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El Dorado, Arkansas
City of El Dorado
Jefferson Street in downtown El Dorado's Union Square District
Jefferson Street in downtown El Dorado's Union Square District
Location of El Dorado in Union County, Arkansas.
Location of El Dorado in Union County, Arkansas.
El Dorado, Arkansas is located in Arkansas
El Dorado, Arkansas
El Dorado, Arkansas
Location in Arkansas
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Union
Founded 1843
Established May 5, 1870
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Body El Dorado City Council
 • City 16.21 sq mi (41.98 km2)
 • Land 16.20 sq mi (41.96 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Highest elevation
269 ft (82 m)
Lowest elevation
249 ft (76 m)
 • City 17,756
 • Density 1,095.98/sq mi (423.16/km2)
 • Metro
44,170 Arkansas census statistical areas
Demonym(s) El Doradoans
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
71730, 71731, 71768
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-21070
GNIS feature ID 0076861
Highways I-69 (Future).svg
US 63.svg US 82.svg US 167.svg
Arkansas 7.svg Arkansas 15.svg

El Dorado, founded by Matthew Rainey, is a city in, and the county seat of, Union County, on the southern border of Arkansas, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 18,884.

El Dorado is headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission as well as Murphy USA, Deltic Timber Corporation and a DelekUS oil refinery. The city has a nationally-recognized downtown arts district, the Murphy Arts District (MAD); a community college, South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk); and a multi-cultural arts center, South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC). El Dorado is the population, cultural and business center of south central Arkansas.

The city was the heart of the 1920s oil boom in the area. During World War II, it became a center of the chemical industry, which still plays a part in the economy, as do oil and timber. El Dorado is located approximately 120 miles (190 km) from the state capital of Little Rock.


El Dorado is located at 33°12′49″N 92°39′45″W / 33.21361°N 92.66250°W / 33.21361; -92.66250 (33.213521, -92.662553). in Union County, Arkansas in the southern part of the state. Union County is the largest county in the state of Arkansas and borders the state of Louisiana. The area has the unique feature of sharing its border with eight counties and parishes: Ouachita; Calhoun; Bradley; Columbia; Ashley; Claiborne Parish; Union Parish; and Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. El Dorado is the largest urban population center in its region.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.3 square miles (42 km2), of which 16.3 square miles (42 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.31%) is water.


El Dorado is located in the West Gulf Coastal Plain: In Arkansas, the West Gulf Coastal Plain covers the southeastern and south central portions of the state along the border of Louisiana. This Lowland area of Arkansas is characterized by pine forests and farmlands. Natural resources include natural gas, petroleum deposits and beds of bromine flats. The lowest point in the state is found on the Ouachita River in the West Gulf Coastal Plain of Arkansas. El Dorado is located about 28 miles (45 km) to the west of Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, the world's largest green tree reservoir.


El Dorado is located in the humid subtropical zone (Köppen climate classification: Cfa). El Dorado is hot during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 90's and cool during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 50's.

The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 92.70 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 32.90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and moderate during winter with an average difference of 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation at El Dorado is 54.11 inches. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is May with an average rainfall of 5.49 inches.

Climate data for El Dorado
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 50
Average low °F (°C) 31
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.92


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 443
1890 455 2.7%
1900 1,857 308.1%
1910 4,202 126.3%
1920 3,887 −7.5%
1930 16,421 322.5%
1940 15,858 −3.4%
1950 23,076 45.5%
1960 25,292 9.6%
1970 25,283 0.0%
1980 25,270 −0.1%
1990 23,146 −8.4%
2000 21,530 −7.0%
2010 18,884 −12.3%
2020 17,756 −6.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

