A Brief History of Mena, Arkansas

Mena, Arkansas, in 1907. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives.

Mena is the county seat of Polk County, Arkansas. Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, it is a gateway to some of the most visited tourist attractions in Arkansas. Mena was founded in the late nineteenth century as a railroad town in western Arkansas. Situated amid the Ouachita National Forest and surrounded by state parks and trails, the city is now something of a tourist destination, though it also has a diversified economy based upon agriculture and manufacturing. Mena was one of many towns founded along the route of Arthur Edward Stilwell’s Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf Railroad (later the Kansas City Southern), stretching from Kansas City, Missouri, to Port Arthur, Texas. The town of Mena takes its name from the nickname of Folmina Margaretha Janssen de Goeijen, the wife of one of Stilwell’s financiers (Janssen Park is also named after her). The first train pulled into Mena on August 19, 1896. Mena was incorporated the following month. The Bank of Mena opened its doors on May 5, 1897, and the county seat was moved from Dallas to Mena in 1898. By 1900, the city’s population was 3,423. The new city readily advertised itself both as a spa city situated in a healthy environment and as a center for agriculture and extractive industries such as timber and mineral resources (Encyclopedia, 2018).


(2018, Oct. 22). Mena (Polk County). Retrieved from encyclopediaofarkansas.net.

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