The Tri-Lakes of South Arkansas
Dierks Lake was formed after the 1975 completion by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of a dam across the Saline River in southwestern Arkansas. Located on the 1,360-acre lake are Corps of Engineers recreation areas offering campsites, boat ramps and swimming areas.The lake is best known among anglers for its
largemouth bass, but fishing for crappie, bream and catfish is also good.
DeQueen Lake was created following the 1977 completion of a dam on the Rolling Fork River. Its surface covers 1,680 acres
with a shoreline length of 32 miles. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recreation areas on the lake offer campsites, boat ramps, swimming areas, fish-cleaning stations, picnic sites and other recreational facilities.
At the crystal-clear lake visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, skiing, scuba diving, picnicking, camping, hiking and hunting. All of the scenic shoreline is publicly owned so boaters are free to go ashore where they wish. Anglers come to the lake in search of its largemouth, spotted and hybrid striped bass, crappie, walleye, bream and catfish.
Gillham Lake was created in Southwest Arkansas following the 1975 completion of a dam on the Cossatot River. The 1,370-acre reservoir, located in Howard and Polk counties, features U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recreation areas that include some campsites, boat ramps, swimming areas, picnic sites and other recreational facilities.
The lake is best known among anglers for its largemouth bass, but fishing for crappie, bream, and catfish is also good.
The southwestern Arkansas town of De Queen is within a short distance of all the lakes. The town 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 “DeQueen.” 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 Historical Society Museumin 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. Also located near De Queen is the 27,500-acre Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Above photo by James West.