Local History

Visit our permanent exhibits and online exhibits pages to explore a variety of topics on Northwest Arkansas history.

A Brief History of Springdale, Our Hometown
En Espanol

Archeologists believe that there have been people living in the area for about 12,000 years. The abundance of natural resources attracted the earliest people, and the Osage Indians frequently used this area for hunting. The Cherokee Treaty of 1828 opened the area to white settlers from eastern states.

In 1840, a small settlement was established around a log church known as the Shiloh Regular Baptist Church. The community became known as "Shiloh," although Civil War records refer to the fledgling settlement as "Holcomb's Spring" after the pioneering John and Dorothea Holcomb family. By 1872, Shiloh had grown big enough to need a post office. However, Arkansas already had a town named Shiloh. Due to the abundant local springs, “Springs in the Dale” was suggested by Shiloh resident Sarah Reed Meek. The town was incorporated officially as Springdale in 1878. The arrival of the railroad in 1881 connected local farmers with distant markets and Springdale became a busy hub for produce to be sold, bought, canned, and shipped around the country.

 Springdale in 1876

Springdale in 1876. Painting by Erwin Doege

In the early 1900s, farmers started experimenting with poultry growing, which led to serious investments and innovations. By the end of World War II, poultry had taken over as the area’s most prosperous industry. Tyson Foods became the largest producer of protein food products world-wide. In addition, the local trucking industry boomed. Harvey Jones established Jones Truck Lines which, by the 1950s, became the largest privately owned trucking carrier in the country.

The growth of the poultry industry attracted more people to the area. As a result of growing job opportunities, the Hispanic population tripled between 1990 and 1995. By 2006, they represented 33% of the city’s population. In addition, the largest Marshallese population outside of the Marshall Islands also resides in Springdale. Today Springdale is a big part of the growing and prosperous economic powerhouse that is Northwest Arkansas. The challenge for the future involves balancing rapid growth with preserving the natural resources and beauty that first drew people here.

Historic Downtown Springdale Walking Tour

We're very proud of Helen Tyson Middle School EAST students who have created a walking tour of historic downtown Springdale. Download a brochure, explore the online Story Map (a great way to experience the tour is by using your mobile device), or pick up a printed brochure here at the museum.

The historic downtown walking tour is a partnership between Helen Tyson Middle School, EAST Beyond the Bell Initiative, and the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.

Special thanks to HTMS EAST instructors Brittany Berry and Jenny Jones for their committment to the project, and most importantly, to their students.

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