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Altus, Arkansas
Action from the 2013 Altus Grape Festival
Action from the 2013 Altus Grape Festival
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Franklin
Area
 • Total 1.8 sq mi (4.7 km2)
 • Land 1.8 sq mi (4.7 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation
541 ft (165 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 758
 • Density 418/sq mi (161.2/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
72821
Area code(s) 479
FIPS code 05-01210
GNIS feature ID 0045850

Altus is a city in Franklin County, Arkansas, United States. Located within the Arkansas River Valley at the edge of the Ozark Mountains, the city is within the Fort Smith metropolitan area. The epicenter of the Altus American Viticultural Area (AVA) within Arkansas Wine Country, the city is home to four wineries. Although founded as a coal mining community, the wine industry has driven the Altus economy since the first vineyards were planted in 1872. The population was 758 at the 2010 census, down from 817 at the 2000 census.

Altus is the site of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (St. Mary's Catholic Church), which is on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1902 and is known for its beautiful paintings, ornate gold leaf walls, and Roman architecture.

History

When the Iron Mountain Railroad laid rails up the Arkansas River Valley in the 1870s from Little Rock to the Oklahoma border at Fort Smith, Altus was the highest point on the track. In recognition of this highest railroad elevation between Little Rock and Fort Smith, the station was originally known as "Summit". The town's initial development was due to railroad efforts encouraging German immigration to settle lands adjacent to the railroad. In 1903, the railroad mainline was shifted to a more favorable alignment along the Arkansas River. The track through Altus was removed in the 1930s, but the railroad station has been preserved as a commercial establishment.

Altus is also the former site of Hendrix College.

Geography

Altus is located in southeastern Franklin County, bordered to the south by the town of Denning. Wiederkehr Village is directly to the north. U.S. Route 64 passes through the center of Altus, leading northwest 5 miles (8 km) to Ozark and east 17 miles (27 km) to Clarksville. The Arkansas River is 3 miles (5 km) to the west.

Altus is south of the Boston Mountains range between the Ozark Mountains to the north and the Ouachita Mountains to the south. The soil type here is generally linker on the hilltops: a sandy loam, slightly acid soil and good for grape growing. Several wineries are located in Altus, and it is the location of the Altus American Viticultural Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), all of it land.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 224
1890 469 109.4%
1900 500 6.6%
1910 659 31.8%
1920 709 7.6%
1930 595 −16.1%
1940 541 −9.1%
1950 431 −20.3%
1960 392 −9.0%
1970 418 6.6%
1980 441 5.5%
1990 433 −1.8%
2000 817 88.7%
2010 758 −7.2%
Est. 2015 730 −3.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
2014 Estimate

As of the census of 2000, there were 817 people, 339 households, and 220 families residing in the city. The population density was 445.2 people per square mile (172.4/km²). There were 372 housing units at an average density of 202.7/sq mi (78.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.80% White, 0.12% Black or African-American, 0.86% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. 2.08% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 339 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.6% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average familiar size was 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,842, and the median income for a family was $29,286. Males had a prime meridian income of $25,000 versus $18,583 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,376. About 19.7% of families and 28.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.8% of those under age 18 and 19.3% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Altus Grape Festival - Local Entertainment I
Live entertainment at the 2013 Grape Festival
See also: Culture of Arkansas

Altus is home to three wineries and the Altus AVA (Chateau aux Arc Winery, Mount Bethel Winery, and Post Familie Winery). The Wiederkehr Winery is located north of Altus in Wiederkehr Village. The annual Spring Gala, Grapefest, Dinner in the Vineyards, and Wineaux Fest are held in Altus each year.

Altus was the location for the first season of the television show The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

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