Entry Category: Land and Resources - Starting with S

Saline River

The Saline River is known throughout the South for its scenic beauty and its unique characteristic of being a mountain stream at its origin in the Ouachita Mountains and a Delta-type bayou near its mouth at Felsenthal (Union County), where the stream converges with the Ouachita River. It is the last free-flowing river in the Ouachita basin. The river derived its name from a salty marsh located near its mouth, called by the French the “Marias Saline,” though some historians claim that a salt works started near Benton (Saline County) as early as 1827 gave the river its name. At one time, these salt works supplied the bulk of salt used in the territory as well as surrounding states. Although …

Saltpeter Mining

Potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, is a naturally occurring mineral that is vital to the production of gunpowder. Found in limestone caves in the Arkansas Ozarks, it became one of the state’s most important chemical industries during the Civil War due to the Confederacy’s demand for arms. Although this resource was a definite advantage for the Confederacy, problems with labor, security, and transportation made Arkansas’s saltpeter mines an ultimate failure. Saltpeter deposits were known by early Arkansas settlers long before the Civil War in Madison, Searcy, Independence, Marion, and Newton counties. A geographical survey was conducted by Dale David Owens from 1857 to 1860. His findings were published in 1860, and, by 1862, the Confederacy, looking to arm itself for the …

Samuels, Stephen L.

Stephen L. Samuels, a Paragould (Greene County) native, was a lawyer at the United States Department of Justice for thirty-one years, developing a national reputation for expertise in environmental law, particularly the Clean Water Act of 1972. He served as the assistant chief of the Environmental Defense Section and oversaw some of the department’s most complex and contentious cases. In the wake of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that resulted in widespread confusion, he helped develop the Justice Department’s legal strategy for defending the Clean Water Act in nearly eighty lawsuits nationwide in state and federal courts. His work earned him the nickname “Mr. Clean Water Act.” Steven Lee Samuels was born in Paragould on February 2, 1952. He was the …

Sand and Gravel Mining

aka: Gravel and Sand Mining
Sand is usually defined as an accumulation of mineral grains in sizes ranging from one-sixteenth to two millimeters. Sand normally consists predominantly of quartz grains of variable degrees of roundness. Other mineral grains within the sand size range are also present and typically consist of feldspar, chert, ilmenite, and other less abundant resistant minerals. Gravel is considered to be an unconsolidated mixture of rock fragments, pebbles, cobbles, and boulders of indefinite size, but always larger than sand-sized materials. Gravel normally consists of a mixture of rock types, depending upon the original source, and may consist of various quartz rock varieties, such as chert, sandstone, novaculite, agate, and milky vein quartz, as well as limestone, dolostone, and other resistant rock types. …

Save the River Parks Campaign

aka: Audubon Society of Central Arkansas v. Dailey
“Save the River Parks” was a slogan adopted by environmental and neighborhood groups in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in a four-year political and legal campaign that ultimately, in 1992, halted construction of a highway along the southern bank of the Arkansas River connecting the city’s downtown district to interstate highways and residential and business districts on the city’s western side. After a citywide vote and losing battles in state and federal courts, the city government, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abandoned the road construction. The subsequent construction of bicycle and pedestrian bridges over the Arkansas River and a tributary, as well as a trail system linking some twenty parks along the river …

Sharecropping and Tenant Farming

Farm tenancy is a form of lease arrangement whereby a tenant rents, for cash or a share of crops, farm property from a landowner. Different variations of tenant arrangements exist, including sharecropping, in which, typically, a landowner provides all of the capital and a tenant all of the labor for a fifty percent share of crops. Tenancies have been used widely throughout Arkansas, but prior to the Civil War, slaves worked most vast agricultural tracts along the Mississippi River planted in cotton. When the South lost the war, bringing slavery to an end, Arkansas landowners and freed slaves then began negotiating new labor relationships to cultivate land up and down the Arkansas Delta. While some planters preferred day labor, using …

