collected to help pay for the bridge until 1930. The Harahan Bridge was damaged by fire in 1928, and it reopened after 18 months of repairs.

In 1923, West Memphis was incorporated. The first mayor was Zach T. Bragg, who established one of the first logging mills in the region. The school located at 309 W. Barton Avenue is named Bragg Elementary in honor of him.


20th century growth

The first automobile bridge across the Mississippi River at Memphis was constructed in 1917. This heralded the growth of the small industrial town of West Memphis as its main street, Broadway Avenue, became a U.S. Highway and an influx of traffic began streaming through the town.

West Memphis was officially incorporated in 1923 and continued to grow to become the largest city in Crittenden County. The availability of river and rail transportation transformed West Memphis into the manufacturing and distribution hub of the county. In the 1930s West Memphis, along with the rest of the Mississippi Delta, suffered due to the economic depression and the devastating 1927 flood in the Mississippi River Valley. However, the city grew and developed at a record pace. The most notable export of West Memphis from that era was its original blues music. At one time Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and B.B. King lived in West Memphis.

The growth and development of the city's main commercial thoroughfare, Broadway Avenue, was instigated by the increased traffic and by demand for the industrial products produced and shipped through West Memphis by rail and river. Tourist courts, restaurants, hotels and other amenities geared toward the traveler were constructed along the traffic corridor through West Memphis. During the World War II years, transportation of soldiers and goods by road, river, and rail in the Memphis/West Memphis area created the need for lodging and other services. Construction in 1949 of a second automobile bridge across the Mississippi, connecting Memphis and West Memphis, created another influx of automobile traffic.

The buildings in the 700, 800 and 900 blocks of East Broadway reflect the growth of the city of West Memphis in the years 1930 to 1958. Until the national interstate highway system was opened in the 1950s, diverting traffic away from former routes through the middle of America's towns, West Memphis' Broadway Avenue was the city's center of commerce, with retail stores, tourist courts and hotels and office buildings. Decline of Broadway Avenue was rapid after the traffic through the town diminished with the opening of the interstate highways. Although the three blocks of East Broadway contained in the West Memphis Commercial Historic District remain much as they appeared in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the remainder of the city's major traffic corridor, Broadway Avenue, has changed significantly.

Because West Memphis and the surrounding areas in Crittenden County have been subject to some of the country's most disastrous floods due to the Mississippi River backing into the St. Francis River, the growth of the city was delayed. It was not until the importance of the automobile and its rapid rise as the nation's major mode of transportation that the growth of West Memphis begin in earnest. The city's major corridor, Broadway Avenue, also U.S. Highway 70, brought thousands of travelers through the city and created the demand for the businesses that were opened in the 1930s and 1940s along the highly traveled route.


World War II through modern era

In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, 8th Street was often called "Beale Street West", reflecting a music and nightlife scene to equal that in Memphis. Some places in West Memphis have been associated with famous entertainers, such as the Square Deal Café—referred to as Miss Annie's Place on South 16th Street, where B.B. King began his public entertaining—and The Coffee Cup—located at 204 East Broadway in the 1950s, outside which Elvis Presley ate his first breakfast after being inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1958. Other popular night spots along Broadway Street were Willowdale Inn, the Cotton Club, and the Plantation Inn.

Legal greyhound racing began in the county in 1935. In the years that followed, the track closed several times—once for flooding, another due to World War II, and another time due to fire. However, the business currently known as Southland Park Gaming & Racing on North Ingram Boulevard has been in the same location since 1956 and is now open every day of the week, including 24 hours on weekends.

West Memphis began its role as a trucking hub with the opening of parts of Interstate 55 in the 1950s. With both I-55 and I-40 traveling toward the Mississippi River, West Memphis became known as the "crossroads of America" in the trucking industry. In 1973, a six-lane highway bridge, known as the Hernando de Soto Bridge and located north of the Harahan, opened as part of I-40.