El Dorado racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 6,868 38.68%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 9,029 50.85%
Native American 34 0.19%
Asian 210 1.18%
Pacific Islander 3 0.02%
Other/Mixed 595 3.35%
Hispanic or Latino 1,017 5.73%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 17,756 people, 7,164 households, and 4,466 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,884 people, 8,969 households, and 5,732 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,323.3 people per square mile (510.9/km2). There were 9,969 housing units at an average density of 607.9 per square mile (234.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 49.9% Black or African American, 45.1% White, 0.30% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,686 households, out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.9% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. Of 8,686 households, 304 are unmarried partner households: 243 heterosexual, 19 same-sex male, and 42 same-sex female. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.3% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,045, and the median income for a family was $34,753. Males had a median income of $30,876 versus $19,211 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,332. About 20.0% of families and 24.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.3% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Parks and recreation

The city offers many outdoor activities and parks in all corners of the city for recreation including tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, golf courses, and walking trails. The city also contains a botanical state park.


  • Bodenhamer Skate Park
  • Bozeman Park
  • Lions Club Park and Golf Course
  • Mattocks Park
  • Mellor Park
  • Mitchell Park
  • Mosby Park
  • Neel Park
  • Old City Park
  • South Side Park

Recreation Complex

El Dorado Recreation Complex and Pavilion has a playground area, multiple baseball/softball facilities and two spacious pavilions. It is home of the El Dorado High School Wildcat Baseball Field and Ladycat Softball Field.

South Arkansas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

The South Arkansas Arboretum is an arboretum and botanical garden owned by the local school system but operated as Arkansas's 50th state park by the South Arkansas Community College. It is located next to the old El Dorado High School on Timberlane street and is open daily except for holidays. Opened in 1965, the arboretum is Arkansas's only state park located within a city. It includes more than two miles (3 km) of paved trails.

Private sports clubs

El Dorado Golf and Country Club

Private golf course. The 18-hole "El Dorado" course at the El Dorado Golf & Country Club facility features 6,449 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 70.2 and it has a slope rating of 116. Designed by Herman Hackbarth, the El Dorado golf course opened in 1925.

El Dorado Racquet Club

Private Club - Accepts Non-Members. 4 stadium-lit outdoor hard surface tennis courts, pro shop, clubhouse, lounge, gym, swimming pools and banquet opportunities.

Memorial Stadium

Memorial Stadium is a fully equipped 6,000-seat football stadium and track, and home of the El Dorado Wildcats. After a major field and stadium renovation in 2010, the stadium features a synthetic turf field by Athletic Surfaces Plus and a video scoreboard. The stadium hosts sports events year round, most notably the Boomtown Classic, an annual college football match between in-state college football rivals.


Performing arts

South Arkansas Arts Center

El Dorado has been a regional center for the performing arts for many years. The South Arkansas Arts Center, or known locally as SAAC, is an independent community-supported nonprofit organization. The mission of the South Arkansas Arts Center in serving the people of the bi-state region is to promote, bridge, facilitate and support the ideas and forms of artistic appreciation, education, ability, confidence and cooperation for all age, cultural, social and racial groups. This 22,500-square-foot (2,090 m2) facility houses three visual art galleries, a ballet studio, a 207-seat theatre, educational classroom space, and an open studio for artists in the community.

SAAC presents a series of eight to twelve contemporary performance events each year on stage and hosts rotating art exhibitions each year of national, regional and local significance in the Merkle, Price, and Lobby art galleries. SAAC also rents its performance facilities to independent groups who present their own programs in the Callaway Theatre, a 207-seat auditorium with a 35-foot (11 m) prosceniums style stage.

Rialto Theater Music Hall

Rialto Theater, El Dorado, AR IMG 2629
Rialto Theater hosts live music events in El Dorado.
Rockabilly guitar replica in El Dorado, AR IMG 2595
El Dorado honors rockabilly music with this downtown exhibit near the courthouse.

Built on the site of an earlier Rialto Theater (1921–1928), the Rialto Theater opened in 1929, with seating for 1,400, originally presenting both live stage shows in addition to films. The Rialto Theater closed in 1980, but was restored in 1987 and reopened once more showing movies, subdivided into 3-screens. The theater closed again in the early 2000s to be renovated into a music hall with performances given weekly by local and touring musical acts and shows.

