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.
- US Census