The town of Shirley, ArkansasThe town of Shirley, ArkansasWork 489 Highway 9 E P.O. Box 195 Shirley Arkanasas 72153 United Stateswork Work Phone: (501)723-8290work
The town of Shirley, Arkansas, is picturesquely positioned in the Ozark Mountains with the Middle Fork of the Little Red River within sight of the heart of downtown. This prime location makes the little town a popular site for recreational activities, with Greers Ferry Lake providing a double feature only minutes away.
It is common for locals through spring and summer to fish right off the bank of the Little Red. The old River Road provides a leisurely trail ride on horseback or ATV through dense foliage with towering bluffs framing the view. The trail departs from the town’s downtown rodeo arena and traverses the old railroad bridge which now accommodates one-lane vehicle traffic. Crossing the narrow, rusty bridge high above the water is guaranteed to leave you holding your breath! The historic bridge is a nostalgic spot for locals and tourists alike, and an enticing setting for those who enjoy photography.
Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Co. was hired by Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad to build a bridge over the Little Red River near Settlement in 1908. Sheer bluffs prevented the cut from being made at the long-established town of Settlement just down river, resulting in the town of Shirley being officially established at the alternate location in 1911.
During the first half of the century, Shirley was a center of commerce with farmers and merchants bringing their produce and wares from all around the area. Several politicians made whistle stops at the train depot. In the years before prohibition the bustling town developed a wild-west reputation with busy saloons and brawls a common sight. The tiny jail still stands today, a vestige of that particular era.
In 1949, due to strikes from the workers of the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad the trains stopped running. Consequently, the population dropped from 2,000 to about 300 and it lingers at that mark today.
A scenic drive on the thrilling curves of Highway 9 through Shirley will highlight the diverse geographical, agricultural, recreational and historical sites this eclectic little town has to offer. Comprised of old stone and frame buildings with tin roofs, downtown Shirley is a reminder of days gone by yet a subtle hint of things to come as residents and city leaders preserve their past and creatively craft their future.