Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Arkansas

ARKANSAS, one of the south-western states of the North American Union, situated between lat. 33° and 36° 30′ N., and long. 89° 45′, and 94° 40′ W., with an area of 52,198 square miles. It is bounded N. by Missouri, E. by Tennessee and Mississippi, from which it is separated by the Mississippi River, S. by Louisiana, and W. by the Indian territory. It belongs to the great basin of the Mississippi, being watered by that river and by several of its main tributaries, which are all more or less navigable. Of these the principal are the St Francis, in the north-east; the White River with its affluents, the Cache, Little Red, and Black Rivers in the north; and notably the Arkansas, which, entering the state at Fort Smith, traverses it in a south-easterly direction until it joins the Mississippi at Napoleon. The southern part of the state is watered by the Washita in the east, and by a bend of the Red River in the west. The eastern part of the state, bordering on the Mississippi, is low and swampy, and is annually overflowed. Westward the country gradually attains a greater elevation, passing off into hills and undulating prairies, which lead up to the Ozark Mountains, beyond which, again, an elevated plain stretches towards the Rocky Mountains.
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Sketch Map of Arkansas.

The Ozark Mountains do not exceed 2000 feet in height, and the only other great masses of elevation are the Black Hills and the Washita Hills. A geological survey of the whole territory was commenced at the state expense by Dr David D. Owen, in 1857, and two volumes of Reports were published in 1858 and 1860. In the district north of the Arkansas River, the three leading formations are the “mill-stone grit, with its associate shales and conglomerate; the subcarboniferous limestone and its associate chert, shales, and sandstones; and the magnesian limestones, and their associate sandstones, calciferous sand-rocks and chert, belonging to the lower Silurian period.” The mineral products are reported to be very considerable, “including zinc, manganese, iron, lead, and copper; marble, whet and hone stones, rock-crystal, paints, nitre-earths, kaolin, granite, freestone, limestone, marls, greensand, marly limestones, grindstones, and slate.” The zinc ores are said to compare very favourably with those of Silesia, while the argentiferous galena produces a high average percentage of silver. Of coal, anthracite, and lignite, there are abundant supplies. A great number of mineral and thermal springs occur in various parts of the state, the most remarkable and most frequented groups lying to the south of the Arkansas in Hot Springs county. The heat of several attains 146° or 148° Fahr. Among what are called natural curiosities may be mentioned the sandstone dam across Lee's Creek in Crawfurd county, the Mammoth Spring in Fulton, which is supposed to have underground connection with Howel's Valley in Missouri, and is said to pour forth its water “at the rate of 8000 (?) barrels per minute,” the Bee Rock in White county, and the crystalline productions of Magnet Cove. It need hardly be said that there is great variety of soil in such a state as Arkansas. Along the river “bottoms” the alluvium is dark, rich, and deep, and yields excellent crops. The chief crops cultivated are maize, wheat, cotton, and tobacco, as well as apples and other fruits. There is a natural flora of great richness, a complete list of which is given in Dr Owen's second report. The trees and shrubs most frequently occurring are poplars, oaks, pines, sweet-gum, sycamore, black locust, ash, elm, hickory, dogwood, elder, palma-christi, black spice, papaw, mockernut, wild vine, &c. The fauna of Arkansas includes the buffalo, eland, red-deer, beaver, otter, hare, racoon, wild turkey, goose, and quail, as well as bears and wolves among the mountains. The climate of the lower districts is decidedly unhealthy, largely on account of the lack of wholesome water; but in the upper regions it is quite salubrious. Hitherto Arkansas has been mainly agricultural, but it is rapidly advancing in the development of its mineral wealth, in the extension of its railway communication, in the embankment and guidance of its rivers, in the reclaiming of its waste but fertile lands, in the progress of manufactures and industries, and in the establishment of educational and benevolent institutions. At the census of 1870 the population amounted to 484,471, comprising 362,115 whites and 122,169 coloured persons. In 1860 the population amounted to 435,450, so that an increase of more than 10 per cent. has taken place between these two periods, principally in the white population. The capital is Little Rock, originally a French settlement, situated on the Arkansas River, and occupying a very central position in the state; population, 18,000. Arkansas was first colonised by the French, in the 17th century, and in 1720 Louis XV. made a grant of land on the Arkansas to the well-known John Law, but this led to no results of importance. In 1763 the territory was handed over to Spain, but returned to France in 1800. In 1803 it was purchased by the United States, along with the rest of what was then called Louisiana, and was established as a separate non-Indian territory in 1819. It was received into the Union as a slave state in 1836; and during the American Civil War, 1861-65, its Convention sided with the Confederate States, joining that organisation May 6, 1861.

Arkansas, a river of North America, which rises in the Rocky Mountains, in lat. 39° N., long. 106° W., 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, flows with a generally eastward direction through Colorado and part of Kansas, then turns to the south-east, and so proceeds through the rest of Kansas, the north-east part of the Indian territory, and the state to which it gives its name, and finally falls into the Mississippi at Napoleon in lat. 33° 40′ N. The length of its course is stated at 2170 miles, and its drainage-area at 178,000 square miles. It receives a large number of tributaries, of which the most important are the Cimarron, Rio Nutria, and Canadian River. It is navigable for steamboats of about 4 feet draught 40 miles above Little Rock, and during flood for some 150 miles further to Fort Gibson.

VOL.II. [Compiled according to Census of 1880 and latest surveys.] PLATE A.
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