The central Arkansas community Bryant bears the distinction of surrounding the geographical center of the state. A historical marker on Ark. 5 next to Pinecrest Cemetery in Saline County marks the spot.
“Geographical Center of Arkansas is a Few Steps North of This Highway”
Erected by the Arkansas Society Daughters of the American Colonists
Arkansas Centennial 1936”
Early residents of the town were pioneers of European descent traveling through the area on their way to Texas. When they came to Hurricane Creek, it was too high for crossing so they camped for several days while waiting for the waters to recede. As they explored the area, they fell in love with the scenic beauty of the forests and decided to stay.
During the Civil War in September 1863, Little Rock fell to Union forces making the area south of the Arkansas River prime territory. On October 23, 1864, a detachment of the 7th Army Corps was returning to Little Rock after pillaging a Confederate arsenal at Princeton in Dallas County. Logan’s 11th Arkansas Cavalry of the Confederate States of America attacked one mile southeast of the spot. The ensuring Battle of Hurricane Creek took place at the creek crossing of the Old Camden Road with 28 men killed, 11 wounded and one captured. Today a historical marker commemorating the battle is located on Ark. 183 at Bryant Cemetery.
Bryant, like many Arkansas towns, depended on the railroad for its beginnings. In 1871 during Reconstruction (1865-1877), the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad began working on a line from Little Rock, completing it in 1973. Many businesses, including a canning factory, began to move to town and prosper because of the railroad. The Bryant Township was created in 1878, becoming the first time the name “Bryant” was officially used. Prior to this, it was a part of the Owen Township. Continued growth led to Bryant becoming an incorporated town on October 29, 1892.
The mining boon at nearby Bauxite during World War II led to another period of growth after a decline in population from 1910 into the 1930s. The town’s population went from 173 to 387 between 1940 and 1950.
In the 1950s, Bryant became a prime location on the first stretch of interstate in Arkansas: Interstate 30 from Little Rock southwest to Texarkana. Much like the railroad decades before, the highway led to an increase in population.
Today, Bryant is a fast-growing community approximately 20 miles southwest of Little Rock in Saline County.