The southwestern Arkansas town of De Queen was founded along a railroad begun in the late 1880s from Kansas City to Port Arthur, Texas. When an economic depression beginning in 1893 dried up sources of American capital needed for the railway's completion, Arthur Stillwell, who had conceived the idea for the rail line and who was then part owner of the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad, traveled to Holland in 1894 seeking investors for the project.
His effort failing, Stillwell contacted Jan DeGeoijen, a coffee broker he had met on a previous trip to Europe. He convinced DeGeoijen to support the project and in a few months the two managed to raise $3 million.
The town was named in honor of DeGeoijen, but due to pronunciation difficulties among early residents it was altered to the English variation "De Queen." The change subsequently made possible one of Arkansas's, if not the nation's, most agreeably curious newspaper names. The De Queen Bee began publishing in 1897 and continues in operation.
Displayed in the Sevier County Museum in De Queen are a bust of DeGeoijen and an American flag he presented to the mayor's wife when he visited his namesake town in 1927. Other museum highlights include "The 1940s House," which provides visitors with a veritable time-machine experience of that decade, and an Antique Village with some 10 small, replica structures containing related artifacts that are indicative of the buildings and furnishings found in De Queen soon after its 1897 founding.
Fishing, camping and swimming on the "Tri-Lakes" are among the activities enjoyed by area residents and visitors. De Queen, Dierks and Gillham lakes range in size from 1,360 to 1,680 acres and each is home to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' recreation areas with campgrounds. Also located near De Queen is the 27,500-acre Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge.
De Queen is the birthplace of country music singer Collin Raye, a three-time nominee as "male vocalist of the year" by both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music and a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. Raye's Number One country hits have included "Love Me," "Little Rock," and "One Boy, One Girl." Raye continues to perform benefit concerts in De Queen.