Entry Category: Land and Resources - Starting with B

Bachman, Joseph

Joseph Bachman is widely recognized as Arkansas’s leading developer of grape varieties. During his career, he received national and international attention for his development of grape vines, winning several awards and supplying cuttings and plants to numerous nurseries. Joseph Bachman was born in 1853 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Little is known about his childhood, including his family, education, and early career. According to immigration records, Bachman arrived in New York on May 9, 1878, on a ship that had departed Le Havre, France, earlier that year. By 1881, following the advice of his relatives, Bachman had settled in the town of Altus (Franklin County), where many of his other countrymen resided. He held a wide array of occupations, serving as the …

Back-to-the-Land Movement

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, nearly one million people throughout the United States left urbanized areas for rural settings, intent on establishing themselves as “back-to-the-landers.” While many of these people moved to the Northeast or the West, which had long been centers of counter-cultural movements, a significant number were drawn to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It is difficult to state how many back-to-the-landers (BTLs) moved to Arkansas between 1968 and 1982, but rough estimates suggest that it was somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000. Nearly all of the BTLs who moved to the region were in their early to mid-twenties. On the whole, the BTLs were well educated, with over seventy percent having completed an undergraduate degree. Approximately …

Baitfish Industry

Arkansas leads the nation in the farming of bait and feeder fish, providing sixty-one percent of the value of all cultured baitfish in the country. Baitfish are small minnows used as fishing bait to catch predatory game fish such as crappie, catfish, walleye, and largemouth bass. Feeder fish are small fish sold as live food for fish and animals in aquariums and zoos. Six billion bait minnows—predominantly golden shiners, fathead minnows, and goldfish—are raised in Arkansas each year and shipped throughout the country. In 1998, the Census of Aquaculture recorded sixty-two baitfish farms in Arkansas. The annual farm-gate value of Arkansas baitfish production was $23 million; with an economic impact of six to seven times this amount, baitfish production contributes …

Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge

The Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) consists of 14,800 acres of forest wetlands and croplands lying along the Little Red River in White County. The refuge provides a habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds and various endangered species, as well as recreational and environmental educational opportunities. The refuge is located approximately two miles south of Bald Knob (White County). The Bald Knob refuge was acquired as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in 1993. Most of the land consists of a rice farm that had been owned by John Hancock Insurance Company. Unlike many wildlife refuges, Bald Knob NWR includes cropland that continues to be farmed, but much of the crop is left unharvested to feed …

Bauxite Mining

Bauxite is the principal ore of aluminum and is a mixture of aluminum oxides and hydroxides that formed from intense chemical weathering of a soil in tropical environments. Soils formed under these conditions are termed laterites. In Arkansas, the aluminum-enriched soils are the result of the decomposition and lateritic weathering of nepheline syenite, an intrusive igneous rock. During the weathering process, leaching by rain, groundwater, and salt spray decomposed the original syenite minerals (feldspar and nepheline). Weathering removed much of the silica and concentrated the newly formed aluminum oxides and hydroxides as the rock termed bauxite. Geologically, the soils formed from syenite and weathered to laterites in the Paleocene Epoch (65–55 million years ago) along the west edge of a …

Bayou Bartholomew

Located in southeast Arkansas, Bayou Bartholomew was, until the construction of railroad lines in the area in 1890, the most important stream for transportation in the interior Delta. While the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers served their adjoining areas, it was the bayou that provided a transportation route into an otherwise landlocked area. This route allowed the development of one of the richest timber and agricultural tracts in the Delta. Bayou Bartholomew has the distinction of being the longest bayou in the United States, beginning its meandering 359 miles in Jefferson County and passing through Lincoln, Desha, Drew, Chicot, and Ashley counties before proceeding into Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, where it eventually empties into the Ouachita River near Sterlington. The present bayou …

Bayou Meto

Bayou Meto is a slow-moving stream that originates in northern Pulaski County at the confluence of several creeks west of Little Rock Air Force Base and travels 150 miles south and east through Lonoke, Arkansas, and Jefferson counties before emptying into the Arkansas River a few miles southwest of Gillett (Arkansas County); it forms parts of the boundary lines between Lonoke and Prairie counties and Arkansas and Jefferson counties. The bayou has lent its name to different communities along its path, a Civil War action in Pulaski County, and the first wildlife management agency (WMA) established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The origins of the bayou’s name are a matter of debate. Some early French documents dub …

Beaver Dam and Lake

Beaver Lake was created by Beaver Dam in Carroll County. The lake—technically a reservoir since it was created by a manmade dam in order to store water—is located on the White River in the Ozark Highlands region of northwest Arkansas. Approximately seventy-three miles long and a maximum of two miles wide, the lake reaches from Eureka Springs (Carroll County) roughly to Fayetteville (Washington County). About 450 miles of shoreline extend through three counties: Benton, Carroll and Washington. The multi-purpose project provides flood control, hydroelectric generation, water supply, and recreation. While the possibility of a dam on the upper White River was examined as early as 1911, the first feasibility studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for constructing such …

