The town of Mulberry, in the Arkansas River Valley, has been a recreational and farmland center since being settled around the time of the Louisiana Purchase. Early settlers called the area “Mulberry” because of the large mulberry trees lining its banks. During the Civil War, Mulberry suffered heavily, despite there being few battles nearby. Both Confederate and Federal guerillas operated in the area, destroying crops, stealing, plundering, and harassing citizens. Many families lost their possessions and livelihoods. Things improved with the coming of the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad in 1876, however, as a permanent settlement near its path was desired. According to Goodspeed’s Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Northwestern Arkansas, Thomas A. Carter bought the land east of the main road to the river—a road that later became Mulberry’s Main Street. Robert Henry Hicks, farmer and barrister, purchased the property on the west.
The Depression also affected Mulberry dramatically, and many citizens moved to California to seek employment after their farms were flooded in 1923 and 1927. After the stock market crash of 1929, local men began supplementing the income of their families by fishing, hunting, and trapping. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided jobs such as building dams, school facilities, bridges, and rural roads for a number of men in the Mulberry area. The city began to prosper again following World War II.
Mulberry is well-renowned around the state for its outdoor recreation facilities, which provide year-round water sports, fishing, and hunting. The Mulberry River is used extensively for canoeing and kayaking; swimming and tubing are permitted on area streams. Recreation areas include Bluff Hole Park and the Vine Prairie Park. Pole and rod fishing are permitted on the T. J. House Reservoir. Small game and deer hunting is available in season. The city was designated as a bird sanctuary and also has an abundance of older trees, including the notable willow oaks.
Farming has always been big business in the Mulberry area. The local farmers raise livestock, chickens, and grow hay, soybeans, and other food crops. Mulberry has an industrial park off Highway 64 West, and area jobs are available in agriculture, trucking, automotive and electrical mechanics, construction, education, and banking. In 2012, American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame, Inc. built a 32,000-square-foot plant in Mulberry to process locally grown edamame, a specialized soybean product typically imported from China. In a press conference, Mulberry was dubbed the “future edamame capital of the United States.”
For additional information:
- Benham, A. G. A Story of Mulberry. Mulberry, AR: 1976.
- Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwestern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.
- Crawford County Bicentennial Commission. An Historical Salute to Crawford County. Van Buren, AR: The Courier, 1976.
- Eno, Clara B. History of Crawford County, Arkansas. Van Buren, AR: Press Argus, 1950.
- Hopkins, Eula, and Wanda M. Gray, eds. History of Crawford County, Arkansas. Van Buren: Historical Preservation Association of Crawford County, 2001.
- Perrier, Ruth B. Arkansas Folklore, 1960. “History of Mulberry, Crawford County, Arkansas.” Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
- Social Science Department, Mulberry High School. History of Mulberry. Mulberry, AR: 1946.
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