Shingu, Nami

Nami Shingu, an American citizen born of Japanese parents, arrived in Arkansas as an internee in a World War II relocation camp and left a decade later after her family’s successful farming endeavors allowed them to return to California. Nami Yoshida was born in San Francisco, California, on January 31, 1918. There is little record of her parents, Japanese natives who had come to the United States seeking new opportunities. The family returned to Japan when Nami was ten years old, but as she grew up, she came to recognize the oppressive nature of the militaristic Japanese government, seeing friends who expressed opposition to its policies suddenly disappear. In the mid-1930s, she met a man living in her village named …

Silver Mining

The silver in Arkansas is mixed sulfide ores of lead, zinc, copper, and antimony in small, scattered deposits in parts of the southern and eastern Ouachita Mountains. Most of the known mining activity involving silver took place between 1840 and 1927 and rarely resulted in profit to owners and operators. Sale of claims or mines to unsuspecting investors was usually the only route to profit. The mines opened in the 1800s were shallow, reaching maximum depths of less than 200 feet. Most of the deposits where mining was undertaken are clustered in three groups. One is along Kellogg Creek in Pulaski County, north of the Arkansas River. Deposits in another group were clustered along tributaries near the confluence of the north …

Snag Boats

As American settlers pushed westward following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, their goals of settlement, civilization, and trade were hindered by the hazardous nature of the western rivers. The pioneers found the Mississippi River and its tributaries, such as the Arkansas and Red rivers, filled with obstacles and debris. Snag boats, tasked with the removal of sunken trees and the clearing of the rivers, were one of the first answers to the growing loss of life and property. The navigability of the rivers became a priority to settlers, who believed the future prosperity of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the western frontier, including Arkansas, was acutely tied to the safety of river trade. As western river trade became more important …

Snyder, Harold

aka: Ralph Harold Snyder
Ralph Harold Snyder is the man most often credited with bringing the poultry industry to the Arkansas River Valley. In 1960, the company he founded, Arkansas Valley Industries, Inc. (AVI), became the first wholly integrated poultry business to make its stock available to the public. Harold Snyder was born on April 3, 1915, in Winfield, Kansas, to Roy C. Snyder and Mildred Poland Snyder. As a young boy, he moved with his parents and five siblings to Green Forest (Carroll County), where he was raised on a small hill farm. Snyder was valedictorian of his high school class, and he was elected state president of the Arkansas Future Farmers of America. Based on this record, he received a scholarship to …

Soil and Water Conservation Districts

The most destructive period to the soil and water resources of Arkansas was during the years 1900 to 1930. During this time, farmers generally received money only from the sale of timber and cotton. Sheet erosion insidiously removed the fertile, more absorbent upper layers of topsoil. This increased the rate of runoff from the fields, and gullies soon appeared. Reduced fertility led to crop failures, and repeated failures led to abandonment of farms in many instances. The appearance of the countryside rapidly deteriorated in the absence of an organized program of soil conservation. Agricultural colleges of the day were teaching terracing and crop rotation, but typical forty- to eighty-acre subsistence farmers viewed these practices as being too sophisticated for their …

Soil Conservation

Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, the first human inhabitants of what was to become the state of Arkansas could be characterized as scattered, small bands of hunter/gatherers who had little impact on the soil and water resources. Soil erosion that occurred was primarily due to natural events associated with dramatic post-glacial weather patterns. Human cultivation of Arkansas soils began around 3,000 years ago during the late Archaic Period when small patches of mostly squash, gourds, sunflowers, beans, and, later, corn were cultivated. Early crop cultivation did not appear to harm the soil and water resources due to the small size of the gardens and the relatively low density of human inhabitants in the region. As human population increased, so …

Soils

Arkansas has a diversity of rich soils that developed in a favorable environment for growing plants. The soils of Arkansas are the foundation of the number-one industry in the state—agriculture. Arkansas soils are natural, dynamic bodies of broken-down and weathered mineral and organic matter, in some places altered by human activity, capable of growing plants. Soils are unique and exist as a creation of five soil-forming factors: parent material, climate, topography, organisms, and time. Soil parent material is the geological source of the mineral component, defined as particles less than two millimeters in diameter. Arkansas soils developed from residium, loess, alluvium, and old marine sediment parent materials. Residium is weathered rock, and Arkansas’s residium is mostly soil derived from sandstone, …