Beef Industry

aka: Cattle Industry
The raising of beef cattle has been carried out in Arkansas since before the area became an American territory. Though not as prominent as the state’s poultry industry, the beef industry has an estimated $1.4 billion annual economic impact upon Arkansas. Undomesticated bison were present in Arkansas before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Both the expedition of Hernando de Soto and the Marquette-Joliet expedition reported the presence of these animals. Frenchmen in the area of Arkansas Post judged the land fit for raising cattle, and a general census of Arkansas Post in 1749 lists sixty cows among the livestock kept there. Early Anglo-American settlers brought cattle with them, as did the Cherokee, who began moving to Arkansas in …

Beekeeping

As of 2010, more than 1,500 Arkansas beekeepers have registered with the Arkansas State Plant Board, the vast majority of whom are hobbyists. Hobbyist beekeepers maintain fewer than five hives and do not rely upon beekeeping as their primary source of income. An estimated twenty-five to thirty commercial beekeepers operate in the state. The two types of beekeepers collectively manage more than 50,000 colonies, making Arkansas a significant national producer of honey. Commercial apiaries in Arkansas vary in size. Some commercial apiaries include Coy’s Honey Farm in Brookland (Craighead County), which is one of the largest; Clyde Gray in Jonesboro (Craighead County), who has hives from Jonesboro to Wynne (Cross County); Culp’s Honey Farm in Jonesboro; Richard’s Apiaries in Benton …

Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area

When Lake Conway was completed in 1951 in the Palarm Creek bottoms of southern Faulkner County, land for the development of the lake was left over, some of it being government surplus as part of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. Because the area was home to a wide variety of wildlife—deer, squirrels, and migrating ducks especially—the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), which had overseen the creation of Lake Conway, created Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which encompasses Grassy Lake. Bell Slough WMA covers 2,040 acres and is a mix of moist-soil wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, prairie, and upland hardwood and pine forest. The wetlands are managed as a waterfowl resting area, with water-control structures that allow the AGFC to …

Benton Utilities

Benton Utilities, also known as Benton Municipal Light and Waterworks, is one of the oldest continually operating institutions in Saline County. In the twenty-first century, the company serves most of Benton and its surrounding areas in Saline County. In its early days, Benton got its drinking water from the Saline River. It was not until 1914 that plans for a modern city-owned water and sewage system were laid out. In April 1914, R. C. Bailey was elected mayor of Benton on a platform of creating a municipal waterworks. In May 1914, Bailey and the city council “laid out plans for a system of engaging a firm of engineers to submit plans” for a municipal waterworks. On June 8, 1914, the …

Big Chalybeate Spring

The Big Chalybeate Spring is located approximately three miles north of downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) on present-day Park Avenue. Pronounced “kuh-lee-bit,” the spring is aptly named for its abundant iron and mineral content. References to the spring date as far back as December 7, 1804, during the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to survey the Louisiana Purchase, and again by Major Stephen Harriman Long during his January 1818 visit to Hot Springs. Having an average temperature of 79˚F, the spring is designated “thermal” by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. References to the spring appear in the Arkansas Gazette in both 1827 and 1829 as a potential resort destination due to its strong hydrological discharge …

Big Island

aka: Montgomery Island
Big Island in Desha County was once the largest island in the continental United States. It is bordered on the east by the Mississippi River. The northern boundary is formed by the White River and the new channel of the Arkansas River, and the western and southern boundaries are formed by the old channel of the Arkansas River. The island is indicated on some maps as “Big Island,” while others—including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maps—show it as “Montgomery Island,” named after William Montgomery, a prominent early settler in the area. Big Island is about eleven miles long and seven miles wide. However, the meanderings of the three rivers have caused many changes in the appearance of the island over the …

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the oldest inland national wildlife refuges. This 11,038-acre area is located in northeast Arkansas outside of Manila (Mississippi County), eighteen miles west of the Mississippi River. The refuge is one of over 540 national wildlife refuges administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is an important link for birds using the Mississippi migration corridor. The area was a free-flowing river system until the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812 shifted the land to its current environment of swamps and lake. The major habitat types of the refuge are bottomland hardwood forest, wooded swampland, and open water. These natural habitats support a wide variety of mammal, bird, and fish species. There …

Big Lake Wars

Competition and contention over an abundant (and unregulated) storehouse of northeastern Arkansas wildlife from the mid-1870s until 1915 led to violence and controversy known as the Big Lake Wars. Big Lake refers to a section of western Mississippi County created by the massive New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812. “War” may be a misleading description of the events because there were no formalities, declarations, truces, or settlements. However, the conflict had a lasting impact on the state and even on the nation. The Big Lake Wars pitted local residents, who were mostly poor, against affluent northerners, chiefly from St. Louis, Missouri. Early Arkansas maps labeled the sparsely populated area between Crowley’s Ridge and the Mississippi River as “the Great Swamp.” After …

