Entries - Entry Category: Land and Resources - Starting with M

Mammoth Spring

Mammoth Spring is the largest spring in the state of Arkansas, the second largest in the Ozark Mountains region, and the seventh largest in the United States. This National Natural Landmark is located within the boundaries of Mammoth Spring State Park. Approximately 497 feet from the Missouri state line in north-central Arkansas, it is within sight of U.S. Highway 63 and the city of Mammoth Spring (Fulton County). Though the spring has always been known as “big” or “mammoth,” the first known settlers in the 1820s created a small village called “Head of the River,” which would later be renamed Mammoth Spring. Water flows from the spring at an average rate of 9.78 million gallons per hour, with a constant …

Manganese Mining

The mining of manganese ore was a very important economic activity in Arkansas between 1849 and 1959. The region around Batesville (Independence County)—including about 100 square miles located in northwestern Independence County, southeastern Izard County, and northeastern Stone County—has produced more than ninety-eight percent of the manganese ore shipped from Arkansas. A second area including portions of Polk and Montgomery counties also contains manganese ores. The first commercial exploitation of manganese was by Colonel Matthew Martin. Between 1848 and 1850, Martin purchased large tracts of land containing the ore, and, between 1850 and 1852, he shipped small quantities of manganese from Penter’s Bluff (Izard County) on the White River to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and even Liverpool, England, where it …

Massard Prairie

As one of three naturally occurring prairies located near Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Massard Prairie was first described in Thomas Nuttall’s A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819. The prairie gave its name to a community that is now within the city limits of Fort Smith; the prairie itself has largely been developed and is no longer recognizable as such. These prairies were described and mapped well before the Louisiana Purchase. According to local tradition, Massard Prairie takes its name from T. Jean Massard, a French captain whose land grant was approximately 18,000 acres, the northern boundary being the Arkansas River. It was laid out in a French fashion called “longlots,” with strips of land …

Maumelle and Little Maumelle Rivers

aka: Lake Maumelle
The Maumelle River flows from small streams originating in the Ouachita National Forest in Perry County eastward to empty into the Arkansas River upstream from Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its most prominent feature is an 8,900-acre manmade lake, which supplies drinking water for ninety-five percent of the residents of Pulaski County. The river is named for a rock formation in western Pulaski County. Now called Pinnacle Mountain, it was dubbed “Mamelle” by French explorers early in the nineteenth century for the French word for “breast.” The Maumelle River flows to the north of Pinnacle Mountain; a second river, called the Little Maumelle River, flows to the south of the same mountain. Some area residents refer to the Maumelle River as …

Mercury Mining

Mercury, which was first mined in Arkansas in 1931, is in most rock types in trace amounts, generally occurring at higher levels in shale and clay-rich sediments and organic materials like coal than in sandstone, limestone, or dolostone. Although mercury was widely used in the past for several applications, the market for products containing mercury steadily declined in the 1980s because it was recognized to be toxic. It still has important uses, however, in the chemical and electrical industries as well as in dental applications and measuring and control devices. The mercury-bearing district in southwest Arkansas occupies an area six miles wide by thirty miles long, extending from eastern Howard County through Pike County and into western Clark County. Surface …

Midland Holm

Midland Holm was a 5,000-acre plantation situated in the Oil Trough Bottoms on the White River in Independence County. It was established by Virgil Young (V. Y.) Cook. Described by his contemporaries as a young man “with keen foresight and ability, coupled with indomitable energy,” Cook, at age eighteen, began life in Arkansas as a merchant in Grand Glaise (Jackson County) in 1866. Showing an early interest in the Oil Trough Bottoms, he bought his first eighty acres there in 1873 for $500. He would eventually own a plantation of 5,000 acres of the fertile bottomland, making him the largest landowner in the county. After being appointed receiving agent for the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, Cook moved with the railroad …

Military Farm Colonies (Arkansas Delta)

As the Federal army moved across Arkansas during the Civil War, thousands of newly freed slaves attached themselves to military units and eventually began to amass in Union strongholds. Helena (Phillips County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) were just two of the towns where Union commanders struggled to provide for this massive influx of refugees. As more freedmen arrived at Helena after it fell to Union forces in 1862, military officers worked to alleviate the strain these civilians put on the supply lines. Eventually, a program that saw some success in Tennessee and Mississippi was adopted by the commanders at Helena. Realizing that the freedmen were an untapped source of labor, Union officers east of the Mississippi River leased abandoned …

Military Farm Colonies (Northwestern Arkansas)

