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Magnolia, Arkansas
Downtown Magnolia
Downtown Magnolia
Motto(s): 
"Discover the Difference"
Location of Magnolia in Columbia County, Arkansas.
Location of Magnolia in Columbia County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Columbia
Government
 • Type Council-Strong Mayor
Area
 • Total 13.27 sq mi (34.37 km2)
 • Land 13.23 sq mi (34.27 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
Elevation
338 ft (103 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 11,162
 • Density 843.62/sq mi (325.73/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
71753-71754
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-43460
GNIS feature ID 0077578

Magnolia is a city in Columbia County, Arkansas, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 11,577. The city is the county seat of Columbia County.

Magnolia is home to the World's Largest Charcoal Grill and the World Championship Steak Cookoff, part of the Magnolia Blossom Festival.

History

The city was founded in 1853. At the time of its incorporation in 1858, the city had a population of about 1,950. The city grew slowly as an agricultural and regional cotton market until the discovery of oil just east of the city in March 1938, with the Barnett #1 drilled by the Kerr-Lynn Company. The Magnolia Oil Field was an important discovery, not just for the city but for the nation, as it was the largest producing field (in volume) during the early years of World War II, helping to fuel the American war effort.

In March 2013 more than 5,000 barrels of oil leaked from a Lion Oil Trading & Transportation storage tank in Magnolia, with some flowing into a bayou.

Geography

Magnolia is located in southwest Arkansas, north of the center of Columbia County at 33°16′27″N 93°14′1″W / 33.27417°N 93.23361°W / 33.27417; -93.23361 (33.274052, -93.233477). The average altitude is 336 ft (102 m) above sea level according to NOAA. The surrounding region is a mix of dense forest, farm prairies, and low rolling hills.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.3 square miles (34.4 km2), of which 0.027 square miles (0.07 km2), or 0.21%, is water.

Magnolia is located about 50 miles (80 km) east of Texarkana, about 135 miles (217 km) south of Little Rock, and about 75 miles (121 km) northeast of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Climate

The average temperature is 64 °F (18 °C), and the average annual rainfall is 50.3 inches (1,280 mm). The winters are mild but can dip into the teens at night and have highs in the 30s and even some 20s but average out around 50. The springs are warm and can be stormy with strong to severe storms and average highs in the mid 70s. Summers are often hot, humid and dry but with occasional isolated afternoon storms, highs in the mid to upper 90s and even 100s. In the fall the temps cool from the 90s and 100s to 80s and 70s. Early fall temps are usually in the 80s but can reach 90s and at times has reached 100. Late fall temps fall to 70s and 60s. It is not uncommon to see snow and ice during the winter. It has been known to snow a few times as late as April and as early as November in Magnolia.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 424
1870 259 −38.9%
1880 536 106.9%
1890 1,486 177.2%
1900 1,614 8.6%
1910 2,045 26.7%
1920 2,158 5.5%
1930 3,008 39.4%
1940 4,326 43.8%
1950 6,918 59.9%
1960 10,651 54.0%
1970 11,303 6.1%
1980 11,909 5.4%
1990 11,151 −6.4%
2000 10,858 −2.6%
2010 11,577 6.6%
2020 11,162 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Magnolia racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 5,586 50.04%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 4,568 40.92%
Native American 30 0.27%
Asian 148 1.33%
Other/Mixed 351 3.14%
Hispanic or Latino 479 4.29%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 11,162 people, 3,935 households, and 2,338 families residing in the city.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Magnolia is home to the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cookoff. The festival has been featured on the Food Network and attracts 40,000-plus to the event.

The Festival of Lights is held from late November through Late December.

Museums and other points of interest

Magnolia is known locally for its downtown shopping on the square and for its natural beauty. The downtown is known for its murals, one of which was signed by Charlton Heston.

Animal shelter rescue

The city operated a shelter designed for approximately 20 dogs. On August 14, 2014, this facility was found to have 59 dogs in unclean conditions, without heat, air conditioning or even walls for the animals. With the city's permission, the local H&P Animal Allliance assisted in removing the dogs from the over-crowded shelter.

A number of dogs were sent to an out-of-state animal rescue group specializing in saving large-breed working dogs, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue. Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is a Nashville, Tennessee-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The rescue effort cost an uncompensated $50,000.

Photo gallery

Annexation

On January 12, 2007, Magnolia annexed 2,325 acres (9.41 km2) east of the city, which includes approximately 1,100 people, increasing the population to 11,578. The city was expected to receive between $60,000 to $70,000 in state turnbacks per year as a result.


