Dermott is located about 70 miles southeast of Pine Bluff in Chicot County and is just off the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. It was settled in 1844 by Dr. Charles McDermott, for whom the town is named. McDermott was a man of many talents. He practiced medicine, invented a cotton picker and a flying machine (before the Wright Brothers!), and owned a large tract of land with a huge family home where he reared orphans and his own large family.
After incorporation in 1890, Dermott grew rapidly in population and industry. Progress slowed, however, after the Flood of 1927 destroyed many downtown buildings and homes, followed by a drought that burned up crops. Though many small businesses did not survive the Great Depression, the town prevailed. It continued to thrive during World War II, when Camp Dermott opened to house German POWs. Though the population dropped when U. S. Highway 65 bypassed Dermott, it remains a proud community populated by many descendants of early settlers.
Wide, tree-lined streets are one of Dermott’s main attractions. Oak trees were planted along the main thoroughfares in the 1890s, and today a swamp chestnut oak on West Gaines Street is the second largest of its kind in the state. Local lore has it that General Zachary Taylor, later U. S. President Taylor, stopped to rest under this tree in the 1830s while surveying a route for the Indian Removal. When he left, he marked it with his ax, leading residents to name it the Zachary Taylor tree.
The town’s heritage is celebrated through a local museum, and the Dermott Community Festival (Crawfish Festival) has been held annually in May since the 1980s.