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County History

The history of Pope County began 186 years ago with the June 1813 establishment of an Indian agency. Major William L. Lovely was appointed as an agent to the Cherokee Indians and established the agency. This area was near the center of the Cherokee settlements in Arkansas. Dwight Mission was later located near the agency and was the first non-Indian settlement in Pope County established in 1820. The first school in Arkansas opened at the mission on January 1, 1822. Pope County was originally formed on November 2, 1829, from part of Crawford County. Later, part of Van Buren County was added to it and still later a part of Johnson and Yell Counties were added to it. It was named for John Pope, the third Arkansas Territorial Governor. As of the 2010 Census, Pope County had a population of 61,754 residents.

Pope County is the 13th largest populated county in the State of Arkansas. It is located in the Arkansas River Valley, midway between Little Rock and Fort Smith. The Arkansas River serves as its south boundary, and the Ozark National Forest is included in its northern boundary. The county covers over 820 square miles, making it the 14th largest county in the state by square miles. It has become one of the top 7 most visited counties in Arkansas. The incorporated cities and towns situated in the county are Atkins, Dover, Hector, London, Pottsville and Russellville (county seat).

Transportation is available for area industries and businesses with Interstate 40 and the Union Pacific Railroad which runs through the county east to west.

Industry includes more than Ten "Fortune 500" companies located in Pope County, including Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Dow Chemical, International Paper, and Tyson Foods. Other major industries include Arkansas Nuclear One, ConAgra Foods, Bibler Lumber Company, New Communications, and Zero Mountain, Inc.

School districts are located in Atkins, Dover, Hector, Pottsville and Russellville. Arkansas Tech University, a fully-accredited four-year college, is located in Russellville and offers an outstanding higher education program to 10,000 students.

Medical facilities such as Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center provide some of the country's top rated healthcare.


Pope County is abundant in natural resources and adventure. The Ozark National Forest has many recreational areas and perhaps the only bayou in the country featuring whitewater. Holla Bend Natural Wildlife Refuge, located to the south of Russellville, is one of the state's most outstanding areas for viewing and photographing wildlife, especially eagles and waterfowl. It also offers a significant wintering population of Canadian geese. The county has two state parks, Lake Dardanelle State Park and Ouachita Park. Lake Dardanelle hosts some of the biggest fishing tournaments in the US. The Corps of Engineers maintains Sweeden Island Park located south of Atkins. The U.S. Forest Service maintains Long Pool and Bayou Bluff Parks, both of which are situated in the Ozark National Forest within Pope County. The Dardanelle Lock and Dam is located on the Arkansas River which created Lake Dardanelle. This 35,000 acre body of water is known for its competition fishing, pleasure fishing, boating, water skiing, and other recreational uses. It's also outlined with camping areas. Recreational opportunities are available year-round throughout the area - hunting, fishing, hang gliding, disc golf, camping, canoeing, hiking, walking trails, water sports, youth and adult ball leagues, and golf, all or which make Pope County one of the most desirable places to live in Arkansas. Welcome!