Our earliest history dates to 1835 when Simon Sager settled on a farm 1 mile west of what is now the City of Siloam Springs. The creek flowing through the middle of downtown is named in his honor, "Sager Creek." His original dwelling has been restored and is now located on the campus of John Brown University.
The first settlement was called Hico, and in 1884 Caldeen D. Gunter settled there. At about this time the Hico Post Office was established. This was later moved to Siloam City (Siloam Springs). Hico was a prominent trading post with the Cherokee nation and consisted of two stores and a mill.
In 1879 it was discovered that the waters of the twenty eight springs contained "medicinal qualities" and the establishment of a summer resort began. The first anniversary of the town was celebrated on the June 24. In March 1880, J.V. Hargrove laid out the original plat of Siloam City. The name was later changed to Siloam Springs.
Due to the reputation gained as a summer resort and the prospect of the railroad through town, the town was incorporated during its first year of existence on December 22, 1881, with a population of over 3,000. After this initial "boom" many of the transient residents returned to their homes and the population dwindled to about half. This was the only time in the history of the town that the population dwindled so rapidly.
The first newspaper for the Town of Siloam Springs was established in 1880 by Thomas Gallagher and was know as the "Sun." Other early papers were the Globe, Arkansas Herald, and the Locomotive.
In 1892 the town experienced a great flood, which took two lives and destroyed much of the downtown area. Rebuilding began immediately and since that time the town has sustained a steady growth pattern.
Economy & Trade Center
The coming of the railroad in 1897 stepped up the economy of western Benton County. Orchards, poultry products, hides, wool, beef and all agricultural products found a ready market with the City of Siloam Springs serving as the shipping point and trade center. This trade center remains today, and is a great advantage to industry.
John Brown University
In 1919, John E. Brown, Sr. founded the Southwestern Collegiate Institute in the City of Siloam Springs. In 1920 the name was changed to John E. Brown College, and in 1934 the name was again changed to John Brown University. Today the school has an enrollment of over 1,500 students and is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the Arkansas State Department of Education as a four-year college.
Elevation, Climate & Population
At an altitude of 1,183 feet above sea level, the climate consists of an average temperature of 58.4 degrees and an average rainfall of 41.75 inches. Snow is usually at a premium and makes few appearances during the season, and spring brings an abundance of beautiful Dogwoods. The July 2015 census estimate is 16,081.
Historic Downtown, Building Rehabilitation
The historic downtown has remained the heart of the city. Sager Creek winds through the district, while historic buildings filled with shops and eateries line the streets.
Before and After Photo Project through Main Street Siloam Springs
- see buildings as they were originally built, and their updated/restored versions. See the photos.