Established in 1881, the Little Rock District of the Army Corps of Engineers served the nation by improving navigation and providing flood control in parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The District made significant contributions in improving the area's waterways; however, over a span of 40 years, the workload diminished to the point that keeping the District open could no longer be justified. In 1921 its workload was transferred to the Memphis District, and the Little Rock District was closed.
Serious floods in the Mississippi River basin during the 1920s and 1930s led to legislation funding new flood control measures in the area. Reactivated in 1939, the Little Rock District inherited a robust program of civil works projects. Four dam and reservoir projects were passed to the new district: Nimrod and Blue Mountain on the Fourche LaFave River and Norfolk and Clearwater on the White River. These projects would provide needed flood control in an area still fearful after the 1927 and 1936 flooding. Norfolk would bring desperately needed hydropower to an area without adequate electricity. Construction began on Nimrod and Clearwater in 1940; Norfolk followed in early 1941. The district began hiring workers during a time when employment was critically needed.
On December 7, 1941, everything changed. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese propelled the nation into war and adjusted the priorities for the Little Rock District as they did for the rest of the country. The employees of the District quickly refocused to become an integral part of the World War II effort, building airfields, ordnance plants, bases, relocation facilities, and a major arsenal As always, the employees dedicated themselves to the mission at hand and performed admirably.
The effort proved successful with the United States and her allies emerging victorious over the Axis powers. It is with honor and pride that we offer you this story of the dedicated public servants, the men and women of the Little Rock District, who worked tirelessly to preserve the nation in a time of war.