Economy

Magnolia when it was founded was a cotton, farm production, and marketing town. Slowly the town grew, and in 1909 the Third District Agricultural School, subsequently known as Magnolia A&M and Southern State College, now known as Southern Arkansas University, was founded. During World War II Magnolia became a heavy manufacturing city. In 1938 oil and natural gas were discovered near the city in what was called the Magnolia Oil Field, the largest producing field by volume in the nation during the war. The city soon became a producer in steel, lumber, aluminum, bromine, rubber-coated products and fuel cells for the military.

The town's primary economic focus is heavy industrial, including Albemarle Corporation's Bromine Products Division (which has two facilities near town), Amfuel (which produces fuel cells for the military), and Sapa Group's extruded aluminum products facility. Also located in the area are several oil and brine drilling companies, many of which are locally owned, and timber companies, such as Deltic and Weyerhaeuser.

Major industrial employers: SAPA (750), Albemarle (739), Amfuel (380), CMC (344), Weyerhaeuser (250), Deltic Timber (125), Partee Flooring (95), and Southern Aluminum (90).

Largest non-manufacturing employers:

  • Magnolia Public School System, 346
  • Southern Arkansas University, 304
  • Magnolia Hospital, 253
  • Columbia County government, 110

The unemployment rate in Magnolia is 9.40%, with job growth of -0.40%. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 29.70%, according to Sterling's, The U.S. unemployment rate average for the month of June is 9.2%, Arkansas' average is 7.2%.

Education

Public and private schools

Public schools in the Magnolia School District include:

  • Walker Pre-K Center (PK)
  • Magnolia Eastside Elementary (K-3)
  • Magnolia Central Elementary (4-6)
  • Magnolia Junior High School (7-9)
  • Magnolia High School (10-12)

Private schools in Magnolia include:

  • Columbia Christian School

Magnolia High School is known for its boys' track teams and baseball program. The track team has won the State Championship five out of the last six years. The Panther baseball team was crowned State Champions in 2011 and have won four straight conference titles. The Magnolia Panthers compete in the Arkansas Activities Association 5A-Southwest conference.

Since 1999 Magnolia High School graduates have received well over $1 million in college scholarship money each year, with the class of 2008 being first to reach $2 million in scholarship offers.

Graduation rates for the city are: High school or higher, 75.4%; Bachelor's degree or higher, 24.1%; Graduate or professional degree, 7.0%.

Colleges and universities

Magnolia is the home of Southern Arkansas University, a public university that offers four-year and advanced (Master's level) degrees in business, public administration, computer information systems, education, counseling, education administration, and criminal justice. With an enrollment of 4,771, its most notable programs are agriculture, business, and education. The university's cultural focus is Harton Theatre, which provides a venue for both departmental plays, concerts, and local cultural events.

Infrastructure

Airport

Magnolia Municipal Airport is a city-owned, public-use airport located three nautical miles (6 km) southeast of the central business district of Magnolia.

Highways

  • US 82.svg U.S. Highway 82
  • US 79.svg U.S. Highway 79
  • US 371.svg U.S. Highway 371
  • Arkansas 19.svg Arkansas Highway 19
  • Arkansas 355.svg Arkansas Highway 355
  • US 82B.svg U.S. Highway 82 Business
  • US 79B.svg U.S. Highway 79 Business

Notable people

  • Harvey C. Couch (1877-1941), Arkansas entrepreneur who controlled a regional utility and railroad empire; raised in Magnolia
  • Billy Joe Daugherty (1952–2009), founder and pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Roy Green, former wide receiver in the National Football League who played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1979–1987), Phoenix Cardinals (1988–1990) and Philadelphia Eagles (1991–1992); born in Magnolia
  • Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author who writes what are referred to as the Sookie Stackhouse novels collected in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, the basis for the HBO show True Blood; lived in Magnolia
  • Lane Jean (born c. 1959), former mayor of Magnolia and current Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Columbia, Lafayette, and Miller counties
  • Andrew R. Johnson (1856–1933), Louisiana state senator from 1916–1924 and mayor of Homer; taught school near Magnolia in the 1890s
  • Royce L. McMahen, veterinarian from Springhill, Louisiana; sheriff of Webster Parish from 1980 to 1996, born in Magnolia in 1923; died 1999
  • Sidney Sanders McMath (1912-2003), governor of Arkansas (1949-1953), Major General, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve (1965-1970) & leading U.S. trial lawyer.
  • Mike Runnels (1945-2015), Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico
  • Horace M. Wade, former U.S. Air Force general, served as chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, vice-chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; born in Magnolia 1916; died 2001.
  • Carl Wafer, former defensive end in the National Football League who played for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers in 1974; born in Magnolia

Dennis Biddle is a former Negro League professional baseball player who played for the Chicago American Giants. Biddle is most known for making his debut in 1953 as the Giants' pitcher when he was only 17 years old, and was the youngest player ever to play in a Negro baseball league game.

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