About Altus, Arkansas
Altus is a town in Franklin County, Arkansas, United States. It is part of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 817 at the 2000 census. When the Iron Mountain Railroad laid rails up the Arkansas River Valley in the 1870s from Little Rock to the Oklahoma border at Fort Smith, Altus was the highest point on the track. In recognition of this highest railroad elevation between Little Rock and Fort Smith, the station was originally known as Summit. The town's initial development was due to railroad efforts encouraging German immigration to settle lands adjacent to the railroad. In 1903, the railroad mainline was shifted to a more favorable alignment along the Arkansas River. The track through Altus was removed in the 1930s, but the railroad station has been preserved as a commercial establishment.Altus is located in the Boston Mountain range between the Ozark Mountains to the north and the Ouachita Mountains to the south. The soil type here is generally Linker on the hilltops; a sandy loam, slightly acid soil and good for grape growing. Several wineries are located in Altus and it is the location of the Altus American Viticultural Area.Altus is the site of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (St. Mary's Catholic Church), of which is on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1902 and is known for its beautiful paintings, ornate gold leaf walls, and Roman architecture.It is also home to three of the six Arkansas wineries and the Altus AVA, (Chateau aux Arc Winery), (Mount Bethel Winery), and (Post Familie Winery). The Wiederkehr Winery is located north of Altus in Wiederkehr Village.Altus is also the former site of Hendrix College. The annual Spring Gala, Grapefest, Dinner in the Vineyards, and Wineaux Fest are held in Altus each year.Altus was the location for the first season of the television show The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.