Cane Hill College
The surviving structure dates
to 1886, but the college first
opened in a two-room log
building in 1834. - Cane Hill College, Arkansas - Cane Hill College, Arkansas
Cane Hill College
Founded in 1834, Cane Hill College in Northwest
Arkansas was the first institution of higher learning
in the Natural State.
Marker at Cane Hill College
A historical marker on the
grounds of the college gives
in brief the details of its
A Civil War Battlefield
The Battle of Cane Hill raged
around the historic college on
November 28, 1862.
An Innovative Institution
Not only was Cane Hill
College the first in Arkansas
to confer four-year degrees, it
was also the first in the state
to admit women.
Cane Hill College - Canehill, Arkansas
Historic College of the Old South
Long before thousands of screaming fans
began to congregate in Fayetteville on
Saturday afternoons to urge on the University
of Arkansas Razorbacks, a small group of
Cumberland Presbyterians met about 20
miles away to found what would become the
state's first institution of higher learning -
Cane Hill College.

Coming into existence on October 28, 1834,
and originally known as Cane Hill School, the
institution that would grow into Cane Hill
College was located in today's community of
Canehill. Then a prosperous settlement in
the shadow of the Boston Mountains, Cane
Hill (the name was later contracted to
"Canehill") was an important crossroads in
the center of a farming district in southern
Washington County. It was one of the most
significant communities in the early days of
Northwest Arkansas.

Cane Hill School opened its doors in 1835 in
a two-room log building and met the basic
educational needs of the young men of
Northwest Arkansas for 15 years. Then, in
1850, the state legislature approved a charter
that allowed the school to begin granting
high school diplomas (then a rare thing). The
charter also gave the school a new name,
Cane Hill Collegiate Institute.

Just two years later, in 1852, the school was
again upgraded by the state legislature, this
time to a four year college. It was renamed
Cane Hill College.

By the time the Civil War erupted in 1861,
Cane Hill College was one of the most
important institutions of higher learning west
of the Mississippi River. It had grown to
include a dorm, educational building and
other facilities, but President Lincoln's call for
troops to put down the "rebellion in the
Cotton States" forever changed both
Arkansas and Cane Hill College.

Outraged that the President was considering
an invasion of the South (although Southern
forces had initiated the conflict by firing on
Fort Sumter), the young men of the college
rushed to enlist in the Confederate army. Left
with virtually no one to educate, Cane Hill
College closed its doors for the duration of
the war in 1861.

On November 28, 1862, the campus became
a battlefield as the
Battle of Cane Hill swirled
around it. An important preliminary to the
Battle of Prairie Grove, the engagement
resulted in the capture of Cane Hill by Union
forces and the use of Cane Hill College as a
military hospital.

Most of Cane Hill was burned to the ground
during the Civil War and, with the exception of
the dorm, Cane Hill College was not spared.
Despite the great property damage suffered,
however, the school reopened its doors not
long after the end of the conflict and by 1868
new construction was underway on the

Cane Hill was rapidly being supplanted as a
center of commerce and population by
nearby Fayetteville, however, and in 1871
what would eventually become the University
of Arkansas was founded in the latter city.
The new college in Fayetteville drew students
away from its predecessor in Cane Hill and
over time would replace it as well.

Cane Hill College did not quickly give up is
mission to educate the young people of
Arkansas. In 1875 it opened its doors to
women, becoming the first four-year college
in Arkansas to do so. Two years later the
college conferred degrees on five of these
young ladies, the first women to graduate
from a coeducational college in Arkansas.
On October 10, 1885, however, Cane Hill
College again burned to the ground. The
destruction was thought to be the work of an
arsonist, but supporters of the school made
one final attempt to rebuild. While classes
were held in the nearby Methodist Church,
the brick structure that survives today was

Although the new facility was completed in
1886, expense and competition from the
college in Fayetteville were overwhelming the
historic institution in Cane Hill. It closed its
doors for the last time in 1891 when the
Arkansas Synod of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church decided to relocate their
educational efforts to Clarksville in the
Arkansas River Valley.

The legacy of Cane Hill College survives
today in the beautiful facilities of the
University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. The
institution proudly traces its heritage back to
the hand-hewn log school founded in 1834.
Please click here to read an outstanding
history assembled by the university.

The original site and surviving brick building
of Cane Hill College can be seen today in
Canehill, Arkansas. The grounds are located
( blank ) in Canehill. The former campus,
along with the rest of the community, hosts
the annual
Historic Cane Hill Harvest Festival
on the 3rd Saturday in September each year.

To reach Canehill from Interstate 540 in
Fayetteville, follow U.S. 62 west for 12 miles
and then turn left (south) onto Arkansas
Highway 45 and drive 3.5 miles to Canehill.

From Prairie Grove, follow U.S. 62 west for
just over three miles and turn south on
Highway 45 to Canehill.

The 1886 college building is located one
block west of Highway 45 on College Avenue
in Canehill. The grounds can be visited daily
and a historical marker briefly outlines the
founding of the historic school.

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, just 6.5
miles away in Prairie Grove, is a great place
to learn more about the Civil War history of
the area.
An Educational Landmark
The historic college founded
in 1834 was the predecessor
of today's University of the
Ozarks and holds a unique
place in American history.
Custom Search
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.