Virtual Travel – Arkansas

Today’s stop on the virtual tour of the United States is Arkansas. Located in the south central part of the country it is a state I have only visited a couple of times, and then very briefly. I have however managed to collect 34 different years of state highway maps.

The only photo I have taken with Arkansas actually is 1/2 Texas – Texarkana Post Office and Courthouse – literally split down the middle by the two states.

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We start today’s tour with a 1958 map highlighting a freeway interchange in Little Rock. While there have been limited access highways in the United States since the 1930s, the U.S. President in the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower, was a strong proponent on the improvement of the road system in the country. As a result the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was passed.

This act authorized the construction of 41,000 miles of limited access (no crossroads, etc) freeways. While some states had made some significant progress by 1958, in Arkansas it was limited – the exit shown was one of just a handful in the state.

Government State Arkansas 1958.jpg

 

 

 

We move ahead 10 years to 1968 and find the cover with a nice view of the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks aren’t particularly high, reaching a maximum elevation of 2,560.

While the Ozarks reach into Missouri, they are best known as part of Arkansas. As this photo shows the terrain is tree covered with numerous rock outcroppings. In addition there are a number of scenic rivers and lakes.

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The 1970 map starts an amazingly long period where the look of the maps do not change. The maps are consistently basic, with the inside being the statewide map, and the backside having a few city maps. Unlike most states there is little in the way of tourist information like guides to parks.

The covers continue to highlight the natural scenery with this view of the Ouachita Mountains. Much like the Ozarks they are relatively small, tree covered mountains. As the map notes this view is overlooking the Hot Springs National Park. Situated next to the city of the same name Hot Springs has long been an attraction.

The town has famous and infamous periods, including being an attractive location during prohibition for people like Al Capone to come hang out. The town has a collection of historic bathhouses and many other architectural significant buildings.

Government State Arkansas 1970.jpg

 

This checkered history is celebrated with a statue of Al outside the Ohio Club in Hot Springs. (photo from Dayton Daily news website).

Statue of Al Capone outside the Ohio Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 

 

 

By 1972 the Interstate System was nearing initial completion. This view features Crimson Clover for ground cover.

More than just a 1960s pop song, Crimson clover is a winter annual and herbaceous legume. The leaves and stems of crimson clover resemble those of red clover, but the leaves are round-tipped with more hair on the stems and leaves. Seedlings grow rapidly from the crown forming a rosette. This rosette enlarges as weather becomes favorable. In the spring, the flower stems develop rapidly and end their growth with long, pointed conical flower heads comprised of 75 to 125 florets. Florets are a bright crimson color and open in succession from the bottom to the top

Government State Arkansas 1972.jpg

 

This image (from the internet) gives a nice closeup of Crimson Clover.

Crimson Clover | Best Forage

 

 

 

The 1973 map has a view of Little Rock, the largest city and capital. With about 700,000 people in the area it makes up about 20% of the states population.

With it’s location near the Ouachita Mountains, the city is made up of some rolling hills, along the Arkansas River.

Government State Arkansas 1973.jpg

This photo from the internet shows that the skyline has changed little in the 40 + years since this map was published.

 

 

 

For the American bicentennial the cover is a tribute to the early pioneers.

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The eastern border of Arkansas is the lower Mississippi River. This area is known as the Arkansas Delta, which has geographic similarities to their neighbors in Mississippi. It is the region where cotton is grown.

The area is dotted with lakes, many of them as a result of the river changing course over time. The bald cypress tress shown here are typical of the area.

The area is also known for their music, including blues and country. The most famous person from this area is Johnny Cash.

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The Arkansas State Capitol is featured on the 1979 map. As with the vast majority of state capitol buildings in the country it is built in the Neoclassical style. This building is much newer than many other state capitols, having been completed in 1915.

Government State Arkansas 1979.jpg

 

 

 

For 1981 the photographer chose a view of a small river (the Spring River), a two lane road and a train.

Government State Arkansas 1981.jpg

 

 

 

The Interstate 40 bridge linking West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee is featured on the 1982 cover. Covering a distance of 9400 feet, and rising over 100 feet above the river, the official name for this bridge is Hernando de Soto Bridge. The two arches of the bridge are to represent the letter ‘M’ (for Memphis), hence the nickname of the structure is the M bridge.

Government State Arkansas 1982.jpg

 

This photo from the internet shows the bridge at night with the ‘M’ lit up. Photo by Trevor Birchett.

 

 

 

The photo for the 1984 edition shows the early fall scene in Garland County. With Arkansas being located in the south this scene likely dates from late October or early November.

Garland County is the home of Hot Springs.

Government State Arkansas 1984.jpg

 

 

 

Another year (1985) another two lane road in the woods. This time we are in Yell County. Strangely this relatively small county, in both population and square miles, has two county seats. In addition it is a ‘dry’ county, with no alcohol sales. Perhaps that is why they Yell.

