Conway started as a construction camp, when the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad was built through what would become Faulkner County in 1871. The chief engineer in charge of construction, Asa P. Robinson took land instead of salary when the railroad had some financial difficulty, and set aside a part in the northeast (the part with the railroad) for a town and train depot, Conway Station. Faulkner County was established in 1873, and this town, now also called Conway, became the county seat. As late as 1916 Conway was the only organized municipality in the county.


In 1890 Hendrix College moved to Conway from Altus, Arkansas.

In 1891, a special committee of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention organized the founding of an educational institution for women. Land was acquired in Conway, and Central College opened in 1892 with the intent of training women for home, church, business, and society.

In 1907 the State Legislature created the Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas) to educate teachers.

Central College closed in 1947 until 1952, when it was purchased by the newly formed Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas for $85,000 and became Conway Baptist College, which opened in September 1952. The name was changed in 1962 to Central Baptist College.


In 1880 there were 1,017 people in Conway. The population doubled over the next 20 years, to 2,003 people in 1900, and doubled again over the next 20, to 4,564 in 1920. After this growth remained constant and by 1950 there were 8,610 people in the city. Conway added roughly 5,000 people each decade thereafter until the population in 1990 stood at 26,481. At this point there was a change (what was it?) and the population began to grow at a rapid pace - in 2000 there were 43,167 people in the city, and a special census was held in 2005 showing another 10,000 people had moved in, bringing the population to 52,262.


The 2010 census was expected to show Conway at 60,000 people, but probably due to the economic downturn the 2010 results showed the population to be at 58,908 people. This population was composed of 77% white, 16% black, and 5% Hispanic/Latino..

Conway's population has grown rapidly since 1990

See also