Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
McCrory Waterworks
McCrory Waterworks

MCCRORY WATERWORKS, MCCRORY, WOODRUFF COUNTY

SUMMARY

The McCrory Waterworks is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its association to the Public Work Administration activities during the 1930s. It is also being nominated under Criterion C for its excellent 1930s waterworks construction. The McCrory Waterworks is being nominated under the multiple property listing, “An Ambition to Be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933-1943.”

ELABORATION

Mr. Hamilton was the first known white settler to arrive at the area that would later become Woodruff County. In 1820, he landed at a point on the river, which was a meeting place for the Chickasaw and Quapaw tribes originally known as Chickasaw Crossing.[1] Following Mr. Hamilton’s arrival this point became the center of white settlement. From the years 1822-1826 Mr. Rolla Gray and his family came, expanding the settlement. In 1848, the site of Chickasaw Crossing was surveyed and laid out for Mr. Thomas Hough, the founder of the town, which he named Augusta for his cousin.There was some mention that Augusta was the seat of justice for Jackson County, in 1852, before it became the seat of justice for Woodruff County. In 1861 Woodruff County was created and named in honor of William E. Woodruff, first editor of the Arkansas Gazette.[2]

While the settlement of Woodruff County occurred early in the nineteenth century, the town of McCrory was not founded until the end of that century. Before the founding of McCrory, there was an earlier settlement in that area two miles south of the present site of McCrory. This town, named De View, began in 1850 along a stagecoach line. For a short period of time this town was very prosperous because of its location along the stagecoach line which was the best form of transportation to the nearest railroad. But in 1886-1887 the Bald Knob and Memphis Railroad line was built, running two miles north of the town of De View; thus, people began to relocate closer to the railroad line at the present town of McCrory.[3]

By 1890, the town of McCrory was organized and named for its founder and owner Wade McCrory. Mr. McCrory inherited the land from his father, who purchased it after the Civil War. Mr. McCrory deeded 15 acres at the south end of his property for the new railroad depot.[4] The town boomed almost unexpectedly overnight, and the post office was established while Mr. McCrory was busy with business affairs in Texas. He requested that a friend Dr. Fakes, manage the town while he was away. By the time that Mr. McCrory returned, the new town had several residents, a stave factory, and five stores. The Oxley stave factory brought in over 100 workers. Families moved from all parts of the county seeking fortune. In addition, the town had a large population of Italian immigrants who labored in the railroad construction, camping out in tents along the railroad. Ms. Lou McFall owner of the inn at De View was forced to relocate her business to McCrory in order to accommodate the new growth and business occurring in McCrory. In addition to the depot site, Mr. McCrory also donated land for the Methodist Church and the school at McCrory, which was the educational center of the area for several years.[5]

In the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas, published in 1890 one author credits the town for its early success:

"McCrory…is only two years old and contains seven general stores, two grocery stores,a hardware and furniture store,a compliment of mechanics shops, one of the largest stave factories in the State, a hotel, livery stable, two restaurants, two frame church edifices (one for the white and one for the colored people), a public school house, two physicians and from 250-300 people."[6]

The author continues to boast about the desired town:

"It has a beautiful location and being near the railroad crossing is the most accessible town from all parts of the county, and is, therefore, a prospective candidate for the subsequent location of the county seat, which in due time it will make an effort to secure."[7]

Mr. McCrory attempted to persuade the county to move the seat of justice to McCrory and offered the county a large sum of money. But his offer did not stand. In 1918 Mr. McCrory died.[8] Despite Mr. McCrory’s failed attempt to move the county seat to McCrory, the town continued to prosper after his death.

The town’s prosperity was in large part due to the rich natural resources of the area in addition to the town’s convenient location nearby the railroad. There was an abundant supply of well water, which varied in depth between twenty to forty feet.[9] In many cases it could be obtained without digging through rock or boring. The land was fertile and excellent for farming. The soil produced such good cotton and corn that farmers could continue to raise these crops without having to return anything to the land to fertilize it.[10] Agriculture remained a strong industry for the county well into the twentieth century.

At the turn of the century, the School Improvement Association formed with the mission of advancing the McCrory high school. Plans were made for improvements to the school but were not carried out until 1926. The Association re-organized and changed its name to the PTA. The DetCo light plant aided the organization by donating money for new school auditorium and playground equipment.[11]

The new school improvement was not the only improvement in the town during that time. In 1936, the Public Works Administration provided $39,497 in aid for the construction of the waterworks, which included the water tower, tank, and water shed.

In 1955, an office building was built adjacent to the water tank. Although it was a later addition it falls within the waterworks period of significance; thus, it is a contributing building to the facility.

The McCrory Waterworks continues to serve the town as a primary source of water and a reminder of the town’s progress.



[1] Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas ( Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890), 274

[2] Ibid., 275.

[3]Woodruff County Historical Society, Rivers and Roads and Points Between.vol I.( Fall 1972), 18.

[4] Woodruff County Historical Society, Rivers and Roads and Points Between, vol. XXVII ( 2001-2002), 26.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Biographical and HistoricalMemoirs of Eastern Arkansas, 283.

[7] Ibid., 284.

[8] Woodruff County Historical Society, Rivers and Roads and Points Between vol. XXVII, 26.

[9] Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas, 279.

[10] Ibid., 280.

[11]Paula Herman Barrett, “Street Scene in McCrory” Rivers and Roads and Points Between vol. XXII,Woodruff County Historical Society (2001-2002) 10.

SIGNIFICANCE

The McCrory Waterworks is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its association to the Public Work Administration activities during the 1930s. It is also being nominated under Criterion C for its excellent 1930s waterworks construction. The McCrory Waterworks is being nominated under the multiple property listing, “An Ambition to Be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933-1943.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barrett, Paula Herman. “Street Scene in McCrory.” Rivers and Roads and Points Between  vol. XXII,  Woodruff County Historical Society (2001-2002).

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.

Information on the construction of the waterworks found in the PWA files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Woodruff County Historical Society, Rivers and Roads and Points Between. vol I.  ( Fall 1972).

Woodruff County Historical Society, Rivers and Roads and Points Between, vol. XXVII (2001-2002).