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The Interstate 430 bridge over the Arkansas River at Little Rock is shown on the 1986 map. This freeway bypasses the city to the west.

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The 1987 map has a radical departure on the look of the title on the cover, but not much else. More bridges and roads through the countryside.

Government State Arkansas 1987.jpg

 

 

 

Once again in 1989 the scene goes unidentified. But good news – there is a bridge involved.

Government State Arkansas 1989.jpg

 

 

 

For 1990 we get a return of the red backgrounds for the titles, along with descriptions of the scene. This view is from Highway 7 in Perry County, with a dogwood tree in full bloom in the foreground.

Government State Arkansas 1990.jpg

 

 

Perry County is home to a huge Goat Festival (photo from KARK TV station). The festival attracts 4000 people to the small town of Perrysville.

Goat Festival Perryville AR 201710 KSJ_5638ps_1538704669851.jpg.jpg

 

 

 

Big changes for the Arkansas map in 1993 – Bill Clinton, a native son was elected president. Unfortunately they have returned to photos of generic scenes without descriptions. This pattern continued for the next few years.

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1994

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1995

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1996

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For 1998 the descriptions have returned. This mountain scene is U.S. Highway 65 near the Buffalo National River in Searcy County.

Government State Arkansas 1998.jpg

 

 

Searcy County is known as the Chocolate Roll Capital of the World. A chocolate roll is a crust filled with chocolate. A recipe found on the internet could be a good thing to fill some time today….

Searcy County Chocolate Roll

Pastry:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/4 c. cold water
dash of salt

Filling:
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/3 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. sugar

Incorporate all pastry ingredients into a pie crust-like dough. Roll out. Cream together cocoa powder, sugar and butter and spread on surface of pie crust. Roll from one end, tucking in sides like you would a burrito. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and molten. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

In 2001 we visit Beaver Lake Dam in Carroll County. The dam has created a large lake that provides recreation as well as drinking water for much of Northwest Arkansas.

Government State Arkansas 2001.jpg

 

 

 

A Corvette and a country road back in Perry County. Since this county is dry too, they are likely headed to the next county to buy a bottle of wine for dinner.

Government State Arkansas 2002.jpg

 

 

 

In 1803 the United States purchased a massive area (828,000 square miles) of land from France for only $15 million dollars. What seems like a good deal was likely a better deal for France as they really didn’t control most of the land – it was still inhabited by Native Americans. The U.S. was buying ‘preemptive’ rights to obtain the Native lands by treaty or conquest (steal).

The entire state of Arkansas was included in this deal.

Government State Arkansas 2003.jpg

 

 

 

To get your Kicks on Route 66 in Arkansas you have to go to Stone County and take the state highway with that number, since the famed U.S. highway of the same number did not go through the state, although it went nearby in southwest Missouri.

Government State Arkansas 2004.jpg

 

 

 

The 2005 map shows the field of daisies at an Interstate interchange. Given the view you would think that the daisy would be the state flower but it is not. The state flower is the apple blossom, a tribute to the time when Arkansas was a large apple producing state, which it no longer is.

Government State Arkansas 2005.jpg

 

 

 

The 1956 Interstate Act 50th anniversary is celebrated on the 2006 map. Ironically neither of the two freeways shown here are interstates, they are both state routes.

Government State Arkansas 2006.jpg

 

 

 

The tunnel shown here is the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. It is the only vehicular tunnel in Arkansas.

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For 2009 the cover shows the recently completed Greenville Bridge, a cable stayed design over the Mississippi River. Construction of this bridge took 16 years.

The new bridge replaced one built in 1940.

Government State Arkansas 2009.jpg

 

 

 

Hot Springs National Park is the scene again for the 2010 map.

Government State Arkansas 2010.jpg

 

As noted previously there are numerous bathhouses in Hot Springs, including one that was in the park itself. The Ozark Bathhouse was closed in 1977 and restored as the National Park Visitor Center. (photo from NPS site)

Ozark Bathhouse viewed from Central Avenue, looking up the front steps.

 

 

 

Another two lane road in 2011 – this time in Pope County. Located in the north central part of the state it is home to the town of Russellville. It is yet again another dry county.

Government State Arkansas 2011.jpg

 

 

 

Logan County is featured on the cover of the 2013 map. This county was originally called Sarber County, after John Sarber, when it was formed in 1871, but the locals felt Mr Sarber was a carpetbagger, so they renamed the county for an early settler James Logan.

Like most of the scenes in the series of Arkansas maps, it is located in the Ozark Mountains.

Government State Arkansas 2013.jpg

 

 

The theme continues in 2015 with this scene from Stone County.

Government State Arkansas 2015.jpg

 

 

 

 

The historic Lawrence County Courthouse is featured on the 2016 map. The courthouse is part of the Powhatan Historic State Park. And yes Lawrence County is like most of north and west Arkansas in that the county is dry. Lets move on to California so we can have a beer!

