The City of Van Buren was founded as a center of transportation. The original founding was as a landing along the Arkansas River known as "Phillips Landing," but the name later was changed to Van Buren, after the Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren a friend of one of the major City fathers, Mr. John Drennen.
As Van Buren grew, its link to transportation continued to grow, with the railroad a major player. Both the Union Pacific and the Frisco served the community and at one point, Van Buren had two depots at different spots in town for both railroads. One of those depots was destroyed, but the second one exists still today as the office of the town's Advertising and Promotion office. During church services, it is recalled that men in the community that had a link to the railroad sometimes looked at their watches, as a reference to when the church service was starting and when it was ending -- they were checking the preacher out to see in he was running on "railroad time." Of course, he was not, and that seemed to be a point of aggravation with them. Van Buren no longer has the Frisco Railroad, but Union Pacific still continues today as an important member of the community. Transportation is a part of the town heritage and is a critical component of its future. Van Buren sits at the hub of a major interstate (I-40), the Arkansas River, and rail that reaches throughout the country. Van Buren, Ark., is a rail town of yesterday, today and tomorrow.