Bentonville, Arkansas, had barely recovered from the burning in 1862 by Union forces and intentional fires set by Confederate sympathizers when thoughts turned to a railroad. On April 6, 1870 Bentonville held a railroad convention to create support for the proposed Arkansas Western Railway that would link Bentonville with the outside world via Pineville, Missouri. The convention had no tangible results, a pattern for the next twelve years. A railroad convention consisted of a series of meetings where promoters tried to obtain financial subsidies and land contributions to build a railroad. Many railroad promoters of this era were bunco artists preying on the desire to towns and cities to attain prominence by having a railroad. In August 1870 Fayetteville, Arkansas, hosted the Arkansas Railroad Convention. The object was the construction of a line from Verona, Missouri on the South Pacific Railroad via Cassville and Washburn in Missouri, to Bentonville and Fayetteville and a terminus at Fort Smith. This project. the Fort Smith-State line, involved Boston capitalists that were building the South Pacific line to Peirce City, Missouri. The Fayetteville convention too was a failure, as nothing happened.
In 1873 Bentonville became the Benton County seat and regained its city charter. A railroad would make travel to places such as Little Rock or St. Louis much easier. To reach Peirce City (now called Pierce City), Missouri, in 1875 to connect with the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad was a test of endurance. The Bentonville traveler would connect with the 1:00 a.m. stage from Fayetteville. The trip to Peirce City took thirteen hours and the one way stage ticket cost a hefty six dollars. Travelers seeking a rail connection at Alma on the Fort Smith & Little Rock Railroad faced a similar challenge. Their stage left Fayetteville at 1:00 a.m. and required a thirteen-hour trip through the Boston Mountains. A trip from Bentonville via Fort Smith, Arkansas, to St. Louis required fifty-four hours including stage and rail.
In April 1878, the newly formed Northwest Arkansas Railroad attracted widespread interest. This line hoped to run from Plymouth, Missouri (a township 4.7 miles east of Peirce City, Missouri that was renamed Monett in 1887) on the main line of the St. Louis & San Francisco ("the Frisco") to Bentonville by December 9, 1878 and Fayetteville by March 1, 1879. According to General Meyer, the promoter, once the line to Fayetteville was finished, the city would be linked with a new line through the Boston Mountains from Alma, Arkansas. The line was a certainty, as Major McCarthy, the civil engineer in charge, had extensive railroad experience. The Peirce City Empire of May 16, 1878 reported that survey work had begun. In June 1878 the Fayetteville Democrat speculated that "the surveying corps has reached Bentonville by this date," The next month the Peirce City Record reported the Northwest Arkansas Railroad had selected a route via Corsicanna, Missouri and Washburn, Missouri. The breathless paper account stated "the citizens of Bentonville can rest assured that not many more aged will die in that country without seeing the cars." By August 1878 the rosy picture darkened. Newspaper reports said that General Meyer had asked the Arkansas counties of Washington and Benton to provide subsidies of $8,000 and $7,000 each. The funds would qualify the line for a Federal land grant that would permit the line to reach Bentonville and Fayetteville. This risky proposal attracted neither further interest nor money. The Northwest Arkansas Railroad project sputtered out in the final months of 1878 after some fifteen miles of terrain had been graded southwest of Plymouth, Missouri.