Visitors who pause to take in the ambience of the Bradley County Courthouse Square in downtown (pop. 6,442) often find themselves recalling a more easy-going era in American life. For those of a certain age, it is not a hard thing to do when standing within the sight of brick-paved streets and an impressive, 1903 courthouse with its clock-tower bell marking hours that seem to pass more slowly in this and other small towns.
The square has been a focal point of area life for some 165 years. It became the seat of county government in 1842, two years after the state legislature created . The county was named after Hugh Bradley, one of the founders of the Pennington Settlement. The first community to be established in the area by pioneers of European descent, the settlement was founded in 1825 at a site along the SalineRiver about six miles north of modern-day Warren.
The county government would conduct its business out of Bradley's home until 1842, when logs were hewn and a courthouse built on the present-day courthouse square. The town of Warren was not incorporated until 1851. The origin of its name is uncertain, though local historians believe it was likely named after an early settler.
The square today is home to the town's legendary early summer festival, the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival. Thousands flock to the area each June for an opportunity to sample the county's famous product, take part in the tomato eating contest, and sample the cuisine served as the All-Tomato Luncheon.
The courthouse and 10 other Warren structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Joining the courthouse on the register are five residences, a railroad station, a Colonial Revival-style post office, an Art Moderne-style auto dealership/service station and two churches.
Photographs of some 1,700 men and women from the county who have served in the U.S. military adorn the walls of the Bradley County Veterans Museum at 210 N. Main St. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Another Warren-area attraction is Kartways of Arkansas, which offers the fastest rental go-carts available in Arkansas and a combination half-mile road track with a built-in, one-fifth mile oval. Kartways' 6.5-horsepower, beginner-level carts will do 35 m.p.h. and its top-level vehicles feature 6-speed shifting and more than 30 horsepower. Age restrictions do apply. The track also hosts sanctioned local, regional and national races; a race driving school; special events for corporations; parties; and family reunions. It is located off U.S. 278 southeast of Warren at 916 Bradley Co. Rd. South.
The Saline River, which almost forms the county's entire eastern border, is an excellent location for catching spotted or "Kentucky" bass, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Located in the extreme southern reaches of the county is a portion of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge. Also known for its fishing opportunities, the refuge is a popular location for birding and is home to a population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Warren is located on U.S. 63 about 47 miles south from Pine Bluff and 48 miles northeast from El Dorado.
Moro Bay State Park, located about 30 miles southwest of Warren via U.S. 63, has 20 campsites, all with water and electric hook-ups. For campsite reservations, phone (870) 463-8555.