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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Located in northeastern Le Flore County, Arkoma lies just across the state line from Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the intersection of Oklahoma State Highways 9A and 112. In 1908 the Fort Smith, Arkoma and Southwestern Railroad Company applied for incorporation to build a railroad through the area but failed to lay the tracks. By 1911 a town had been organized on the property of Capt. James Reynolds, a Civil War veteran who intermarried into the Choctaw Nation. He amassed a small fortune in Indian Territory and in 1890 built a castle in the nearby town of Cameron. Reynolds developed Arkoma as a suburb of Fort Smith, platted the town, constructed rent houses, and induced the Fort Smith Light and Traction Company to build tracks and run a regular interurban route to the new community. Reynolds named the town because of its relation to the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. A proposed Fort Smith, Arkoma and Wilburton Railway Company (chartered in 1912), which would build a sixty-mile line from Wilburton to Arkoma, never materialized. Its promoters had hoped to establish a manufacturing industry at the townsite.

In 1917 the streetcar service discontinued. By 1918 the town had a general store and by the 1930s a brick plant, but Arkoma has always served as a residential community for workers commuting to Fort Smith. In 1936 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed a school building, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 (NR 88001398). In 1946 Arkoma incorporated, and by 1950 the population stood at 1,691. The number of inhabitants increased to 1,862 in 1960 and to 2,098 in 1970. The town's first high school opened in the 1970s, with its first graduation occurring in 1975. In 2000 the population was 2,180, and 422 students enrolled in the prekindergarten-through-twelfth-grade Arkoma school system. The U.S. Census recorded 1,989 inhabitants in 2010.

Larry O'Dell


Rosa Ayleene Nance, "Captain James E. Reynolds," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 32 (Spring 1954).

Henry L. Peck, The Proud Heritage of LeFlore County: A History of an Oklahoma County (Van Buren, Ark.: Press Argus, 1963).

R. L. Sosebee, Arkoma, Oklahoma: Back Then and Now (Arkoma, Okla.: R. L. Sosebee, 1999).

Sarah Singleton Spears, Yesterday Revisited: An Illustrated History of LeFlore County (Poteau, Okla.: Poteau Daily News and Sun, 1991).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Larry O'Dell, “Arkoma,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=AR013.

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