River Valley Region, AR
Arkansas' River Valley region is located in the mid-western part of the state, between the Ozarks to the
north and Ouachitas to the south, and bordering Oklahoma to the east. Fort Smith is the largest city in the region,
with other large cities being Van Buren, Greenwood, Clarksville, Russellville and Morrilton. Fort Smith is the
second largest city in Arkansas, and serves as a regional hub for culture, healthcare and transportation.
Russellville is the 16th largest city in the state and is an important economic, education and population center.
The other cities serve as economic centers within their rural counties in the River Valley.
There three national protected areas and six state protected areas in the region. Most notable are Fort Smith
Historical Site, Galla Creek State Wildlife Lake Dam and Wildlife Management Area, Holla Bend National Wildlife
Refuge, Lake Dardanelle State Park, Lake Fort Smith State Park and part of the Ozark National Forest. The River
Valley is home to several annual cultural events, which include art, history, music, traditional heritage festivals
and several county fairs. The Johnson County Peach Festival is the longest-running festival in Arkansas, which is
held annually in July. Some other attractions in the region include Altus Heritage House Museum, Arkansas Historic
Wine Museum, Arkansas Tech University Museum, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Johnson County Historical Society
Heritage Center and the United States Marshals Museum.
The River Valley contains Arkansas' wine country, with fertile soil for growing grapes and other crops. Other
products include cotton, timber, strawberries, hay, cattle, mustard greens and spinach. Alma claimed the title of
"Spinach Capital of the World," erecting a statue of the cartoon character Popeye in front of the Chamber of
Commerce building, and there is also an annual spinach festival. There are a number of historical sites and
memorials dedicated to coal mining, as it was dangerous work and many miners lost their lives, such as the Logan
County Coal Miners Memorial and Museum. Higher education institutions in the region include University of Arkansas
at Morrilton, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, University of the Ozarks and Arkansas Tech University,
Sebastian County is located in the western part of Arkansas' River Valley region, bordering Oklahoma to the west.
It is the fourth most populated county in the state, and is the second smallest by land area. It is named for
William K. Sebastian, U.S. Senator from Arkansas in the 1800s. Fort Smith is the largest city and one of the county
seats, with Greenwood being the other county seat, with additional cities of Barling, Hackett, Hartford,
Huntington, Lavaca and Mansfield., and there are less than 25 other towns and townships. Protected areas in the
county include Fort Smith National Historic Park and part of the Ouachita National Forest, and there are six county
parks. Other attractions include Belle Grove National Historic District, Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, 1882
Clayton House Victorian Mansion and Museum, Chaffee Crossing Historic District, Fort Chafee Museum District, Fort
Smith Air Museum, Fort Smith River Park, Massard Prairie Civil War Battlefield Park, University of Arkansas at Fort
Smith is in this county, and contributes greatly to the economy. Primary industries in Sebastian County include
manufacturing, service industries, mining, timber and agriculture, primarily beef, dairy, spinach and turnip
greens, in the fertile Arkansas River Valley.
Crawford County is also in the western part of Arkansas' River Valley Region, just north of Sebastian County. It is
the 12th most populated county in the state and is named for William H. Crawford, the U.S. Secretary of War in
1815. The county is located largely within the Ozarks, with the southern border of the county on the Arkansas
River, and the southern edge in the Arkansas River Valley. Van Buren is the largest city and the county seat, with
other cities being Alma, Cedarville, Dyer, Kibler, Mountainburg and Mulberry, and there are less than 30 towns,
townships and one unincorporated community. Part of the Ozark National Forest is located in the county. Some other
attractions include Old Frisco Station, a historic rail station, King Opera House, restored in the 1880s, the Bob
Burns Museum, Drennen-Scott Historic Site Museum, with furnishings dating from the 1700s, Clear Creek Recreation
Area and Campground, Lake Fort Smith State Park, Mount Gayler, Mulberry River, Shores Lake, White Rock Mountain
Recreation Area and Campground, Arkansas and Missouri Railroad, offering train excursions through the foothills of
the Ozark Boston Mountains, and Van Buren Downtown Historic District.
Pope County is located in the eastern part of Arkansas' River Valley region. It is named for John Pope, the third
governor of the Arkansas Territory. It is the 13th most populated county in the state, and the 14th largest by
square miles of land area. Russellville is the largest city and the county seat, with additional cities being
Atkins, Dover and London, and more than 20 towns, townships and unincorporated communities. Protected areas include
part of Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, the Ozark National Forest, Dardanelle State Park, which hosts some of
the biggest fishing tournaments in the country, and Ouachita State Park. Some other attractions are Sweeden Island
Park, Long Pool, Bayou Bluff Parks, Dardanelle Lock and Dam, which created Lake Dardanelle, a 35,000-acre body of
water known for its competition fishing, pleasure fishing, boating, water skiing and other recreation. Industry in
the county includes ten Fortune 500 companies, primarily in tire manufacturing, chemicals, paper products, food
processing and communications. Healthcare is also a large employer in the county. Arkansas Tech University is
located in Russellville, and has approximately 10,000 students.