Paragould is located approximately 150 miles northeast of Little Rock and 80 miles northwest of West Memphis.
Situated atop Crowley’s Ridge and located along the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway, Paragould was incorporated in 1883 and derived its name from two railroad officials – James A. Paramore of the Texas-St. Louis Railroad and Jay Gould of the Iron Mountain Railroad.
In the 1870s, Gould and Paramore built competing railroad lines that ran from Greene County; Paramore’s line would link Arkansas to Texas and Gould’s ran south to Helena. A community formed at the crossing of the two railroads. When the town was granted a post office, the postmaster gave it the name Paragould, combining the names of the two railroad men. Paragould is the only place in the world known to have the moniker.
Paragould soon became a thriving community, partially due to the abundance of hardwood forests that surrounded the area. By 1890, Paragould was home to 14 lumber mills. By the beginning of the 20th century, the town was one of the main centers of business in northeast Arkansas. By the end of 1910, Paragould boasted six banks, three department stores, a hospital and an opera house.
The town is located along Davidson’s Approach, a movement of U.S. General John Wynn Davidson’s troops during the 1863 Little Rock Campaign, and U.S. General Frederick Steele’s movement during the second phase of the Pea Ridge Campaign. These along with other historic Civil War routes and significant movements as the Trail of Tears and the Southwest Trail, are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System.
In February 1930, Paragould residents were awakened one morning by a long, loud noise. The sky was aglow. A meteorite had struck four miles southwest of the town. Two major fragments of the galactic stone were later found. One weighed in at 75 pounds and the other tipped the scales at an impressive 820 pounds.
Six years later, another “visitor” made an appearance near Paragould. Two men were fishing near Hurricane Creek when they discovered a three-and-a-half-foot long bone buried deep in the sand. Over the next three weeks, the men continuously dug for more bones. Scientists soon determined the men had uncovered the bones of a 10,000-year-old mastodon.
Paragould is a Main Street community and the downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town is home to many annual events and festivals, including the Loose Caboose Festival held the third weekend of May. Paragould is also home to Crowley’s Ridge State Park, one of the oldest of the state’s 52 state parks.