in White County is home to popular community
Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
February 11, 2001
Describing the drive to the community of El Paso is easy.
"Richly rural" seems to summarize it well.
There's plenty of signs advertising local businesses alongside
the miles of pasture and plenty of country mansions lining U.S.
64 from Beebe to Arkansas 5, where El Paso can be located by
taking a sharp right.
Shawn Taylor, a native of El Paso, is sitting at a stop sign on
what looks like a relatively new four-wheeler. He's friendly,
attentive and seems eager to go for a ride.
When asked what there is do in his hometown, he states with
somewhat of a tenor voice, "There's not much of anything. A lot
of people ride their four-wheelers around here. That's about
His grandfather, Verlon Oakley, has lived here longer than most.
"Back when I was a kid, there were only four houses here. And
now, there are houses everywhere a person can look No one
bothers you in this area," he said. "The people here are really
different. It used to be that most everyone knew everybody.
Things have changed, and I don't know everybody anymore."
What he does know, however, is that the town was founded in the
1800s. The name, he said, originated from a passageway that is
located between two hills. The area was known as El Paso, and
that is how the name El Paso was derived. That passageway is
still visible from Arkansas 5, but travelers can no longer drive
"Derwin Anderson cal tell you a lot about this town," Oakley
said. "He's another person that has lived here for a while."
When asked about the number of people that reside in El Paso,
Oakley has an amusing response. "There are as many people
that have moved in," he said.
It's obviously an interesting question to most of the
residents because no one seems exactly sure about the answer.
When talking with Mrs. James Anderson, she's also a little
perplexed. "I don't really know."
Her response seems to make sense when a person considers that
not even the sign that welcomes travelers to El Paso reflects a
number. A rough estimate would be that somewhere near 50 to 100
people are here.
One of the characteristics that make this town somewhat famous
in this area is its court square. It's an area located across
from the beauty shop in town…where the county seat courthouse
was originally going to be located.
"They ended up moving it closer to the middle of the county,"
Oakley said. "Most people know about us because of that."
Activities in El Paso include baseball and an occasional
carnival. They also like to cook a lot of fish.
"We play a lot of baseball in this area," Oakley said. "We also
have a lot of family reunions. Anybody that wants to have one
can use the community center we have in town. It's a really big
As for commerce, El Paso is home to a few businesses such as a
trading post, the infamous beauty shop, a McDonald's and a post
"At one time, there used to be nine stores that were located
here," she said. "We don't have any now. About the closest thing
we have to one is the Trading Post located at the edge of town."
The Trading Post, which has a sign that reads, "Elvis is in the
building," is a rather unique little tourist center where
travelers can purchase just about anything needed and probably a
few things not so needed.
There are plenty of horses out here, too. Several can be seen at
the ranch located about a block up from the Trading Post. It is
a part of the town's heritage.
"I rode a horse a many a mile over this area," Oakley said.
"There aren't that many people that have them anymore. Everybody
is about to go out of the farming and cattle-raising business."
An event unique to this town is the annual Halloween Carnival
and fish fry. Held each year in the heart of the community, it's
described as a time when community members come together and get
According to Taylor, "There is no violence here. That's what
makes it such a great place to live." That and, perhaps, all the
decorative flamingo birds that can be seen in many of the
residents' front yards.
Without question, there does seem to be a very distinct, but
charming culture in El Paso. "Home on the range," is a common
axiom, but one that seems to best befit this friendly, but rural
Paso is an excerpt from Road Trips; a weekly feature of small
towns in Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and published by the
Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)