I pull into Glenwood early on a rainy Tuesday morning, looking forward to breakfast with the local good ol' boys at the O.K. Cafe. Alas, it's closed.

There has to be somewhere that serves breakfast. I drive downtown and see a banner advertising breakfast at Blue Lily Cafe & Florist. It turns out to be a delightful surprise, serving the quality of coffee and baked goods that one would expect to find in a far larger town than Glenwood, which had a population of 2,068 in the 2020 census.

This is timber country. The town's origins can be traced back to construction of the Gurdon & Fort Smith Railroad along the banks of the Caddo River.

"Construction began in 1905," writes historian Russell Baker. "In its wake, a number of new communities, most destined to be the location of large lumber mills, sprang up. Among these were Graysonia in Clark County, Rosboro and Glenwood in Pike County, and Caddo Gap and Womble (now Norman) in Montgomery County. In 1907, Caddo River Lumber Co., led by Thomas Rosborough, built a mill a few miles north of Amity at a site named Rosboro.

"A second company, A.L. Clark Lumber Co. from Gilmore, Texas, purchased an old cotton field across the river from the village of Rock Creek and began construction of an even larger sawmill. It was a short distance from a newly opened railroad depot. About the same time, another timber company moved in from Louisiana. With these mills under construction and the railroad in full operation, two businessmen, Curt Hays and Will Fagan, laid out a town site on both sides of the depot."

The timber industry remains important. Resolute Forest Products, which is based in Canada, acquired a sawmill at Glenwood in 2020 and announced plans to invest $8.4 million to allow the facility to expand production capacity to 185 million board feet of lumber and decking. Work on that expansion began last year.

"With 19 million acres of forestland, Arkansas is in a unique position to be a leader in the timber industry," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the time of the purchase. "Because of that, we want to ensure that we attract companies that will be a good corporate fit. Resolute not only values sustainability, but it works to preserve the natural resources where it does business."

It was then announced in July that Domtar Corp., best known in Arkansas for its massive pulp and paper mill at Ashdown, is acquiring Resolute. The company will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Domtar and continue to operate under the Resolute name.

In the early 1900s, Hays and Fagan made a wise decision on where to locate a town. Baker notes that "business lots sold quickly, and a boomtown grew almost overnight. Glenwood, reflecting the beautiful location of the community, was chosen for a name. By July 1907, the village, with a population of about 250, had obtained a post office. It replaced the old post office at Rock Creek."

The town incorporated in April 1908. The population grew from 768 in the 1910 census to 891 in 1920 and 1,310 in 1930.

"In 1914, Glenwood received an additional boost when the Memphis, Dallas & Gulf Railroad opened tracks between Glenwood and Hot Springs, making the town a major rail junction as well as one of the centers of the lumber industry in the southern Ouachita Mountains," Baker writes. "By 1916, the community included several churches, a telephone system and a public dipping vat, where farmers brought their livestock for dipping as part of the state's tick eradication program.

"While Hays and Fagan were busy developing Glenwood proper, A.L. Clark Lumber was building its own residential area near its mill. It consisted of large white-frame houses for mill supervisors and office employees along Gilmer Street. Smaller houses for workers, painted red and white, were built along Clay Street."

Because of the color of those houses, Clay Street was often called Candy Street. Growth was further spurred with the paving of what's now U.S. 70 between Glenwood and Hot Springs. Big peach orchards also were planted near Glenwood during this period.

The Great Depression hit Glenwood hard. By 1940, the population had dropped by more than 400 residents to 854. By 1960, it was down to 840.

"In 1922, Caddo River Lumber purchased the A.L. Clark mill at Glenwood and expanded it," Baker writes. "On a stormy night in June 1936, a lightning strike started a blaze that consumed most of the mill. Though the mill remained open another 18 months, the company didn't consider rebuilding. It relocated its entire operation to Oregon and took many of Glenwood's leading families with it.

"Glenwood survived because more modest lumber operations sprang up in the wake of the destruction of the mill. ... In 1940, Arkansas Slate Manufacturing Co. built a mill north of Glenwood to produce roofing granules. In 1942, a manganese processing plant was opened west of town. At the same time, a worldwide shortage of cinnabar caused by World War II led to extensive mining in the area."

Industrial growth and annexation caused Glenwood's population to increase from 1,212 in 1970 to 2,228 by 2010. In addition to aggressive hiring at what was then Curt Bean Lumber Co., the town saw construction of a golf course at the Glenwood Country Club that brings visitors from across the state along with the increased popularity of Caddo River float trips.

Meanwhile, the growth of the poultry industry brought an influx of Hispanic immigrants. The 2020 census showed that 17 percent of residents are Hispanic.

Senior Editor Rex Nelson's column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He's also the author of the Southern Fried blog at rexnelsonsouthernfried.com.

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Breakfast at Glenwood

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24.09.2022

I pull into Glenwood early on a rainy Tuesday morning, looking forward to breakfast with the local good ol' boys at the O.K. Cafe. Alas, it's closed.

There has to be somewhere that serves breakfast. I drive downtown and see a banner advertising breakfast at Blue Lily Cafe & Florist. It turns out to be a delightful surprise, serving the quality of coffee and baked goods that one would expect to find in a far larger town than Glenwood, which had a population of 2,068 in the 2020 census.

This is timber country. The town's origins can be traced back to construction of the Gurdon & Fort Smith Railroad along the banks of the Caddo River.

"Construction began in 1905," writes historian Russell Baker. "In its wake, a number of new communities, most destined to be the location of large lumber mills, sprang up. Among these were Graysonia in Clark County, Rosboro and Glenwood in Pike County, and Caddo Gap and Womble (now Norman) in Montgomery County. In 1907, Caddo River Lumber Co., led by Thomas Rosborough, built a mill a few miles north of Amity at a site named Rosboro.

"A second company, A.L. Clark Lumber Co. from Gilmore, Texas, purchased an old cotton field across the river from the village of Rock Creek and began construction of an even larger sawmill. It was a short distance from a newly opened railroad depot. About the same time, another timber company moved in from Louisiana. With these mills........

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