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A Tour of Arkansas Animal Towns


A few months ago, I shared with you a list of delicious sounding Arkansas town names. These towns with food-related names like Hamburg, Wild Cherry and Pickles were really tasty, but the fun doesn’t stop there. If you have ever taken the time to read the list of town names on an Arkansas map then you know it is full of interesting, unusual and sometimes mind-boggling names. In fact, if you look closely there are a lot of fun themes. Today we are going to take a look at towns that have animal names. Some of these towns are named after a specific animal. Some are named for completely erroneous reasons. All of these towns have a rich and interesting history. Ready to go on a tour? Alpaca my bag and ewe go pack yours!

Birdeye, Arkansas

Birdeye is a small community along the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway. In fact, it was presumably named Birdeye because it was “no bigger than a bird’s eye.” While driving through the town, you could miss it in the ‘blink of a bird’s eye’ if you weren’t careful. Birdeye is home to the beautiful Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

Birdeye Arkansas_State_Veterans_Cemetery_Birdeye_AR_005

By Thomas R Machnitzki CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Monkey Run, Arkansas

Monkey Run, originally named Pilgrim’s Rest, was home to seven zinc mining operations in the 1920s. The reason for and the story behind the name change has been lost to time, but there are at least two possible versions – both concerning a local shopkeeper.

Version one suggests that a group of boys were playing outside of a store and woke the storekeeper from his sleep. In anger, he chased the boys away yelling, “watch the monkeys run!” The second version is similar but in this story the boys refer to the shopkeeper as the monkey saying they will make the “old monkey run and chase us.”

Some years later, a tomato canning company proposed opening a local factory, but only if the town agreed to change its name to Pleasant Valley. The canning company never came and the town name remains Monkey Run.

Possum Grape, Arkansas

Possum Grape also made our list of Arkansas Towns that Spark an Appetite. This town name is funny but has nothing to do with actual possums as it is thought to be named after a common berry that grows in the area.

Arkansas Animal Name signs

Toad Suck, Arkansas

Toad Suck is a tiny, unincorporated town just outside of Conway.  The annual Toad Suck Daze festival held in Conway borrows its name from the tiny community. The festival was originally held in Toad Suck Park with also gets its name from the community.  The community  may have gotten its name from a mistranslation of a French term that meant a “narrow gap in the river.” It may have been because the town folk were known for “sucking on the bottle” until they “swelled up like toads.” Either way it’s a funny and well-known name.

Turkey Scratch, Arkansas

How Turkey Scratch got its name is unknown, but the town is notable because it is home to two different famous musicians. Levon Helm was an American rock musician who was the drummer and lead vocalist for the Band. He also played Loretta Lynn’s father in the film Coal Miners Daughter. Robert Lockwood Jr. was also born in Turkey Scratch in 1915 and went on to become a successful Blues musician after learning how to play the organ in the local church at the age of 9. He was playing professionally at many parties throughout the Helena area by the time he was 15. He released his first recording in July 1941.


“LevonHelmWoodstockNY2004” by Jaime Martorano – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Beaver, Arkansas

While there seems to be no hard evidence – perhaps Beaver got its name because it is surrounded by the White River and Table Rock Lake and is a stronghold similar to a beaver dam. It is known for the Beaver Bridge which is often referred to as the “Little Golden Gate Bridge.” It is also the home of the now defunct theme park, Dinosaur World which had over 100 life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs and cavemen, including the world’s largest King Kong, throughout the 65-acre park. The park closed in 2005.

beaver little golden gate bridge

Colt, Arkansas

Colt is a tiny eastern Arkansas community with less than 400 residents. It was incorporated in 1882 when the Iron Mountain Railroad came through the town and established the Colt Station which was a common stop along the rail line from Fort Smith and Memphis. Local lore maintains that the town was to be named either Colt or Williamsville, both local railroad contractors, and was decided by a coin toss. Colt may be a “one-horse town” now but it was once a thriving community with six general stores, a toy factory, an ax-handle factory, two cotton gins, a school and a doctor’s office. Colt was the birthplace of two-time Grammy-winning country artist Charlie “Silver Fox” Rich. Rich was most known for his 1973 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl.”


Public Domain

Fox, Arkansas

Fox is a tiny little mountain community with a great sense of pride. No one is certain how the town got its name, but several believe it to be named after the animal of the same name that is common in the area. The town of Fox got its 15-minutes of fame in 2011 when the US Postal Service announced its plan to close the town’s post office. The town put together a YouTube Video in effort to persuade the USPS to keep the post office open. The town was featured in a New York Times article and, much in part due to their efforts and pressure from rural communities all around the country, the USPS elected to keep most rural branches open with very limited hours.

Bear, Arkansas

Bear is a tiny community nestled in the Ouachita National Forrest that grew by leaps and bounds in 1884 when it was rumored that there was “gold in them there hills.”  Despite 35 mining companies and as many as 5000 people moving into the town, people fled when the mini gold-rush was exposed as a scam by state geologist John Casper Branner in 1887. The town is named after the nearby Bear Mountain, which was likely named after the bears that frequented the area.

Crow Creek, Arkansas

The Cherokee began migrating into parts of Arkansas in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Many settled in the areas now known as St. Francis and Cross County. It is believed that Crow Creek is named not after the bird but after the Crowtown Cherokee settlement.

Hogeye, Arkansas

Hogeye, located in Washington County just outside of Fayetteville, got its name similar to the way Birdeye, Arkansas got its name. Apparently it “wasn’t any bigger than a hog’s eye.” Presumably it must have been bigger than a bird’s eye.

Other animal towns you may want to check out include Cow Mound, a ghost town in Woodruff County. Deer and Bass are small towns both located in Newton County. Hog Jaw is in Montgomery County and Wolf Bayou is in Cleburne County.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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