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

Ray, Mary Lee McCrary

Mary L. Ray spent thirty-seven years educating African Americans. She applied the self-help approach she learned at the Tuskegee Institute to formal education in private and public schools, and then in informal education as the first African-American female employee of the “Negro” division of the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service—that is, the first black home demonstration agent in the state. Mary Lee McCrary’s birth year and early life remain a mystery. During the late nineteenth century,  as African Americans faced increased assaults to their civil liberties, many turned to capitalism, another American ideal, as visible evidence of citizenship. McCrary apparently embraced this approach. She learned the self-help philosophy from one of the most celebrated advocates of the approach, Booker T. Washington, …

Red River

The Red River emerges from two forks in the Texas panhandle and flows east approximately 1,290 miles, forming the border between Oklahoma and Texas as well as part of the border between Texas and Arkansas. In southwestern Arkansas near Fulton (Hempstead County), the Red River takes a decidedly southern turn before entering Louisiana, where it flows southeasterly before emptying into the Mississippi River northeast of the town of Simmesport. Although only approximately 180 miles of the Red River touches upon or passes through the state of Arkansas, it has had a major impact upon the people of southwestern Arkansas from prehistoric times to the present day. Important prehistoric Caddo artifacts have been unearthed in the Red River valley, particularly the …

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers

aka: Picoides borealis
With the exception of the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker, red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) are the rarest of Arkansas’s nesting woodpeckers. A century ago, the bird was common in mature, open pine stands. Its natural range included millions of acres of pine habitat throughout the southeast United States. An estimated ninety-nine percent of suitable habitat was lost because of logging, wildfire suppression, conversion to agricultural lands, and urbanization. Best estimates range-wide indicate an original population numbering over four million. By the time the bird was declared endangered, it had declined to an estimated 10,000. The Arkansas population dwindled to under 400 birds. The red-cockaded woodpecker was designated as endangered on October 13, 1970. It received formal legal protection with the passage …

Reed, Pearlie Sylvester

Pearlie Sylvester Reed spent more than a quarter century of his career working in agriculture, serving four major regions of the United States and initiating sweeping progressive and anti-discrimination policies in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012. Pearlie S. Reed was born in Heth (St. Francis County) on June 14, 1948. He was one of eighteen children of Floyd L. Reed and Gennora Reed. Reed attended school in the nearby town of Hughes (St. Francis County) and graduated from the segregated Mildred Jackson High School. As a student at what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Reed began his career in agriculture in 1968 as an intern in …

Rice Industry

Rice, the most popular grain in the world, is Arkansas’s leading agricultural product. Although it was only rarely grown in Arkansas before the twentieth century, rice came to dominate eastern Arkansas farms, beginning in the Grand Prairie but rapidly expanding into the Mississippi Delta and the Arkansas Valley. Domesticated rice (Oryza sativa) is not native to North America. It has been cultivated in central Asia for up to 6,500 years, and its use gradually spread to eastern and western Asia, the Mediterranean basin, and Africa. Roughly 40,000 official varieties of rice are recognized, but they usually are sorted into three categories: short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain. While most rice is consumed as a grain, rice is also an ingredient in many …

Riceland Foods

Riceland Foods, Inc., headquartered in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), is the world’s largest rice miller and rice marketer. It also operates one of the world’s largest rice mills, which is located in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Founded in 1921 as a farmers’ cooperative to market crops, Riceland is one of the top companies in Arkansas. It is the largest supplier of rice for the food industry in the United States, a major rice exporter to foreign countries, one of the nation’s largest grain storage companies, and is also one of the Mid-South’s largest soybean processors. In the late nineteenth century, most of America’s rice was grown in Louisiana. Around 1900, William H. Fuller from Carlisle (Lonoke County) went to Louisiana on a …

Rich Mountain

Rich Mountain, at 2,681 feet above sea level, ranks as Arkansas’s second-highest peak and the highest point in the U.S. Interior Highlands and the Ouachita National Forest. Its long ridge in western Arkansas (Polk County) is occupied by the fifty-four-mile Talimena Scenic Byway, a National Scenic Drive that traverses the entire ridge to extend farther westward into Oklahoma to the Winding Stair Mountains of Le Flore County. In Arkansas, the ridge begins on Arkansas Highway 88 (Skyline Drive) north of Mena (Polk County) and eventually turns into State Highway 1 on the Oklahoma side and begins just north of Talihina near Talimena State Park. At the apex of Rich Mountain is a fifty-eight-foot observation tower constructed in 1952 and used …

River Designations

aka: Wild and Scenic Rivers
aka: Arkansas Natural and Scenic Rivers System
Designation of rivers as a method of protection grew out of the environmental movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In discussions of designation, the terms “river” and “stream” are used interchangeably. At the national level, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 was landmark in recognizing that certain rivers have value and should be preserved in their free-flowing condition. This legislation served as a model for state initiatives. The federal and state models for designation concentrated on activities in the principal channel of the river, such as damming and dredging. At the time, these activities were the biggest threats to rivers. Issues such as gravel mining, minimum stream flow requirements, and property rights activism had not yet …

Rivers

Arkansas has approximately 90,000 miles of rivers and streams. Thirty-three rivers are generally recognized as passing through Arkansas or along one of its borders; more than half of Arkansas’s rivers also enter or run along the borders of other states. While river travel has many hazards—including rapids and hidden snags—until the second half of the nineteenth century, the rivers of Arkansas often provided the best means of transportation for residents and visitors, and many cities and towns were established because of their proximity to rivers. A river is a narrow body of water with land on two sides, generally flowing downhill until it empties into another river or into a lake, sea, or ocean. All rivers are streams, but smaller …

Rust, John Daniel

John Daniel Rust invented the first practical spindle cotton picker in the late 1930s. The Rust cotton picker threatened to wipe out the old plantation system and throw millions of people out of work, creating a social revolution. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin had created the Cotton South, but the Rust picker threatened to destroy it. In 1949, Rust moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where the Ben Pearson Company produced cotton pickers using the Rust patents. John D. Rust was born on September 6, 1892, near Necessity, Texas, to Benjamin Daniel Rust, a farmer and schoolteacher, and Susan Minerva Burnett, a homemaker. As a youngster, Rust did farm work and displayed an aptitude for mechanical tinkering. His parents died when …