The history of the city of McGehee and the history of the railroad through McGehee are intricately interwoven. The history of the railroad dates back to 1870 when a railroad was constructed from Pine Bluff southeast through Varner, to Chicot.
Important in the history of the town of McGehee is the McGehee family which came to the area from Alabama in 1857. Benjamin McGehee, his wife, Sarah, a son, Abner, and daughters Laura and Mary settled on land that is now a part of McGehee. Abner McGehee, son of Benjamin and Sarah McGehee, purchased of land on July 1, 1876, on which the town of McGehee was later to be located.
When the railroad came into McGehee in 1878 and continued south and southwest, people began to move into the area. Abner McGehee constructed a large commissary building and entered the mercantile business to accommodate the new arrivals.
A post office was established in the McGehee commissary, and in 1879 Abner McGehee became the first postmaster. The post office was named McGehee and served between 400 and 500 people.
An order of incorporation was signed March 5, 1906. The first meeting of the town council was held July 21, 1906.
Today the economy of the area is largely dependent upon agriculture. The railroad has been largely replaced by the trucking industry which hauls farm products from the gins and grain bins of the area to their destination. From a population of 400 in 1879, McGehee has grown into a community of about 5,000 citizens. Port facilities on the Mississippi River are being developed, and the present highway system is rebuilt to accommodate increased traffic.