During the Civil War, thousands of Arkansas civilians became displaced and relied on either the Federal or Confederate governments to provide basic necessities. These non-combatants strained military resources, and commanders searched for ways to make these refugees self-sufficient. With many Unionist families in northwestern Arkansas, Federal commanders created a program that allowed groups to grow subsistence crops and work together to provide mutual self-defense from enemy units. The colonies in northwestern Arkansas were established around the families of white Unionists, while other colonies in central and eastern Arkansas were populated by freedmen and their families. By the spring of 1864, years of war had taken a toll on the agricultural output of northwestern Arkansas, and thousands of people were forced …

Military Land Grants

aka: Military Bounty Warrants
The system of granting free land in the public domain to men who served the United States during military conflicts—or, in the case of their death, to their heirs—was implemented in 1788. Following the Revolutionary War, this system of issuing military bounty warrants served as a way for the cash-poor United States to use large tracts of land to meet its obligations to soldiers. Warrants for Revolutionary War service were issued under acts of 1788, 1803, and 1806. The first series of warrants for the War of 1812 were issued under acts of 1811, 1812, and 1814. Some of the land set aside for these warrants was located in what would become Arkansas. Before any warrants could be issued, the …

Millwood Dam and Lake

Millwood Dam, which impounds Millwood Lake on the Little River, was constructed between 1961 and 1966 at a cost of $46.1 million as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project to control flooding on the lower Red River, into which the Little River empties near the town of Fulton (Hempstead County). The lake created by the dam spills across the borders of four counties—Sevier, Little River, Howard, and Hempstead—and provides a variety of recreational opportunities for southwestern Arkansas. The 3.3-mile-long, earthen Millwood Dam is the longest of its kind in Arkansas. Millwood Dam, located east of Ashdown (Little River County), was made possible by the federal Flood Control Act of 1946, though opposition within the state and …

Mining

Mining is defined as the extraction of valuable minerals or stone (mineral resources) from the earth, usually from an ore body, vein, or bed. Materials mined in Arkansas include base metals, iron, vanadium, coal, diamonds, crushed and dimension stone, barite, tripoli, quartz crystal, gypsum, chalk, and bauxite. Mineral resources are non-renewable, unlike agricultural products or factory-produced materials. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource, including petroleum, natural gas, bromine brine, or even water. These resources are recovered by extractive methods that differ from those of normal surface or underground “hard rock” mining methods. Early settlers in the Arkansas Territory used several local mineral commodities. These included galena (lead ore), hematite and goethite (brown iron ores), saline …

Mississippi Alluvial Plain

aka: Mississippi Delta
aka: Arkansas Delta
aka: Delta
aka: Mississippi River Delta
aka: Mississippi River Valley
The Mississippi Alluvial Plain (a.k.a. Delta) is a distinctive natural region, in part because of its flat surface configuration and the dominance of physical features created by the flow of large streams. This unique physiography occupies much of eastern Arkansas including all or parts of twenty-seven counties. The Alluvial Plain, flatter than any other region in the state, has elevations ranging from 100 to 300 feet above sea level. In Arkansas, the Alluvial Plain extends some 250 miles in length from north to south and varies in width from east to west from only twelve miles in Desha County to as much as ninety-one miles measured from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Mississippi River. The work of large rivers …

Mississippi Flyway

The Mississippi Flyway is one of four loosely defined routes used by some species of migratory birds as they travel each autumn from breeding areas in northern North America to wintering sites in the southern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America, and back again in spring. Other North American flyways are the Atlantic, to the east of the Mississippi Flyway; the Central, through the Plains states; and the Pacific, west of the Rocky Mountains. In northern latitudes, summer brings long days and abundant insects and other invertebrates for food, conducive to nesting success for birds. Winter, however, means harsh weather conditions, the disappearance of invertebrates, and frozen lakes and rivers. As a result, most birds nesting in the …

Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is the largest and most important river in North America. This great river, often referred to as the “Mighty Mississippi,” originates as a small brook flowing out of Lake Itasca in Minnesota and, 2,340 miles later, empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It is truly one of the nation’s most important assets. Covering forty-one percent of the forty-eight contiguous United States, its watershed stretches across the heart of the nation. This vast river system, which includes several large tributaries, drains 1,260,000 square miles, making it the largest drainage basin in terms of area in North America and the third largest in the world. Significance to Arkansas The Mississippi River is a dominant physical feature of many states …

