History of Hot Spring County, Arkansas
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In 1870 a town site was laid out by the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. This site was named Malvern, after Malvern Hills Virginia. On October 15, 1878, Malvern officially become the county seat of Hot Spring County. Before that date the neighboring community of Rockport had been the center of the county government. Original inhabitants of the county were Native Americans, trappers, hunters, farmers and a few criminals who had escaped across the Mississippi River.

Hot Spring County was formed in 1829 and encompassed many natural hot springs. With the formation of Garland County, Hot Spring County was left with one spring located in the Magnet Cove area.

During this period people traveled by stagecoach, covered wagons, ox teams, and horses. When the railroad was in working order, merchants began to move near the modern transportation. The "Diamond Jo" railroad, built by Joseph Reynolds, a Chicago industrialist, transported travelers to and from Hot Springs, Arkansas. This was the only railroad into Hot Springs for 15 years.

Some of the first businesses were dry good stores, a ten-cent store, and a saloon. Later more businesses and saloons were opened. Due to the saloon's "shoot-up" episodes, Malvern held a reputation of being one of the roughest areas in Arkansas. Despite this reputation and the loss of the hot springs, Malvern and Hot Spring County were still able to grow with the prosperity of diary, livestock, timber, mining and manufacturing.

Some historic moments in Malvern and Hot Spring County:

  • The first river bridge in Arkansas, which was built in 1846 where the Military Road crosses Ouachita River in Rockport. The bridge, however, washed out the following year.

  • The first governor of Arkansas, James Sevier Conway (1836-1840), lived in Magnet Cove.

  • The U.S. Navy named a World War II ship the USS Malvern, Arkansas.

Visit the Boyle House Museum for many displays and exhibits that tell the history of Malvern.
Much of the above information was supplied by a press release from the city of Malvern.
 

Hot Spring County, AR - Coordinator - Jeff Kemp