Landscapes around Earle may look familiar because many were the subjects of artist Carroll Cloar paintings. Cloar (1933-1993), a nationally known 20th century artist, painted in such places as New York, Mexico, and Central and South America. Ultimately, however, he came back home to Earle to capture his childhood memories and the people and places familiar to him while growing up.
The subject of several Cloar paintings and drawings was the George Berry Washington monument, known locally as the “Angel in the Field.” Erected by his widow and family in 1928, the towering funerary statue is on property he called his “Main Place.” It memorializes Washington, who began life as a slave and became a prosperous businessman, landowner, and minister in Crittenden County.
From its formal incorporation in 1905 until around 1940, Earle was the largest city in Crittenden County. It boasted a semiprofessional baseball team established in 1908, and an Earle Cardinals professional basketball team, starting in the 1920s, that brought national acclaim.
Earle is on U.S. Highway 64 near the Cross County line, 22 miles northwest of West Memphis and 55 miles southeast of Jonesboro and is a spur off the main Great River Road National Scenic Byway. It was named for English-born Josiah Francis Earle, who had land holdings in the area. When the railroad came through in 1888, his widow built a small depot in his name to entice trains to stop. The current depot, built in 1922, was abandoned in the 1960s and now serves as the Crittenden County Museum.