Big Rock

Big Rock is the name now given to a 200-foot bluff located on the north bank of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). It is the first major outcrop of rock along the river, 121 miles upstream from the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers and about two miles upstream from a smaller outcrop known as the Little Rock, where the capital city of Arkansas developed. The first European to record the bluffs was French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe on April 9, 1722, when he took possession in the name of the French king, Louis XIV. His journal records that he named it “Le Rocher Français” (“French Rock”) and described it as having three …

Bioregionalism

aka: Ozark Area Community Congress
Bioregionalism is both a deep ecological philosophy and an apolitical, decentralized, volunteer egalitarian movement. Whereas environmentalists conserve to preserve the human environment—an anthropocentric view—bioregionalists re-inhabit, living simply and sustainably, to preserve all species—a biocentric view. Bioregionalists hold that if humanity is to avoid ecological and social collapse, people must recognize, nurture, sustain, and celebrate relations to land, air, plants, and animals; springs, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans; and families, friends, neighbors, and community. They also engage in local systems of production and trade whenever possible. A bioregion is a geographically defined landform, bounded by watersheds with distinct plants and animals. The Ozark Plateau is one of fifty discrete ecoregions on the North American continent. The Ozark Highlands cover north-central and northwestern …

Black Fork Mountain Wilderness

The Black Fork Mountain Wilderness is located in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. At an elevation of 2,403 feet, the east-west-oriented Black Fork Mountain, formed by a geologic uplift, features rock screes, or flows. The large rock flows, sometimes called “glaciers,” and sandstone bluffs stand above a forest dominated by oak and shortleaf pine. The U.S. Congress designated 13,139 acres as the Black Fork Mountain Wilderness in 1984. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and shared by Oklahoma and Arkansas (Arkansas has approximately 8,350 acres, while Oklahoma has approximately 4,789 acres), this area contains the thirteen-mile-long rugged ridge of Black Fork Mountain. In both states, the ridge rises to …

Black River

The Black River has played a significant, but shifting, role in the lives of residents of northeast Arkansas. For the early Native Americans who lived in the area, it was an essential food and transportation source. This remained true for European settlers in the days before roads and railroads. The river was also an essential “highway” for the flatboats and river steamers that transported people and goods to and from the area. The river supported the development of local industry as the means for moving timber from the forests to places such as the Sallee Brothers Handle Mill in Pocahontas (Randolph County), while mussel fishing supplied pearls and mother of pearl for the local button-making industry for many years. While …

Blaisdell, Frances Lillian (F.L.)

Frances Lillian (F. L.) Blaisdell, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businesswoman, was Arkansas’s first published woman cartographer and one of the first woman map makers in the nation. Shortly before her death in 1924, she became the first woman to serve on the Pulaski County Board of Equalization. Her maps and her atlas of Arkansas were widely distributed. F. L. Blaisdell was born in Augusta, Georgia, in January 1884, the only child of civil engineer, architect, and pioneer landscape architect Frank M. Blaisdell and his wife, Belle Burr Brace Blaisdell. From an early age, Blaisdell was fascinated with her father’s work in designing city parks and other landscapes. She was especially fascinated by surveying and map making. The family moved …

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Blanchard Springs Caverns (BSC) is a magnificent limestone cave system starting more than 200 feet underground in the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, fifteen miles northwest of Mountain View (Stone County). The only cave administered by the U.S. Forest Service, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Three guided tours through the caves are open to the public: the Dripstone Trail (open all year), the Discovery Trail (open during the summer), and the Wild Cave (open by special reservation). The limestone rock from which the cave developed was formed by fossilized sediment from sea creatures at the bottom of an ancient inland sea estimated to exist about 350–500 million years ago. When …

Blue Mountain Dam and Lake

Blue Mountain Lake is a manmade lake, or reservoir, on Petit Jean River in Logan County. A portion of the lake extends into Yell County. The dam was built in the 1940s as a flood-control project, but since its completion, the lake has also provided numerous recreational opportunities. It is named for Blue Mountain, an outcropping of Mount Magazine. Land patents on farmland where the lake now lies were granted to William Mobly, James Henard, and Augustus Ward, all in 1861. By 1891, an unincorporated community called Patsie had developed in the area. Several cemeteries had to be relocated during the development of the lake. In 1899, when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad was built to the north of …

Boston Mountains

The Boston Mountains in north-central Arkansas are the southern portion of the Ozark Plateau geologic area. The Ozark Mountains extend across northern Arkansas and southern Missouri; this dome of rocks has been a relatively high area for the past 1.5 billion years. The most recent uplift of the Ozarks, including the Boston Mountains, occurred about 300 million years ago, and the mountains have been weathering and eroding since that time. This highland has the greatest relief (difference in the elevation from the valley bottoms to the mountain tops) of any formation between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. The Boston Mountains portion of the Ozarks extends north of the Arkansas River Valley as a rectangle twenty to thirty-five miles …