Making a State

Arkansas State Capitol

Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock

How and when did Arkansas become a state? Follow the Arkansas history timeline below to learn about the beginnings of The Natural State, from primitive settlement to thriving vacation destination.

Historic Arkansas & Arkansas Post History

The Arkansas history timeline begins around 1686, when Frenchmen established the first European settlement on the lower Mississippi. Located near the Arkansas River, it was known as Arkansas Post. The area became American soil in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Lone cabins, then towns began appearing at scattered points along the rivers and Native American trails that were the main wilderness travel routes. Among early settlements were Cadron, Batesville and Washington, which later became a gathering place for those seeking to free Texas from Mexico.

Historic Arkansas Changes Capitols

In 1819, Arkansas became a territory with Arkansas Post as its capital. Two years later, the capital was moved to a central location, the fledgling settlement of Little Rock.

Travel became easier as roads were built, steamboats began traveling the state's larger rivers and new stagecoach lines were established with inns on their routes. Among early commercial concerns were sawmills and grist mills.

Historic Arkansas Becomes a State

When did Arkansas become a state? The state of Arkansas was established in 1836, becoming, the 25th state with a population of just over 50,000.

Prior to the Civil War, most Arkansans were small-scale farmers, but large plantations existed in the Mississippi Delta below Helena, in the Arkansas River Valley and in the bottomlands along smaller rivers.

Arkansas railroads, delayed by the war, began in the 1870s to spur the building of new towns and to hasten the harvest of the state's virgin forests. Lumber emerged as an economic mainstay, while the cleared land in the Delta region enabled a major agricultural expansion.

Explore our state, county and local museums - many listed in the regional sections of "Attractions, Lodging & Dining Section" -- to learn more about Arkansas's pioneers and early development of historic Arkansas.