The Rialto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It has long been rumored to be haunted. Dozens of former employees have reported unexplained footsteps, strange apparitions and even the fleeting scent of a woman’s cologne in an upstairs bathroom. Many supernatural experts and network television teams have spent time at the Rialto.

  • Style: Neo-Classical
  • Function: Movies (First Run), Music Hall, Performances
  • Seats: 1400
  • Chain: Independent
  • Firm: Kolben, Hunter & Boyd
  • NRHP ID#: 86001888

Municipal Auditorium

The historic 1,830 seat El Dorado Municipal Auditorium is a multi-purpose auditorium facility with large lobby, grand hall seating, and multi-tiered sloping balcony. For more than 50 years, Municipal Auditorium has been the mainstay of many musical acts, entertainment shows, school productions, dance recitals and is home to the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1956 as one of the first orchestras in Arkansas, a group of local music lovers formed the El Dorado Symphony and Choral Society. The purpose of the organization was to form a symphony orchestra which would provide an outlet for musicians in the community, especially students of unusual ability. Felix Spooner, string instructor in the local schools, was named the conductor. The first concert was performed in 1957 by a 30 piece orchestra to an audience of the same size. John Shenaut, violinist and conductor of the Shreveport Symphony was guest artist. Interest grew in the orchestra and its mission expanded to fulfill a regional role serving as the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Growth of the orchestra continued under the direction of Dr. Eloy Fominaya, Dr. Joe Barry Mullins, Jimmie Reynolds, Gerald Kiger, Richard Oliver, Dr. Richard Worthington, Alan Burdick, and Kermit Poling. All played an integral part in providing South Arkansas access to high quality artistic music through extensive touring, recording, and community education concerts. All activity benefited the South Arkansas region, both in terms of economic and cultural impact.

Currently, Kermit Poling is fulfilling his 16th year as conductor with Scott Watkins serving as Executive Director. The South Arkansas Symphony performs six to ten concerts per year. This professional orchestra also performs several special events, such as educational performances and the community concert that honors Martin Luther King. The South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is the largest performing arts organization in South Arkansas.

Annual events

El Dorado is the site for several annual events.

Beginning on the first Saturday in May, the Mayhaw Festival is hosted by the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society. The official event name is Bugs Bands & Bikes. It coincides with a crawfish boil, a "Battle of the Bands", a bike show/one day motorcycle rally, a motorcycle parade, pool tournament, and other activities.

In September, the city hosts the SouthArk Outdoor Expo, with outdoor activities and events targeted to anglers, hunters, children, and families.

During the first weekend of October, El Dorado celebrates the two-day MusicFest, a Music Festival which takes up eight city blocks, features over 30 acts on five stages and was named Arkansas Festival & Event Association 'Festival Of The Year' in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Past headliners have included Toby Keith, the Charlie Daniels Band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Tracy Lawrence, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Anderson, Eddie Money, Blues Traveler, Jack Ingram, Joe Nichols, Patrice Pike and Trout Fishing in America.

El Dorado also hosts winter holiday events, including the Festival of Lights and the "largest Christmas parade in Arkansas".

Points of interest

El Dorado Conference Center

El Dorado, AR, Conference Center IMG 2633
New El Dorado Conference Center

Built in 2010 and dedicated in 2011, this $14.4 million, 50,764-square-foot (4,716.1 m2) multi-purpose facility contains a large assembly hall with a capacity for 1,000 banquet style seating and theatre seating for up to 2,500. In addition to the main hall, there are 5 small meeting rooms that are capable of being joined together or separated by moveable walls to allow for many classroom, meeting or training arrangements. A full commercial kitchen facilitates catering and banquet dining. The building houses student services for South Arkansas Community College. This area includes a bookstore, café, meeting rooms, counseling, curriculum and financial advisement, training and testing rooms.

