World War II
The outbreak of World War II (1941-1945) had a direct impact on the growth and development of central Arkansas.
The U.S. Army created Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock during the war. The North Little Rock site began as Camp Pike during World War I, which became a National Guard Training Center in 1922. During World War II Camp Robinson grew to six times its original size, quartering 50,000 soldiers as well as 10,000 German and Italian prisoners of war. Famous visitors to the camp included Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper. Highland Park, a public-assistance housing project administered by the Little Rock Housing Authority, was established for white military personnel drawn to Camp Robinson during World War II.
Adams Field (at Little Rock National Airport) became a base for antisubmarine patrols and pilot training exercises.
The U.S. War Department commissioned the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP) near Jacksonville. The plant opened on June 4, 1941, as an assembly facility for boosters, detonators, fuses and primers. Workers, mainly women, traveled to the plant from Little Rock in bus shuttles provided by Inter-City Transit and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Many families began moving into the adjacent Sunny Side Housing Project within a year or two. More than twelve thousand people worked at the plant during the height of World War II. The plant closed in 1946. Six thousand acres of land formerly occupied by the plant became the Little Rock Air Force Base on August 1, 1955. The Jacksonville Museum of Military History occupies the ordnance plant's original administrative building.