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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Neil Compton

A Benton County doctor was integral in saving one of Arkansas’s most beautiful resources.

Neil Compton was born in Falling Springs Flat in 1912. He graduated from medical school in 1939 and after World War II service in the U.S. Navy began a long obstetrics career in which he said he “delivered enough babies to staff my own Navy.”

After learning of Corps of Engineers plans to place two dams on the Buffalo River, he became president of the Ozark Society to Save the Buffalo River on May 24, 1962. Under his leadership, the Society pursued a vigorous campaign to stop the dams, culminating in the creation on March 1, 1972, of the Buffalo National River, the first such designation ever.

Compton wrote several books, including The Battle for the Buffalo River: A Conservation Crisis in the Ozarks, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and received national honors for his conservation work. He died in 1999 and some of his ashes were scattered in his beloved Buffalo River.

You can read the full Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry Neil Ernest Comptin at  encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/neil-ernest-compton-2193/.

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.