Texarkana spreads across two states: Texas and Arkansas. It is generally thought that it takes its name from a combination of the two with a portion of Louisiana thrown in, for that state is a mere thirty miles to the south. The two municipalities are separated along north–south State Line Avenue to such a degree that State Line Avenue runs through the center of the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (MI1); federal facilities are shared by the two states. Texarkana, Arkansas, was incorporated in 1880 (Texarkana, Texas, in 1874). Railroads made Texarkana. The city’s origins lie in a construction camp at the western side of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad (later Missouri Pacific) and as the terminus of the Texas and Pacific (T&P) Railroad. The Cairo and Fulton laid out lots on the Arkansas side of the state line and the T&P on the Texas side. Because some of the important streets follow the diagonal of the former Missouri Pacific tracks, the town layout is not a straightforward grid. This results in some odd-shaped building lots. Texarkana was a rough town in its early years, in part because of the ease of evading the law of one state for another merely by crossing the road. The railroads opened up the forests of Arkansas (and of East Texas) for timber extraction in the late nineteenth century, and the city continued to prosper in the twentieth century. Texarkana remains an important regional center. Today, intersected by three national highways and I-30 and I-49, the city is a locus of commerce, industry, and entertainment for four states (Oklahoma is just to the northwest).
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