On December 14, 1987, a tornado killed six people and caused approximately $35 million in damage. The town had not recovered from the tornado damage when it flooded from 12 inches (300 mm) of rain on December 25, 1987. Additionally, 7 to 10 inches (180 to 250 mm) of snow fell on January 6, 1988. When the snow began to melt, this added to the already existing flood problems and the destruction caused by the tornado.

Some of the major employers in the city are Schneider National Carriers, Southland Park Gaming & Racing, Family Dollar Distribution, FedEx National LTL, and Robert Bosch Power Tools. Family Dollar Distribution and FedEx National LTL are located in the Mid-America Industrial Park west of the city.

The 1993 murders of three young boys and the subsequent convictions of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. brought a lot of unwanted attention to West Memphis. The three young men convicted were known as theWest Memphis Three and brought about a great of public intrigue. Three documentaries have been made about the incident, the first being Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley were released from jail in 2011 after signing an Alford plea which allowed them to plea guilty while maintaining their innocence. They were released with time served and place on probation until 2021.







Primarily because of its central location and transportation infrastructure, West Memphis has become a hub for distribution and assembly operations. Healthcare has become a large component of the city's business with Crittenden Regional Hospital, numerous clinics and nursing homes located in town.

The city lies at the point where two of the nation's most heavily travelled interstate highways, Interstate 40 and Interstate 55, intersect with the Mississippi River (a major cargo waterway) and large rail-lines operated by BNSF and Union Pacific.Cable Television, Internet and Digital Phone is provided by Comcast. AT&T provides Phone and Internet Service.


Distribution centers

Major operations include distribution centers for retailers such as Family Dollar Stores and manufacturers such as Ciba Chemicals.

Continuing nearly $40 million in expenditures in West Memphis since 1998, Ciba Specialty Chemicals began construction of a new $1.3 million, 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) laboratory facility in December 2003, which was completed in June 2004.




Parks and recreation

Public parks

West Memphis Gateway[edit]

The West Memphis Gateway serves as the main entrance to the city of West Memphis. The LED lighting for the overpasssupport beams light at night according to the season of the year.

Downtown (Broadway)[edit]

Downtown West Memphis (2010)

Broadway is the downtown district for the city of West Memphis. This downtown area has more than 84 stores and restaurants lining the street and is still growing. Broadway is the host of the city's "Blues on Broadway", hosting famous blues singers. City officials are still finding ways to renovate this area.

Districts of West Memphis[edit]


Southland Greyhound Park (2008)

West Memphis is one of only two cities in Arkansas (along with Hot Springs) with a venue for parimutuel gambling, antedating the casino developments in nearbyTunica County, Mississippi, by many years.

In the 1990s, Southland Greyhound Park, one of West Memphis' largest employers, saw its attendance and revenues decline drastically, with a corresponding economic impact on both the town and state. This was largely attributed to the rise of casino gambling in nearby Tunica, Mississippi. By 2002, Southland struggled to survive.[19]

Following an estimated $40 million investment by the park's owner[20] and the addition since 2006 of electronic games of skill and video poker machines,[21][22]Southland has added more than 300 new employees, making it the third largest employer in West Memphis with 660 employees.[20]



Public schools[edit]

A portion of the city of West Memphis is located within the Marion Public School District.

  • West Memphis High School, grades 10-12
  • Marion High School (Arkansas) (Marion Public School District, grades 10-12)
  • West Junior High School, grades 7-9
  • East Junior High School, grades 7-9
  • Marion Junior High School (Marion Public School District, grades 8-9)
  • Marion Middle School (Marion Public School District, grades 6-7)
  • Bragg Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Marion Intermediate School (Marion Public School District 4-5)
  • Marion Elementary School (Marion Public School District 2-3)
  • Avondale Elementary School (Marion Public School District prekindergarten-1st grade)
  • Richland Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Faulk Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Jackson Elementary School, prekindergarten-6th grade
  • Maddux Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Weaver Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Wedlock Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Wonder Elementary School, kindergarten-6th grade
  • Wonder Junior High School, grades 7-9

Private schools[edit]

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