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Amagon (Jackson County)

Latitude and Longitude:

35°33'43"N 091°06'37"W

Elevation:

223 feet

Area:

0.111 square miles (2010 Census)

Population:

98 (2010 Census)

Incorporation Date:

June 2, 1948

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1910

1920

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

-

-

-

-

181

234

136

126

108

95

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amagon is a town in southern Jackson County on Highway 14. It is best known as the birthplace of Mike Beebe, Arkansas’s forty-fifth governor.

About 600 archaeological sites in Jackson County indicate that the land has been populated for around 10,000 years. However, the area around Amagon was only sparsely populated until the twentieth century. In 1900, Will Pennington owned the land where Amagon stands. He granted some land to the Bonnerville and Southwestern Railroad (also called at one time the Bonnerville and Southern), which was built in 1905 to link Bonnerville—now Bono (Craighead County)—to Estico (Jackson County). The line was later extended through Amagon to Algoa (Jackson County). The railroad, which soon became part of the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (often called the Frisco), hauled lumber and crossties on its thirty-five miles of track. The railroad ceased operation on December 31, 1934, and Highway 37 was built on the abandoned line in 1941. A settlement was formed east of the Cache River and took the name Red Hill. Bud Mitchell opened a general store, while Robert Stringer and Samuel Bobbet ran a sawmill. Hunt and White had a blacksmith shop, and a Mrs. Deavers ran a hotel. A post office opened in 1906.

While the town was still young, lumber businessman A. M. Ragon made the community the center of his operation. As a result, Red Hill was renamed for him (dropping the first letter of his last name). During World War II, one of the auxiliary air fields of the Newport Army Air Field was built east of Amagon. The Amagon school was consolidated into the Newport School District in 1945. The town did not officially incorporate until 1948.

In 1946, Mickey Dale (Mike) Beebe was born in Amagon. When he ran for governor of Arkansas in 2006, his campaign made frequent mention of the tar-paper shack that was his first home. Beebe and his mother, who was a waitress, moved frequently, often to larger cities in other states. Eventually, Beebe and his family returned to Arkansas; he graduated from high school in Newport (Jackson County) in 1964.

With the decline of the timber industry in Jackson County, Amagon became more of an agricultural center, but its proximity to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge also made it a destination for duck hunters. Several fish hatcheries are located east of Amagon. In 1986, Jackson County began operating a landfill east of Amagon.

The town of Amagon received state-wide notoriety in 2005 when it was revealed that the Amagon Grocery and General Store had been selling 5,000 packs of sinus medication per year for the past several years, a figure that struck state authorities as excessive given the population of the area. The key ingredient in the medicine, pseudoephedrine, was being used to produce methamphetamine (or “meth”), an illegal stimulant. Following this revelation, state laws were passed restricting the sale of medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

In 2000, a turtle farm began operations outside of Amagon. The farm received international attention in August 2014 when a two-headed turtle was found among new hatchlings.

The town of Amagon is also home to a Baptist church. The population has dropped from more than 200 residents in 1960 to fewer than 100 in 2010; most of the residents are white. On January 1, 2016, Amagon made the news after the mayor, police chief, and an alderman all announced their resignation over a dispute regarding how to fix the town’s sewer system.

For additional information:
“Jackson County Proud.” Program of the 1988 Follies. Newport, AR: Craig Printing Company.

Minton, Mark. “New State Law Cuts Key Links in Methamphetamine Chain.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 28, 2005, pp. 1A, 16A.

Newport Daily Independent, Profile Edition, February 28, 1990.

Steven Teske
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Last Updated 11/7/2016

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