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Lonoke City

Lonoke City Hall is located at 107 West 2nd Street, Lonoke, AR 72086; phone: 501-676-4300.

Beginnings [1]

In 1858, the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad was building its tracks through Brownsville, then the county seat of Prairie County, located three miles north of the future town of Lonoke. Five years later, during the Civil War, the tracks were destroyed during a skirmish at Brownsville. After the war, the company decided to take a more direct route and bypass Brownsville, resulting in its eventual demise and the birth of the town of Lonoke.

Lonoke was named by one Major Rombaugh, a civil engineer who surveyed the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad right-of-way, and another man named Robinson. The two men had a contract with the railroad to relocate the depot from Hick's Station, established around 1868, which was approximately two miles east of the town. They suggested naming the town for a massive lone red oak tree that stood isolated on the prairie. Rombaugh spelled the word to give it, as he thought, a Native American sound of "Lo-no-kah," but everyone else pronounced it "Lone-oak." Isaac C. Hicks and Hamilton Reynolds surveyed the site and completed the town-lot plan in 1869. The first business in Lonoke was the general store W. K. Hocker and Company, which moved from Hick's Station to the new town site in 1868, before it was laid out. In 1869, T. C. Beard and William Goodrum opened a general store. Lonoke was incorporated as a town on January 22, 1872, and elected its first officials, headed by Mayor

Isaac C. Hicks. On April 16, 1873, Lonoke County was created from portions of Prairie and Pulaski counties, with Lonoke the county seat. Within three years, the population had grown to almost 500 people, as most of the citizens of Brownsville moved south with the railroad.

The first courthouse was the building formerly used as the Prairie County Courthouse in Brownsville that was dismantled, moved to Lonoke, and reassembled. In 1928, the town built a new three-story brick courthouse, with the county jail located on the top floor. This building still serves as the current courthouse, though the jail has moved to another site.

Originally, Lonoke was cattle and lumber country, but later, the prairie lands were converted to farmlands. Cotton, corn, and hay were grown and shipped out on its railways. In the spring of 1897, W. H. Fuller planted the first rice crop in Lonoke County. The flat land, with its abundance of water, was ideal for this new crop, and soon, rice rivaled cotton as the area's most profitable harvest. Around 1940, soybeans joined the agricultural mix, and today it is also a crop of economic importance to the area.

In 1928, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission built what was then the world's largest fish hatchery on the south edge of town. Today named the Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery, its fifty-seven ponds cover 267 acres and comprise the largest state-owned fish hatchery. Farmers developed much of the flat land around Lonoke into their own fish and minnow farms, creating another large part of the local economy.

  1. City of Lonoke with Urban Planning Associates, Inc., City of Lonoke, General Plan, December, 2011
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