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Mena, Arkansas
Polk County Courthouse in Mena
Polk County Courthouse in Mena
"Where good things happen!"
Location of Mena in Polk County, Arkansas.
Location of Mena in Polk County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Polk
 • Total 6.93 sq mi (17.96 km2)
 • Land 6.89 sq mi (17.84 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
1,171 ft (357 m)
 • Total 5,589
 • Density 811.29/sq mi (313.26/km2)
Time zone UTC−06:00 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 479
FIPS code 05-45170
Website City of Mena Arkansas

Mena ( MEE-nə) is a city in Polk County, Arkansas, United States. It is also the county seat of Polk County. The population was 5,558 as of the 2020 census. Mena is included in the Ark-La-Tex socio-economic region. Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, Mena is a gateway to some of the most visited tourist attractions in Arkansas.


Mena, Arkansas -1907
Mena, 1907
Mountain Fork Bridge
The Mountain Fork Bridge is one of 14 sites in Mena listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Railroad Depot, Mena, Arkansas
Depot in Mena

Mena was founded by Arthur Edward Stilwell during the building of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (now the Kansas City Southern), which stretched from Kansas City, Missouri to Port Arthur, Texas. Train service to Mena began in 1896.

Stilwell named the town in honor of Folmina Margaretha Janssen-De Goeijen, the wife of his friend and financier Jan De Goeijen, whom Mr. De Goeijen affectionately called Mena. Janssen Park in the center of Mena is also named for her.

Mena was settled in 1896, and incorporated on September 18, 1896.

In 1897, the Bank of Mena was founded. The following year, the county seat was moved from nearby Dallas, Arkansas to Mena.

Mena's population had grown to 3,423 by 1900.

The town's main industries were timber, agriculture and mineral extraction, though it was advertised as a spa city located within a healthy environment.

Stilwell donated land to the city in 1906, and a park and campground were constructed.

In 1910, the railroad moved its shop facilities from Mena to Heavener, Oklahoma, causing a loss of 800 jobs.

A private school in Mena, Hendrix Academy, closed in 1905.

In 1911, a damaging tornado struck the town.

Sundown town

A black community called Little Africa developed on Board Camp Creek east of Mena. The community was small, with a population of 152 in 1900.

In 1901, a black man there was killed after an alleged altercation with a white girl. No one was arrested for the crime. Several other instances of racially motivated hate and violence towards Mena's black community had been noted. This, combined with declining job prospects after the railway shops left town, led many blacks to leave Mena. By 1910, just 16 remained.

Recent history

In the 1950s, a government program to stockpile manganese led to the reopening of local mines closed since the 1890s. The program ended in 1959, and the mines again closed.

During the 1980s, drug smuggler Barry Seal moved his operations to the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, where he owned and operated many planes and helicopters, as well as advanced radar equipment.

On April 9, 2009, a large and violent tornado devastated the town, killing three and injuring 30. Many homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. The Arkansas National Guard was deployed to the affected area. The tornado was rated as a high-end EF3, with winds near 165 mph (266 km/h), and damages estimated at $25 million.

Some of the businesses in the creative economy are working to create a Downtown Arts District in Mena, anchored by the Mena Art Gallery at 607 Mena Street. The gallery is a non-profit organization which exhibits about 12 shows a year ranging from invitational (a well-known artist is invited to display his or her work in the gallery for approximately 30 days) to open shows featuring primarily local artists in a variety of media. There is also an annual Children's Exhibit and a High School Exhibit. Admission is free. The gallery has one part-time director and is staffed primarily by volunteers.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.8 square miles (18 km2), of which 6.7 square miles (17 km2) is land; 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.44%) is water.


Mena's climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters, with precipitation occurring in all seasons. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfa" (Humid Subtropical Climate).

Climate data for Mena, Arkansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 11
Average low °C (°F) 0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 110
Average snowfall cm (inches) 3.3
Source: Weatherbase


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 3,423
1910 3,953 15.5%
1920 3,441 −13.0%
1930 3,118 −9.4%
1940 3,510 12.6%
1950 4,445 26.6%
1960 4,388 −1.3%
1970 4,530 3.2%
1980 5,154 13.8%
1990 5,475 6.2%
2000 5,637 3.0%
2010 5,737 1.8%
2020 5,589 −2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Mena racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 4,692 83.95%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 14 0.25%
Native American 95 1.7%
Asian 62 1.11%
Pacific Islander 4 0.07%
Other/Mixed 423 7.57%
Hispanic or Latino 299 5.35%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 5,589 people, 2,341 households, and 1,420 families residing in the city.

Parks and recreation

Cossatot River Arkansas
The Cossatot River begins in the Ouachita Mountains and runs southeast of Mena through Polk County.

An estimated 1.2 million visitors each year come to Mena to enjoy its nearby natural features, which include the Talimena Scenic Drive, a National Scenic Byway, and the Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The Cossatot River is included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and runs through the Ouachita National Forest. Lake Ouachita, and the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness, are also nearby.

Camp Pioneer is 163 acres (0.66 km2) Boy Scout camp in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains east of Mena. Camp High Point, a Girl Scout camp is also in the area.

Mena is home of the Mena Gaming Association charity youth organization, founded in 2003.

In popular culture

In 1996, Patrick Matrisciana, founder of Jeremiah Films and an organization called Citizens for an Honest Government, produced Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection.


Elementary and secondary education

Public education for elementary and secondary school students is available from two school districts:

  • Mena School District, which includes Mena High School.
  • Ouachita River School District, which includes Acorn High School in Acorn; it was recognized as a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
    • Previously that section of Mena was in the Acorn School District. The Ouachita River School District was established by the merger of the Acorn School District and the Oden School District on July 1, 2004.

Post-secondary education

  • Commonwealth College was once located at the base of Rich Mountain and was known for its ties to socialism, as well as for being the one-time college of Orval Faubus, former Governor of Arkansas.
  • Rich Mountain Community College is located in Mena. In 2015, RMCC was accepted into the University of Arkansas network. The two year post secondary institution is now known as UA Rich Mountain.


US 59 and US 71 in Mena, Arkansas
Highway in Mena


  • The city is served by Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport.


  • Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative is a non-profit rural electric utility cooperative headquartered in Mena.
  • Within the city limits, electricity is provided by the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO).

Notable people

  • Nate Bell, Republican former member of Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • Edwin L. Cox, businessman and philanthropist.
  • Norris "Tuffy" Goff, comedian and radio actor, who played Abner Peabody in the famed Lum and Abner radio and television programs (born in Cove, Arkansas, raised in Mena).
  • Chester Lauck, second half of the Lum and Abner comedy pair. Lauck played Columbus "Lum" Edwards.
  • Herbert A. Littleton, awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War.
  • Jim Mabry, former Arkansas Razorbacks football All-American (raised in Memphis, Tennessee), has spent most of his adult life in Mena.
  • Dennis L. Montgomery, software designer who sold millions of dollars of useless software to the US Government.
  • Marcus Richmond, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 21 in multi-county region; born in Mena in 1956.
  • Mike Simpson, NFL player
  • Dorothy Shaver, first female president of a major Fifth Avenue store.
  • Olin E. Teague, longtime Texas's 6th congressional district representative who was born in Oklahoma, but reared in Mena.
  • T. Texas Tyler, country singer (The Deck of Cards).

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Mena (Arkansas) para niños

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