Mountain Home [†] was incorporated as a town in 1888, but the original settlement at this location was called Rapp's Barren after an early white settler who established a trading post in the area in the early 1800s. The area was called "Barren" because it was a tall grass prairie with very few trees, and people thought the soil was infertile. It is said that for every thousand trees we see here today, early settlers saw only one. People settled by springs, rivers, or a creek, and they hunted, trapped, farmed, and traded amongst themselves to make a living. In the early days, cotton and corn were big crops in this region because of the vast prairie land available for cultivation. However, much of the good farmland was flooded when Norfork and Bull Shoals Lakes were made. Trees began to grow in large numbers here after the land had been cultivated, and the water table changed due to the formation of the lakes.
Colonel Orrin L. Dodd established a plantation at Rapp's Barren in the early 1850s, and he also owned a plantation down the White River at Augusta. Legend goes that his slaves would brag about their "Sweet Mountain Home," cooled by mountain breezes, while traveling back and forth between plantations via steamboats. Colonel Dodd worked with Professor John S. Howard to establish the Male and Female Academy here in the 1850s, and the town of Mountain Home grew up around the school. When Baxter County was established in 1873, Mountain Home was named the county seat because of its educational institution. The Mountain Home College opened in 1893, attracting more people to the town.
Rachel Silva and Amy Milliken, Walks Through History, 2017, www.arkansasheritage.com, accessed January, 2023.