Blytheville was founded in 1879 by the Methodist clergyman Henry T. Blythe. Blytheville is located in Mississippi County approximately 60 miles north of West Memphis. Because of the abundance of trees, the city grew quickly and was incorporated in 1889. According to records, the city had a large and diverse population in 1890. As the vast forest began to shrink due to unregulated harvesting, the people of Blytheville started growing cotton. Blytheville was a huge agricultural community until 1980, when farming was increasingly mechanized. Since then, Blytheville has developed a growing industrial base, much of which is centered around the steel industry. Blytheville is the home to Arkansas Northeastern College, a two-year community college. It was formerly known as Mississippi County Community College until the merger with the Cotton Boll Technical Institute. Arkansas Northeastern College is the nation's first community college solar photovoltaic prototype facility. Until 1991, Blytheville was home to Blytheville Air Force Base later renamed to Eaker Air Force Base, a major airfield that was part of the Strategic Air Command.