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El Dorado (pronounced to rhyme with tornado (IPA: [εl doˈreɪdoʊ] or [εl dəˈreɪdə])) is a city in Union Countymarker, Arkansasmarker, USAmarker. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 20,467. The city is the county seat of Union County, and home to the headquarters of Murphy Oil Corporation, Deltic Timber Corporation, and Lion Oil Refinery. The city hosts a community college, South Arkansas Community College ("Southark"), as well as a symphony and an arts center. Most recently, El Dorado has become a community of education with the January 2007 announcement by Murphy Oil Corporation of the El Dorado Promise, a scholarship program that allows all El Dorado High School graduates who have been at the school since at least the ninth grade to attend any college in the country of their choice.


El Dorado is located at (33.213521, -92.662553).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.3 square miles (42.3 km²), of which, 16.3 square miles (42.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.31%) is water.

Major highways


As of the census of 2000, there were 21,530 people, 8,686 households, and 5,732 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,323.3 people per square mile (510.9/km²). There were 9,891 housing units at an average density of 607.9/sq mi (234.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.66% White, 44.18% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 8,686 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.9% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. Of 8,686 households, 304 are unmarried partner households: 243 heterosexual, 19 same-sex male, and 42 same-sex female. (Note: Stigmatization of homosexuality may prevent same-sex couples from reporting themselves as such on the US Census, especially in more conservative areas.) 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.3% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,045, and the median income for a family was $34,753. Males had a median income of $30,876 versus $19,211 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,332. About 20.0% of families and 24.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.3% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Historical figures
Year Population
1900 500
1940 15,900
1950 23,100
1960 25,300
1970 25,300
1980 26,700
1990 23,100
2000 21,530

Climate data


According to the 2000 Census, 22.5% of the population age 25+ had an Associates Degree or higher. As of 2000, there were 1,172 students enrolled in public high schools. Starting with the class of 2007, children who continuously attend El Dorado High School and reside in the school district are eligible for a college scholarship through a program called the El Dorado Promise.

Points of interest

  • South Arkansas Arboretum
  • South Arkansas Arts Center
  • South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
  • Courthouse Square (including public artwork)
  • Historic Main Street Pizza
  • Rialto Theatre (one of the oldest theaters in Arkansas, considered "haunted", currently closed due to sale by owner)
  • Bodenhamer Skate Park
  • Murphy Oil Corp. Headquarters located in downtown El Dorado
  • Memorial Stadium
  • 6 City Parks
  • Shopping Areas such as: Madison Square Shopping Center, The Commons, Northwest Village Shopping Centre, and a fully revived downtown area including coffee shops, diners and more.
  • Nostalgic local eateries such as: The Spudnut Shop, Shipley's, The Townhouse, JJ's BBQ and many more.
  • South Arkansas Municipal Auditorium: Full service Auditorium featuring musical acts on tour.
  • Showdown at Sunset (A play that occurs in the summer and gives detail about the city's history)

Annual Events

El Dorado is the site for several annual events, including the Mayhaw Festival hosted by the South Arkansas Historical Foundation the first Saturday of each May (with a crawfish boil the same weekend), a Fantastic Fourth Celebration during July (including a 5k run, an antique car show, and fireworks), the SouthArk Outdoor Expo in September, the two-day MusicFest: a beer festival in October (with pop, rock, blues, and country performers, among other events), and various winter holiday events, including the largest Christmas parade in the state. The above mentioned Crawfish Boil has become so much more. It now hosts a "Battle of the Bands", a Bike show/one day motorcycle rally, a motorcycle parade, a Pool tournament, and much more. The official name of the event is "Bugs, Bands and Bikes".MusicFest El Dorado takes place the first weekend in October each year. MusicFest XXII took place October 2 and 3, 2009.The event takes up eight city blocks and features over 30 acts on five stages. 2009 headliners included Blues Traveler, Jack Ingram, Joe Nichols, Patrice Pike and Trout Fishing in America. The event received the coveted Festival of the Year Award in 2009 by the Arkansas Festival & Event Association in 2008. Past headliners include Toby Keith, the Charlie Daniels Band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Tracy Lawrence, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Anderson, Eddie Money and more.


El Dorado is home to two airports, one commercial and one small General Aviation only airport. Both are owned by the city. The South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Fieldmarker, which offers mostly private aircraft, but also commercial service on one airline carrier. El Dorado's second airport is located within the city limits and closer to the downtown area. The El Dorado Downtown Airport has flights in and out for local industries including Fortune 500 oil and gas companies. People who own small private planes have the option to lease or own their own hangar here.


El Dorado is home to one public radio station and seven commercial radio stations which are operated by two ownership groups, Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation, and El Dorado Broadcasting.

El Dorado Broadcasting owns two and Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation owns and operates five radio stations:
  • El Dorado Broadcasting owns KLBQ, also known as Q99 Today's Best Music. The format is Hot Adult Contemporary. In 2007, program director Dan Murphy was recognized as the Top 40 PD of the year by the New Music Awards. Murphy was arrested in 2008 for allegedly selling copyrighted syndication programs online, for which he did not have permission.
  • KDMS 1290 AM is a Southern Gospel station.

El Dorado is also served by

All three transmitters are located east of El Dorado, in Huttig, Arkansasmarker. While KTVE no longer considers El Dorado their primary newsroom, the station is licensed to El Dorado by the FCC. The station moved primary operations to Monroe, Louisianamarker in 1988.

El Dorado is also served by the El Dorado News-Times, one of the oldest newspapers in South Arkansas as well as a free community newspaper The South Arkansas Leader which is owned and operated by broadcasters Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation.

Oil discoveries

El Dorado during the oil boom of the 1920s.
*Known as Arkansas's boomtown because of oil discoveries in the 1920s and in 1937. Several oil refineries are based or started in El Dorado.[15755]

Murphy Oil, a S&P 500 company, has its corporate headquarters in El Dorado.

Notable natives and residents


  2. US Census Bureau Quick facts Sheet accessed 1 February 2007 at
  3. American fact finder, US Census Bureau. Accessed 1 February 2007 at
  4. Press Release from the El Dorado School district accessed 1 February 2007 at
  5. Promise FAQ accessed 1 February 2007 at
  6. FlightAware > Resources > Airport > S Arkansas Regional Airport (El Dorado, AR) [KELD/ELD]


External links

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