  • Architects: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
  • Contractors: CDI Contractors
  • Size: 50,764 square feet (4,716.1 m2)
  • Total Meeting Rooms / Total Meeting Area: 8 / 14,560 square feet
  • Meeting Space for up to 2,500
  • Murphy Convention Hall and large concourse

Union County Courthouse

The Union County Courthouse was built from 1927 – 28 as a Greek revival by Mann & Stern architects of Little Rock. The original Union County Courthouse, built in 1844 at a cost of $200 stood where Larry's Rexall Drug Store is today. As the county seat, El Dorado quickly outgrew even its second courthouse (built on this site in 1848) in the 1920s due to the oil boom's voluminous deed and title transactions. Faceted in smooth-dressed limestone, the third and current courthouse boasts 40 freestanding ionic exterior columns spanning four stories, and a richly detailed marble two-story atrium with art deco accents. The exterior medallions of the scales of justice and lanterns of light signify the search for truth. The building's largest courtroom features a walnut wainscot, painting and scoring on textured plaster walls to resemble stone, and an ornately detailed plaster cast ceiling of gilded rosettes. Back when the square was flanked by log cabin structures there was a large duck pond on this site. Emigrants camped on its banks. Many pioneer citizens recorded incidents where deer and even bears came to drink – and hunters would frequently bag their dinner by shooting the wild ducks that lit there in the mid-1800. It was filled in under contract by Ben Mathews.

  • Designer: Peterson/Mann & Stern
  • Date: 1928
  • Building Type: Government
  • Construction System: Limestone, Terra Cotta
  • Architectural Style: Greek Revival
  • National Register: 1983
  • NRHP ID Number: 83001169

Other points of interest

  • Courthouse Square (including public artwork)
  • Historic Main Street Pizza
  • Madison Square Shopping Center
  • Murphy Oil Corp. headquarters located in downtown El Dorado
  • Former West and Company department store outlet owned by H. O. West of Minden, Louisiana.
  • Club Anthony
  • The Blue Building



El Dorado is home to one public radio station and seven commercial radio stations which are operated by two ownership groups, Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation, and El Dorado Broadcasting.

El Dorado Broadcasting owns:

  • KLBQ, 98.7 FM also known as Q99. The format is Country.
  • KDMS 1290 AM is a Southern Gospel station.

Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation owns and operates five radio stations:

  • KIXB KIX 103, ([1]) The Country Leader. The format is Country.
  • KMRX Mix 96.1 FM, ([2]) The Continuous Hit Music Station. The format is Contemporary hit radio.
  • KAGL 93.1 FM "The Eagle", ([3]) carries a Classic rock format.
  • KELD AM 1400, "The Fan" ([4]) The format is 24hr Sports Talk.
  • KELD-FM 106.5 FM ([5], licensed to Hampton, Arkansas in Calhoun County. The format is News Talk.
  • KMLK 101.5 FM ([6]) The Touch. The format is Urban Adult Contemporary.

The public radio station is:

  • KBSA 90.9 FM Red River Radio([7]) is a four station public radio network and NPR affiliate based out of Shreveport, LA. As part of the network, KBSA became the first HD Digital Radio broadcaster in the South Arkansas region. The station and network is supported primarily through listener and corporate contributions.

El Dorado is also the home of KAKV, 88.9 FM, an owned and operated affiliate of the K-LOVE radio network.


El Dorado broadcast outlets consist of three full-power television stations; two commercial, and one public.

  • KTVE 10 (NBC)
  • KEJB 43 (MNTV) (inc. 2001)
  • KETZ 12 (PBS) local station of the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) (inc. 2006)

All three transmitters are located east of El Dorado, in Huttig, Arkansas. While KTVE no longer considers El Dorado their primary newsroom, the station is licensed to El Dorado by the FCC. The station moved primary operations to Monroe, Louisiana in 1988.

Over the air HD television programming is currently available for two of the four major networks:

K18AB-D is a translator station of KNOE, the CBS affiliate in Monroe, Louisiana. However, the translator broadcasts KNOE's full HD signal; a major service to the HD viewers in Union County who cannot receive KNOE's main digital signal broadcasting from Columbia, Louisiana; over 75 miles (121 km) away.

Additionally, over the air television programming is also available from KETZ-DT, the AETN/PBS affiliate for El Dorado. Currently, KETZ broadcasts HD programming on channel 12.1, in 720p resolution.

