Newton County was formed in 1842 and named for Thomas W. Newton, an Arkansas congressman. The Choctaw Indians once lived in the hill country. The landscapes of Newton County are the rugged and mountainous Ozark Mountains. Travel writers have selected scenic Highway 7 as one of the top 10 scenic drives in the country. The elevation ranges from 700 feet to 2,561 feet. The Ozark National Forest provides wilderness hiking, backpacking, camping, and hunting. The Buffalo National River, the nation's first federally protected river, is one of the last free-flowing streams in mid-America and offers clear blue water for fishing and canoeing along the towering limestone bluffs. The county seat is Jasper where the county courthouse is located. The courthouse building is unique. The old county courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1938, and the present building reflects a determination that this kind of disaster would never happen again. Not only is the entire building fireproof, but also every room is a fireproof vault. The outside walls and the cross walls are granite quarried from the bed of the Little Buffalo River and the floors are cement. The cornerstone of the building carries a reminder of the post-depression years: "U.S.A - 1939 - WPA."