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Fort Lynn, a Southwest Arkansas Lumber Town

Map with Fort Lynn, a lumber town, north of Black Diamond, a coal mining town (Arkansas Digital Archives).

While perusing township maps in the Arkansas Digital Archives, I came across Fort Lynn along the Sulphur River in Miller County, just north of Black Diamond, which was just north of Doddridge. Of all of those towns mentioned, only Doddridge is still denoted on present-day maps.

From the little information I've gathered, Fort Lynn was a lumber town in southwest Arkansas surrounded by several logging camps. As a lumber town, lots of things happened there --- some good, some bad: murders occurred in 1898, 1901 and 1930; and, in 1908, almost 40 Arkansas delegates for the Red River Improvement Association launched steam boats at Fort Lynn to journey to Shreveport for their annual meeting. Then, in 1909, Miss Irma Grace of Texarkana may have shot a seven foot alligator on the Sulphur River at Fort Lynn, though a Mr. W. L. Wood claimed credit.

Being a lumber town, Fort Lynn saw its share of horror. In 1898, three men from Fort Lynn were seriously injured loading logs on a train for the Gate City Lumber Company when the logs shifted and rolled on top of them. They weren't simultaneously injured; one log rolled and pushed a hook through a man's hand; then, thirty minutes later, another rolled and broke a man's arm; not just a few minutes later, several logs rolled and crushed a worker.

The last part serves as a reminder that workplace safety reforms have always been desperately needed but not always willingly applied: my own great grandfather died in a saw mill accident at Plain Dealing, Louisiana.

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