A Brief History of El Dorado, Arkansas

Downtown El Dorado in the early 1900s

El Dorado is the county seat of Union County in south central Arkansas and a center for oil production and refining. Once called the “Queen City of South Arkansas” and, more recently, “Arkansas’ Original Boomtown”, the city was the heart of the 1920s oil boom in South Arkansas (Bridges, 2019). The city was founded in 1843 when Matthew Rainey who owned 160 acres, a retail store, and a pine pole cabin with a dirt floor, deeded all but four acres to establish a town site which became the county seat. (Grave, 2012). Commissioner John Hampton came up with a name: The Spanish name El Dorado meaning “gilded”. A beautiful wooded area with a duck pond in the center was reserved for the public square and the town was laid out around it (History, n. d.).


(No date). Brief History of El Dorado and Union Counties, AR. Retrieved from eldoark.com.

Bridges, Kenneth. (2019, Jan. 12). El Dorado (Union County). South Arkansas Community College.

Find a Grave. (2012, Apr. 9). Matthew F. Rainey. Retrieved from findagrave.com.

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