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Located in the southeastern portion of the United States, the Pine Bluff Destination covers Arkansas’s southeastern corner. Geographically, the destination contains numerous woodland and pastoral land areas as well as a few cities. The Pine Bluff Destination’s namesake is found in the northern region of the destination, encompassing a total land area of 46.38 square miles. Pine Bluff is the county seat of Jefferson County, and the city is notable for the number of historic sites that are established within. Visitors are often drawn to the city for the museums that regard Jefferson County’s historical background. The Arkansas Railroad Museum is one such museum where tourists can view a collection of train cars and engines. Throughout Pine Bluff’s history, the city has also been somewhat influenced by blues, gospel, and jazz music, an additional topic that visitors may learn about in the city’s museums. Apart from the historical aspect of Pine Bluff, the destination also comprises natural areas that permit outdoor recreation. People often go to the White River National Wildlife Refuge to go fishing, hunting, and camping. The refuge is inhabited by a diverse range of wildlife, with over 350,000 birds that migrate to the bottomland hardwood forests during the winter.
The Pine Bluff Destination occupies the entire southeastern corner of the state of Arkansas. To the east, the destination is bounded by Mississippi. Louisiana’s northern border encompasses the south, and other areas of Arkansas border the north and west. Located in the northern region of the destination is Pine Bluff. Aside from being the destination's namesake, Pine Bluff is also the county seat of Jefferson County and the eleventh-largest city in Arkansas.
It was reported that an estimated total population of 39,687 residents inhabit the city in 2022. The most recent census in 2020, however, accounted for roughly 42,323, meaning the population has decreased by -6.23% within that two-year period. An annual decline rate of -1.93% presently affects the population. Concerning the racial demographic of those who are living in Pine Bluff, black or African American residents constitute the majority of the population at 75.99%, with the second most common race being white at 19.56%. The remaining percentage is composed of those who classify as two or more races (1.89%), Asian residents (0.94%), those of an “other race” (0.72%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (0.60%), and Native American individuals (0.30%).
Industries that involve poultry processing, as well as the production of cotton, paper, soybeans, lumber, and cattle, are significant aids to Pine Bluff’s economic growth. Moreover, the city contains a fair amount of draws for tourism such as the Arkansas Railroad Museum and the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. The city is additionally the setting for a number of events, for example, the Southeast Arkansas District Fair and the Championship Rodeo. One of the most popular attractions of the previously listed tourism draws is the Arkansas Railroad Museum which depicts several events that have taken place over the course of Jefferson County’s history since 1983. A variety of train cars and engines are showcased at the Arkansas Railroad Museum. Another notable attraction in Pine Bluff is the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, which contributes to the culture of Arkansas in an educational sense. The arts and science center intends to engage visitors in various programs and activities in addition to viewing the collection of artwork that is displayed.
The lakes, rivers, and natural areas that can be found in and around Pine Bluff often receive outdoor enthusiasts who come to undertake recreational activities such as fishing, camping, and boating, to name a few. Located north of Pine Bluff is the Arkansas River where visitors can fish for bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. Many fishing tournaments are held at the river as well, including BASSMASTERS and the Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza. For those who plan on boating, Regional Park, Island Harbor Marina, Shepherd’s Island, and Saint Marie Park all offer boat launches that people can utilize.
Much of the Pine Bluff Destination comprises forested regions and expanses of farmland. A relatively high quantity of aquatic landforms also characterizes the destination’s topographic structure, as the Arkansas River courses from the northwest to the east with several tributaries extending from it. The Arkansas River itself also serves as a tributary to the Mississippi River, which makes up the eastern border of the Pine Bluff Destination. In addition to the natural areas found throughout the destination, numerous towns and urban districts occupy a portion of the destination, as it contains Warren, Monticello, McGehee, Crossett, Lake Village, El Dorado, Star City, Sheridan, Stuttgart, and the namesake, Pine Bluff.
A few preserved natural areas can be found in the Pine Bluff Destination, including Warren Praire Natural Area slightly south of the destination’s center; Overflow National Wildlife Refuge in the destination’s southernmost region; and the largest one, White River National Wildlife Refuge in the northeast. Over 300 ponds and lakes can be found in the White River National Wildlife Refuge, plus the White River that flows 90 miles through the refuge. These water landforms create a diverse range of habitats that are home to salamanders, turtles, frogs, beavers, water snakes, ducks, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and American black bears. Hunting for small game or white-tailed deer, turkey, and waterfowl is permitted at the White River National Wildlife Refuge.
Pine Bluff has been said by previous visitors to be somewhat “hot” and “muggy,” while the winter season is reportedly “short,” “cold,” and “wet.” Because of this, warm-weather activities are comparatively more accessible from late April to early June and from late August to mid-October, as temperatures tend to be fairly moderate during these months. Temperatures in Pine Bluff generally vary between 35 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year. July is most commonly the hottest month of the year with a typical average high of 92 degrees Fahrenheit. In October and November, temperatures gradually decrease as the cool season begins, and the average daily temperature drops below 59 degrees. The coldest month of the year is January as temperatures range between 35 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
Cloud cover varies throughout the year in Pine Bluff depending on the season. Most precipitation occurs in May, which has around 11.6 days that receive at least 0.04 inches of precipitation. The number of wet days decreases from June to March, and September generally has the least amount of wet days with an average of 7.3 days that receive over 0.04 inches of precipitation.
In 1819, Joseph Bonne, a half-French and half-Quapaw Indian, was the first settler of Pine Bluff. The Quapaws signed a treaty in 1824 that released their title to all land claims in Arkansas, which led to other settlers joining Joseph Bonne on the bluff. Pine Bluff was initially established on a bluff above the Arkansas River that the settlers considered a safe haven from the stream’s annual floods. In 1829, the Territorial Legislature established Jefferson County and it started functioning as a county the following year. Pine Bluff was then selected to be the county seat during the election in April 1832. On October 16th of that same year, the Quorum Court made the proposal to name the area “Pine Bluff Town.” At the time of the town’s incorporation in 1839, Pine Bluff had about 50 residents; however, more people were brought to the area as transportation improved in the 1840s and 1850s.
The American Civil War outbreak resulted in an influx of refugees coming to Pine Bluff after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves that began to swarm to Pine Bluff. After the war ended, the town constructed more railroads, and the production of cotton increased, which ultimately aided Pine Bluff’s recovery. In today’s time, Pine Bluff has become one of Arkansas’s most prominent cities with many museums that emphasize the city’s history.
In the downtown area of Pine Bluff, murals that depict the city’s history can be found on the exterior walls of buildings. Nearly thirteen murals have been completed thus far, with plans for nine more. The titles and portrayals of these murals include Main Street 1888, the Arkansas Flag Mural, Steam Engine 819 Cotton Belt Railroad, and the Delta Heritage Mural, among others.
Pine Bluff features a variety of buildings that are architecturally and historically significant. A total of 58 of the city’s structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One particular historic structure that visitors can currently visit is the Jefferson County Courthouse. In 1976, the courthouse was partially burned, though it was reopened in 1980. Another site is the Community Theatre, which dates back to 1889 when it was first constructed. The theater is “the oldest one-screen theater still operating in Arkansas.”