Missouri Bootheel

While most of Arkansas’s boundary with Missouri runs along the line of latitude thirty-six degrees, thirty minutes north, in the extreme northeast corner, the border between states extends downward along the St. Francis River to thirty-six degrees north, where it then runs east to the Mississippi River. A straight line boundary, as was originally envisioned, would have added some 980 square miles, or 627,000 acres, to the state of Arkansas. Instead, Missouri gained a “bootheel.” Culturally and economically, the region has much more in common with Arkansas than with the rest of Missouri. “Arkansas in denial” is how area residents explain their anomalous condition. Carl Bailey (1894–1948), the thirty-first governor of Arkansas and a native of Bernie, Missouri, was one …

Moosberg, Carl Avriette

Cotton breeder Carl Avriette Moosberg demonstrated that advances in the early maturing of cotton were possible. His Rex variety, introduced in 1957, reduced expense for pesticide by shortening the time required to maturity, while offering disease resistance and strong fiber. The success of Rex encouraged all major cottonseed companies to develop earlier maturing cotton varieties. Moosberg’s research improved the economics of growing cotton in Arkansas in the mid 1900s. Carl Moosberg was born on August 24, 1905, in Tyler, Texas, the third of four sons born to Frank Olaf Moosberg and Anna Trofast, immigrants from Sweden. He graduated from high school in Wills Point, Texas, in 1923 and went to work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in …

Mount Magazine

Mount Magazine is the highest point in Arkansas at 2,753 feet above sea level and is the centerpiece of Mount Magazine State Park. The mountain is located between the communities of Waveland and Corley in Logan County. Mount Magazine has attracted national attention due to its population of rare butterflies such as the Diana fritillary; in fact, ninety-four of Arkansas’s 134 species of butterflies live on Mount Magazine. Native American tools such as projectile points and pottery shards have been found there. However, there is no evidence to suggest there were permanent Native American settlements on the mountain. French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bernard de La Harpe is believed to have been the first European to have seen Mount Magazine, when he …

Mountain Fork River

aka: Mountain Fork of the Little River
The Mountain Fork River is a 158 km (98 mi.) tributary of the Little River in far west-central western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. There are two major portions of the river: the upper Mountain Fork and the lower Mountain Fork. On the Arkansas side, the Mountain Fork belongs within the Ouachita Mountains natural division, Fourche Mountains subdivision, and just within the Red River system of the state. The headwaters of the upper course begin in the Ouachita Mountains (Weehunt Mountain) of Polk County, Arkansas, at the town of Mountain Fork on Arkansas Highway 8 where it then flows southward under Highway 246 (at a low water bridge) for about 16 km (9.8 mi.). Farther south, it then takes a right …

Mulberry River

The Mulberry River, a tributary of the Arkansas River, rises from the intersection of several streams in the Ozark Mountains of northern Franklin County and Johnson County. It flows generally southwest from its source and empties into the Arkansas River south of the city of Mulberry (Crawford County), for a total length of approximately seventy miles. Reportedly named for the number of mulberry trees growing in its vicinity, it is today well known among canoeists. The area around the Mulberry River has been the site of human habitation as far back as approximately 10,000 BC. In historic times, the Osage Indians claimed much of this part of Arkansas, including the area drained by the Mulberry River, as their hunting grounds. …

Muscadine

aka: Vitus rotundifolia
Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are grapes native to Arkansas and other parts of the southeastern United States. The grapes have thick skins, large seeds, and a unique, soft, musky-flavored pulp. Cultivars can vary in color from almost white to nearly black. Common names for dark-fruited muscadines include bullace, bull grape, and Southern Fox. The term “scuppernong” is often used to refer to all bronze-fruited varieties, but it is actually the name of a specific muscadine cultivar. The muscadine cultivars most commonly grown in Arkansas for commercial juice and wine production include Carlos, a bronze cultivar that produces light-colored products and white wine, and Noble, a dark cultivar that makes deep-red products. Consumers who are accustomed to the unique qualities of muscadines, …

Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie

The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart (Arkansas County)—also known as the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum and the Arkansas County Museum—was formed in 1974 by two lifelong Arkansas County residents, Bennie Burkett and Jack Crum, in order to preserve Arkansas County’s heritage as a center for rice production and duck hunting. The museum is funded partly by quarterly donations from the city but mostly by yearly contributions from “the donor club.” Its board of trustees is appointed by the city council. The construction of the museum began after a nonprofit group of interested citizens raised funds to build a 1,500-square-foot building on the property of the city park. It was finished in 1974. Through the years, four additions have …