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Blytheville, Arkansas
Blytheville City Park Blytheville AR 008.jpg
Location of Blytheville in Mississippi County, Arkansas.
Location of Blytheville in Mississippi County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Mississippi
 • Total 20.80 sq mi (53.87 km2)
 • Land 20.74 sq mi (53.71 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.16 km2)
256 ft (78 m)
 • Total 13,406
 • Density 646.45/sq mi (249.60/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
72315, 72316, 72319
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-07330
GNIS feature ID 0057402

Blytheville is the county seat and the largest city in Mississippi County, Arkansas, United States. Blytheville is approximately 60 miles (100 km) north of West Memphis. The population was 15,620 at the 2010 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.

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.

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.

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

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


Historical population
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%
2010 15,620 −14.5%
2020 13,406 −14.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Blytheville Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 4,175 31.14%
Black or African American 8,044 60.0%
Native American 27 0.2%
Asian 112 0.84%
Pacific Islander 3 0.02%
Other/Mixed 503 3.75%
Hispanic or Latino 542 4.04%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 13,406 people, 5,674 households, and 3,644 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,620 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 55.9% Black, 38.8% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% from some other race and 1.2% from two or more races. 3.0% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.


Blytheville is situated along the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Blytheville is located at 35°55′51″N 89°54′50″W / 35.93083°N 89.91389°W / 35.93083; -89.91389 (35.930735, -89.913940). It is the easternmost settlement in the state of Arkansas.

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


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.


Blytheville Public Schools serves the majority of the city. The schools include:

  • Blytheville Primary School (K-2)
  • Blytheville Elementary School (3-5)
  • Blytheville Middle School (6-8)
  • Blytheville High School (9-12)

Other portions of the city limits are zoned to Armorel Public Schools and Gosnell Public Schools. In addition KIPP Delta operates the KIPP Delta Blytheville Charter School.

A Catholic school, Immaculate Conception School, operated in Blytheville until its 2007 closure.

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.

That Bookstore in Blytheville is reputedly one of John Grisham's favorites
Blytheville Greyhound Bus Station
The Greyhound Bus Station is one of eight sites in Blytheville listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Notable people

  • Julie Adams, film and television actress; grew up in Blytheville.
  • 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.
  • Marvin Childers, state representative from Mississippi County from 2001 to 2006; attorney and lobbyist in Little Rock, formerly practiced in Blytheville
  • R&B singer Dee Clark, known for his 1961 hit "Raindrops," was a native of 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 entitled "Chewed Out", for Weird Science.
  • Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University since 2000.
  • 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, was born in Blytheville.
  • Edgar H. Lloyd, WWII Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Bill Michael, head football coach at UTEP from 1977 to 1981.
  • 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.
  • Whiquitta Tobar, former college basketball player and lawyer
  • Trent Tomlinson, country music artist.
  • Michael Utley, award-winning composer, singer and longtime member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band and Club Trini; graduate of Blytheville High School.
  • Junior Walker, R&B singer and saxophonist
  • Kathy Webb, member of Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • Barry Williamson, Chairman of Texas Railroad Commission.
  • Ruth Whitaker, Arkansas State Senator
  • Jon Woods, Arkansas State Senator and musician; spent part of his childhood in Blytheville.
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