Polk County is a county located in the U.S. state of Arkansas, one of twelve Polk Counties in the United States. As of 2010, the population was 20,662. The county seat is Mena. Polk County is Arkansas's 48th county, formed on November 30, 1844, and named for James Polk, President of the United States. At that time, Polk was president elect. It is an alcohol prohibition or dry county. It is the setting for Stephen Hunter's fictional Bob Lee Swagger series, the most notable being Black Light, as well as the place where Joel B Reed's fictional character, Jazz Phillips, of the Jazz Phillips mystery series, grew up.
Brief History of Polk County
From the 1871 History of Western Arkansas
On November 5, 1844, James K. Polk, of Tennessee, was elected President of the United States, and on the 30th of the same month Gov. Thomas S. Drew approved an act of the Arkansas Legislature cutting off a large part of Sevier County and erecting it into a county named after the President-elect. It is one of the western tier of counties; bounded on the north by Scott county; on the east by Montgomery; on the south by Howard and Sevier, and on the west by the State of Oklahoma. It has an area of 846 square miles and an average elevation of 1,300 feet, drained by the Cossitot and Ouachita rivers, both of which rise in the county.
The act creating the county fixed the temporary county seat at the house of John Pirtle, where there was a post office called Panther. The permanent county seat was located near the southwest corner of Township 2 south, Range 30 west, and was named Dallas, for the Vice President of the United States. Subsequently it was removed to a site a short distance north and the name was changed to Mena.
Polk is divided into seventeen townships, viz: Big Fork, Center, Cedar, Cove, Eagle, Eagle Gap, Faulkner, Freedom, Fulton, Gap Springs, Mill Creek, Mountain, Ouachita, Ozark, Potter, Rich Mountain and White. A large part of the county is in the Arkansas National Forest.
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