Rohwer is an historic community in Desha County located 65 miles southeast of Pine Bluff on the Great Road National Scenic Byway. It was the site of a Japanese American Internment Camp during World War II -- one of two in the state (the other being at nearby Jerome) and 10 in the country (with others being in western states). Today the site where more than 8,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated includes the camp’s cemetery, a series of interpretive panels, and the remains of the camp’s smokestack. Cemetery markers honor former Rohwer internees, including those who served in the U. S. armed forces in Europe, as well as the 442nd Japanese American Unit of the 100th Battalion that distinguished itself in World War II combat. The site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Little existed at Rohwer prior to the camp—undoubtedly a factor in its selection. In 1904, the Iron Mountain railroad (later acquired by the Missouri Pacific) completed a rail line over the Arkansas River from Helena harvest and ship local timber. Several stores opened in Rohwer to support the sawmills and the numerous families farming nearby. The post office, first called Harding, was established in 1907 but later rejected because Arkansas already had a town by that name. It then took the name of the superintendent of railroad construction through the area. Rohwer incorporated in 1913 but never functioned as a municipality.
Today the railroad tracks through Rohwer (and adjacent to the former camp) have been removed as part of a rails-to-trails conversion, with Rohwer as a trailhead for the Delta Heritage Trail State Park.