Government State Arkansas 2016.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississippi Delta – National Parks Road Trip – Day 21 –Mississippi Blues Trail

Shortly after leaving for the day we arrived in downtown Texarkana, at the state line of the city where the US Post Office straddles the state line between Texas and Arkansas. A nice old lady who had come to pick up her mail from her post office box took our photo at the state line marker in front of the post office. Now that we saw the one thing to see in Texarkana, we moved on essentially driving straight through to Vicksburg, Mississippi (while going through Louisiana – my last of the lower 48 states).

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The Vicksburg visitor center, overlooking the Mississippi River, provided us information on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Outside on the property at the Visitor Center were cannons from the Civil War and a train crossing an old bridge passing a riverboat casino.

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We paused for lunch in Vicksburg at Rouxater, a small cafe and bakery. We ate chicken salad sandwiches with some sweet tea. The chicken salad was not tasty and it was on stale white bread. Ugh! We went to the Coke a Cola museum next door after lunch. It featured a soda fountain that used coke syrup to make the cola at the fountain. The museum had all the equipment from long ago to mix the ingredients. One bottle was made at a time to fill a case and then sent for delivery for purchase. Lots of other Coke items were seen as we wandered through the store as well as hundreds of old bottles of Coke lining the shelved walls. I have often heard of Vicksburg being beautiful but that day, and the places we went it seemed an old tired river town.

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Leaving Vicksburg heading north on the legendary Route 61, aka – Blues Highway, we passed cotton fields on our way north and listened to blues music by B.B King, Muddy Waters and others making our way through Mississippi, home of the Delta blues. Interestingly while it used to take throngs of people to pick the cotton, as we drove we would see one lonely, huge, John Deer combine picking the entire field with one guy sitting in the air conditioned cab (likely NOT listening to the blues).

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The Blues Trail led us to Rolling Fork where McKinley Morganfield, aka, Muddy Waters lived as a child. There was a bold blue marker with a small record at its peak designating it part of the Blues Trail along with a tribute guitar with Muddy’s signature and noting the town of Rolling Fork in one of his song lyrics. We saw the shotgun cabin where he lived. The term shotgun cabin came to be known from the way that a gunshot could run through all the rooms in a straight line since the rooms are stacked behind each other without a hallway and one had to walk through one room to get to the next room. The cabin was incredibly small. In fact, it was really only half the size of an actual sharecropper’s home. Rolling Fork also had a carved statue of Teddy Roosevelt and a bear. We saw bear crossing signs in the city limits.

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The cotton fields are bright white for acres in all directions as we drove on the Blues Trail Highway. A crop duster sprayed fields; it was truly amazing to see how low he flew over the crops. Huge machines picked cotton as we continued through Mississippi. Bits of cotton lined the edge of the road so I suddenly stopped the car and ordered her to go pick cotton. He wanted a ball of cotton as a souvenir and the joy of me picking it. She grabbed a dirty little ball of cotton left at the side of the road hoping that we do not infest the flora back home when we get there.

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We got to Leland, Mississippi mid afternoon to see the B. B. King Museum. The museum had a theater and a lot of history about B.B. King’s life and stages of his success. King’s real name is Riley King but he changed it when he went to Tennessee to start his career in music. He named his guitar Lucille when he went back into a burning building to save his guitar from the fire that was started by a woman named Lucille who caused a brawl between the men and tipped over the heater fuel that started the fire. The museum noted that King began with gospel music but when his gospel band didn’t want to go to Tennessee with him, King moved there on his own. He needed a catchy name for his new radio show in Memphis: “Beale Street Blues Boy” was shortened to “Blues Boy King” and finally to B.B. King. The museum also exhibited the hard times that King and his band encountered because of prejudice and Jim Crow Laws in the south. B. B. King passed away in 2015 and is buried on the museum property.

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Late afternoon found us at our hotel, a Holiday Inn Express in Greenville, Mississippi. As we checked in the desk clerk said ‘have you heard about our water here in the Delta?’. Why no – what about the water. It seems it has a brown haze to it (think Marty McFly in Back to the Future III when he is in the cabin), but they assured us it was safe, but if liked we could get some bottles of water for free – which we took them up on. And yes the water is a dirty color.

The desk manager recommended a BBQ diner called Tabb’s for us and we took off to find some good eats. We drove for a while but could not find the restaurant. We asked a man in the parking lot where we thought it should be and he said it closed down a while ago. I guess the Holiday Express needs a concierge. We drove to the end of town and decided on Revel’s Steakhouse, we both had shrimp. Our plates were piled high with so much food that neither of us could finish our meals. The rice had a distinct flavor that I did not recognize so Allison our waitress brought a sample for us to take with us. The flavoring is called Cavender Greek Seasoning and comes from the Ozark region in Arkansas.

We drove across town to see the mighty Mississippi River. The road led us to the top of the levee. The river here is stronger and wider than where we saw the trickling stream of the headwaters in Minnesota. I read a marker that noted the river rose 64.2 feet at this point in 2011 as we sat and watched the sun set on the river.

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