El Dorado is also served by stations broadcast from nearby Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana:

  • KTBS 3 (ABC) - Shreveport


  • KNOE 8 (CBS)
  • KARD 14 (FOX)
  • KMLU 11 (ABC)


El Dorado is also served by the El Dorado News-Times, one of the oldest newspapers in South Arkansas. El Dorado News Times is a daily newspaper covering local news, sports, business, jobs, and community events.

El Dorado News-Times is owned by the Walter E. Hussman Company (WEHCO), owner of the state's largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

  • Circulation: 9,371 copies
  • Published seven days a week
  • This newspaper is owned by Wehco Media Inc.

Schools and education

According to the 2000 Census, 22.5% of the population age 25+ had an associate degree or higher. More than 400 teachers and administrators work to meet the needs of all students regardless of age, ability, or background. Approximately 50 percent of these teachers and administrators hold advanced degrees. More than 4,600 students attend the nine El Dorado public schools in the El Dorado School District #15. A new high school with a 1500-student capacity was completed in June 2011.



There are five elementary schools in the district, divided into academies (K-4) and 1 (K-6):

  • Hugh Goodwin Elementary School of the Arts
  • Murmil Heights learning center
  • Northwest Elementary School of Environment
  • Retta Brown Elementary School of Communication and Technologies
  • Yocum Elementary School of Math and Science


  • Washington Middle School (5-6)
  • Barton Junior High School (7-8)
  • El Dorado High School (9-12)


South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk), is a public two-year institution providing educational programs, services, and resources for students. SouthArk offers degrees and certificates in health sciences, industrial technologies, liberal arts, and business.


West Side Baptist Church, El Dorado, AR IMG 2645
West Side Baptist Church operates a PK-12 grade campus in El Dorado.
  • Maranatha Baptist Christian School (PK-12)
  • West Side Christians School (PK-12)
  • Light Brigade Christian Academy (PK-12)
  • Holy Redeemer School (1925–2005)


Major highways

  • I-69 (Future).svg Future Interstate 69
  • US 63.svg U.S. Highway 63
  • US 82.svg U.S. Highway 82
  • US 167.svg U.S. Highway 167
  • Arkansas 7.svg Highway 7
  • Arkansas 15.svg Highway 15


El Dorado, AR, Chamber of Commerce Bldg. IMG 2592
El Dorado Chamber of Commerce building is located downtown.
Regions Bank, El Dorado, AR IMG 2601
Regions Bank in El Dorado
El Dorado, AR News-Times building IMG 2614
El Dorado News-Times office
El Dorado, AR, Boom Town poster IMG 2620
El Dorado was an oil boom town in the 1920s.

El Dorado has two airports, one commercial and a small general aviation airport, both of which are owned by the city. The South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field offers mostly private aircraft, as well as commercial service via one airline carrier. El Dorado's second airport is located within the city limits and closer to the downtown area. The El Dorado Downtown Airport has flights in and out for local industries, including Fortune 500 oil and gas companies and those who own small private planes have the option to lease or own their own hangar.

The airport was previously serviced by SeaPort Airlines, but flights ceased following SeaPort's liquidation on 20 September 2016. The US Department of Transportation announced 9 December 2016 that a new EAS contract had been awarded to Southern Airways Express to fly 18 weekly round trip non stop flights to Dallas Fort Worth.


El Dorado water is served locally by El Dorado Water Utilities, a private company categorized under Water and Sewage Companies-Utility. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $10 to 20 million and employs a staff of approximately 50 to 99. The electric power is provided by Entergy of Arkansas. Other utility companies serving El Dorado and surrounding areas include Centerpoint Energy (natural gas), Southern Lp-Gas Inc (Liquid Gas), Bcs Inc (Commercial and Residential Bottled Gas, Metered Gas Service), Suddenlink Television (Cable TV, Internet and Phone), Verizon Wireless, AT&T (residential and wireless phone services), among others.

Notable people

See also

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