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Blytheville, Arkansas
—  City  —
Location in Mississippi County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 35°55′51″N 89°54′50″W / 35.93083, -89.91389Coordinates: 35°55′51″N 89°54′50″W / 35.93083, -89.91389
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Mississippi
 • Mayor James Sanders
 • Total 20.7 sq mi (53.5 km2)
 • Land 20.6 sq mi (53.3 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 256 ft (78 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 15,620
 • Density 887.2/sq mi (342.6/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 72315, 72316, 72319
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-07330
GNIS feature ID 0057402

That Bookstore in Blytheville is reputedly one of John Grisham's favorites

The Greyhound Bus Station is one of eight sites in Blytheville listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Blytheville is the largest city in Mississippi County, Arkansas, United States, and one of the two county seats.[1] Blytheville is approximately 60 miles north of West Memphis. The population was 18,272 at the 2000 census.


Blytheville was founded by Methodist clergyman Henry T. Blythe in 1879. It received a post office in 1879, was incorporated in 1889, and became the county seat for the northern half of Mississippi County (Chickasawba District) in 1901. Blytheville received telephone service and electricity in 1903, and natural gas service in 1950.[2]

Forestry was an early industry, spurred by the massive harvesting of lumber needed to rebuild Chicago following the Great Fire of 1871. The lumber industry brought sawmills and a rowdy crowd, and the area was known for its disreputable saloon culture during the 1880s and 1890s.[2]

The cleared forests enabled cotton farming to take hold, encouraged by ongoing levee building and waterway management; the population grew significantly after 1900. On Blytheville’s western edge lies one of the largest cotton gins in North America, and soybeans and rice have also become important crops.[2]

The area around Blytheville continues to be farmed, though family farms have given way to large factory operations.[2]

In the 1980s, Blytheville began to develop an industrial base, much of which centered around the steel industry.

Until 1991, Blytheville was home to Blytheville Air Force Base (later renamed Eaker Air Force Base), a major airfield that was part of the Strategic Air Command.

James Sanders is Blytheville's mayor, and the first African-American to serve in that position.

Notable employers[]

Nucor, a large steel manufacturer, operates two facilities east of the town near the Mississippi River.

Aviation Repair Technologies (ART) is headquartered at Arkansas International Airport in Blytheville and employs approximately 120 employees. It performs heavy aircraft maintenance, aircraft engine disassembly, aircraft disassembly, and aircraft storage. Its aircraft repair services are focused on turboprop, regional jet, and narrowbody aircraft such as the ATR 42, ATR 72, Dash 8, Q400, ERJ, CRJ, MD80 and 737. Its engine tear down operation specializes in CFM56, CF6-80, and CF6-50 engine types.[3]

Tenaris, a global manufacturer and supplier of seamless and welded steel pipe products, operates 4 ERW (electric resistance welded) pipe manufacturing, threading and coating facilities.

Notable people[]

  • Fred Akers, football coach for the University of Texas Longhorns and Purdue Boilermakers; a Blytheville native.
  • Lawrence Babits, archaeologist.
  • Mark Biviano, Republican state representative from White County; born in Blytheville in 1960
  • M. C. Burton, Jr., professional basketball player and medical doctor.
  • R&B singer Dee Clark, known for his 1961 hit "Raindrops," was a native of Blytheville.
  • Marvin Childers, state representative from Mississippi County from 2001 to 2006; attorney and lobbyist in Little Rock, formerly practiced in Blytheville
  • Kimberly Derrick, short track speed skater and Olympic bronze medal winner.
  • Mad Magazine editor Al Feldstein, who was stationed in Blytheville during World War II, later wrote a science fiction story set in Blytheville entitle "Chewed Out", for Weird Science.
  • Actor George Hamilton, grandson of Blytheville physician C.C. Stevens, spent his boyhood in Blytheville. His mother is buried in Blytheville.
  • Eric Hill, professional football player.
  • Nannerl O. Keohane, former president of Duke University was born in Blytheville.
  • Edgar H. Lloyd, WWII Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Rebecca McCall, 1946 Miss Arkansas.
  • Bill Michael, head football coach at University of Texas at El Paso from 1977 to 1981.
  • The Honorable Sarah Day Smith, born and raised in Blytheville, is now a family court judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[4]
  • Jermey Parnell, football player.
  • Cecil A. Partee, Chicago Treasurer for three terms and the first African-American to serve both as President of the Illinois State Senate and Cook County's State Attorney.
  • Jeff Taylor, professional basketball player.
  • Trent Tomlinson, country music artist.
  • Michael Utley, award-winning composer, singer and longtime member of Jimmy Buffetts Coral Reefer Band and Club Trini. Graduate of Blytheville High School.
  • Junior Walker, R&B singer.
  • Kathy Webb, member of Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • Barry Williamson, Chairman of Texas Railroad Commission.
  • Jon Woods, Arkansas State Senator and musician; spent part of his childhood in Blytheville.


Blytheville Public Schools serves the city. The schools include:

  • Blytheville Primary School
  • Central Elementary School
  • Blytheville Intermediate School
  • Blytheville Middle School
  • Blytheville High School
  • Blytheville Charter School

The community is also served by Armorel Public Schools, Gosnell Public Schools and KIPP: Blytheville Charter School.

Blytheville is home to Arkansas Northeastern College (formerly Mississippi County Community College until its merger with Cotton Boll Technical Institute). It offers a two-year program, and is the nation's first community college with a solar photovoltaic prototype facility.


Blytheville is situated along the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Blytheville is located at 35°55′51″N 89°54′50″W / 35.93083, -89.91389 (35.930735, -89.913940).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.6 square miles (53 km2), of which 20.6 square miles (53 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.29%) is water.

List Of Highways:

  • I-55 (AR).svg Interstate 55
  • US 61.svg U.S. Route 61
  • Arkansas 18.svg Highway 18
  • Arkansas 137.svg Highway 137
  • Arkansas 151.svg Highway 151
  • Arkansas 239.svg Highway 239
  • Arkansas 239S.svg Highway 239 Spur


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 302
1910 3,849 1,174.5%
1920 6,447 67.5%
1930 10,098 56.6%
1940 10,652 5.5%
1950 16,234 52.4%
1960 20,797 28.1%
1970 24,752 19.0%
1980 23,844 −3.7%
1990 22,906 −3.9%
2000 18,272 −20.2%

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 18,272 people, 7,001 households, and 4,746 families residing in the city. The population density was 887.5 people per square mile (342.6/km²). There were 8,533 housing units at an average density of 414.5 per square mile (160.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 45.15% White, 52.15% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 1.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.31% of the population.

There were 7,001 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.3% were married couples living together, 20.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.9% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 86.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,683, and the median income for a family was $32,816. Males had a median income of $30,889 versus $20,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,426. About 23.3% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.2% of those under age 18 and 17.4% of those age 65 or over.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Blytheville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[7]


Further reading[]

External links[]

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