The history of the city of Centerton in Northwest Arkansas is not unlike many other towns established around the mid 19th century as it was initially established as a railroad stop and processing center for the county’s burgeoning apple industry. This was the result of orchards planted earlier in the century that came into fruition after the Civil War, around the same time as exportation became more accessible thanks to the creation of a railroad line by Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad Company that ran from Benton County to Grove in Oklahoma. However, despite the continual growth of other agricultural industries, this particular produce was eventually diminished due to ongoing problems in both the apple and railroad industries in the century that followed. While apple diseases in local crops prior to the Depression caused a downturn in the industry, the towns fortune changed considerably when the railroad ceased to operate as a result too, leaving it in decline through most of the 1930’s leaving farmers seeking alternative opportunities to increase their livelihood with other produce such as livestock and dairy to replace the apple crops the region’s economy had relied on for so long. In comparison, the poultry industry in particular saw rapid growth in the 20th century and by the 21st century, Wal-Mart had also set up its headquarters in the state which resulted in the city’s success in more recent times.
The region was originally claimed by the Osage tribe – who predominantly inhabited the state of Missouri – however having regularly visited what is known as the McKissick Spring on land that would later become the city of Centerton, they declared the fertile land as hunting territory until the Indian Removal policy in 1843. The area was then purchased with a land grant by Diacleson Jackson – who apparently never even lived in the county – until he sold the acreage to James McKissick, after whom the local spring got its name. McKissick also served as a representative to the remaining Native American tribes in the region including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole tribes who were later relocated to Oklahoma. During the Civil War, a Methodist church and a log schoolhouse were built several miles from the closest post office which was located just north of the spring. Both these buildings were named Centre Point due to their central location within Benton County. The area played a pivotal role in this conflict as several divisions of Union troops used the area at McKissick Spring to camp en route to Pea Ridge, a historical battlefield in Benton County.
It was however, the completion of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad Company line in 1898 that led to the city’s official establishment as Centerton a few years later in January 1900 after its citizens discovered that the original name of Centre Point was already being used in another county and changed it accordingly. Around this period, Centerton was nicknamed the “Apple Capital of the World” when its produce won prizes at the World’s Fair in Paris, France at the turn of the century.