Entries - 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 …

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. 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 the …

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, …

South Fork Nature Center

South Fork Nature Center (SFNC), which opened in 2010, is the Gates Rogers Foundation’s premier conservancy project. Located in central Arkansas just east of Clinton (Van Buren County), it lies in the Boston Mountains range of the Ozark Mountains on the banks of the South Fork of the Little Red River section of Greers Ferry Lake. Featuring two miles of interpretive nature trails on the peninsula and a spectacular view of the lake, the center serves as a model to educate and inspire the public to be aware of the environment, to protect vulnerable plant and animal species, and to adopt practices that are ecologically sound. It seeks to preserve Arkansas’s native flora and fauna in a manner that ensures …

Spanish Land Grants

Arkansas inherited a complex legacy of land grants from its time as part of Spanish Louisiana. Beginning in 1769, royal governor Alejandro O’Reilly established regulations concerning the size of permissible concessions and the conditions by which applicants could perfect titles to their land. Subsequent governors upheld and expanded similar regulations, but in practice, most grants made during Spanish rule were approved upon request only by the commandant of the nearest settlement. Formal surveys of the grants were rarely made, which further frustrated attempts to determine rightful ownership of granted land once Spanish Louisiana became part of the United States. O’Reilly’s regulations prescribed a three-year probationary period during which claimants were expected to clear the frontage of their land, build ditches …

Spring River

Flowing through northeastern Arkansas for approximately seventy-five miles in a southeastern direction, the Spring River empties into the Black River near Black Rock (Lawrence County). Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), adjacent to the Arkansas-Missouri state line, serves as the headwater for the Spring River. It expels more than nine million gallons of water each hour through a vent located eighty feet below the surface of Spring Lake, a low-turbidity body of water created by a dam downstream from the spring in what is now Mammoth Spring State Park. Although the water from the spring flows into the lake with great force, the vent’s depth prevents viewers on the surface from seeing the characteristic bubbling that springs typically produce. The consistent discharge …

Springs

Springs are naturally occurring geologic features that transport emerging groundwater to the land surface. They also represent a transition from groundwater to surface water. This water can be released through one opening, multiple openings, or numerous seeps in the rock strata or soil. Springs have unique properties such as discrete habitats with relatively constant conditions like temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, and flow. The underground reservoirs from which springs arise may be cavernicolous limestone, gravel, sand, sediment, soil, or other permeable formations. A spring’s presence depends on the nature and relationship of permeable and impermeable units, the position of the water table, and the land topography. Faults often play an important role in the location of springs by damming up an …

St. Francis River

The St. Francis River originates in the northeast corner of Iron County, Missouri, and flows for twenty-five miles through the St. Francois Mountains, where it is a clear, fast-flowing whitewater stream until it reaches the Mississippi Alluvial Plain north of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, at which point the river becomes a sluggish, silt-laden stream. The river there turns south and travels 207 miles, forming the boundary between the Missouri bootheel and northeast Arkansas and then coursing between Crowley’s Ridge and the Mississippi River. The mouth of the St. Francis where it flows into the Mississippi is in the St. Francis National Forest just north of Helena-West Helena (Phillips County). The St. Francis River valley has been the site of human habitation …

Stern, Jane Rita Ellenbogen

Jane Rita Ellenbogen Stern was a well-known conservationist and environmentalist from Arkansas. She dedicated herself to the preservation of the natural waterways and migratory bird habitats of the state, especially in eastern Arkansas. Jane Ellenbogen was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 2, 1918, to Leonard E. Ellenbogen—owner of a real-estate firm, a clothing store, and a laundry—and Birdie Berger Ellenbogen. She grew up in Little Rock and attended Little Rock public schools. Thereafter, she attended Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock). In 1940, Ellenbogen married Dr. Howard S. Stern; they had two children. In 1948, the Stern family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), an area where much of Stern’s conservationist …

Strawberry Industry

The strawberry industry arose in Arkansas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the advent of railroads made possible the profitable shipping of the fruit. For farmers, especially those who sell their crops locally, strawberries “kick off” the growing season because of their early ripening. By the time strawberry plants have stopped producing, other fruits and vegetables are ready to be brought to market, thus allowing a savvy grower to stagger crops throughout the summer and into fall. According to rough estimates, there are about 200 acres of strawberries in Arkansas. The short-lived peak market time of the strawberry originally prevented the fruit from getting a foothold in early Arkansas. Limited transportation meant poor-quality fruit at the stores …

Strawberry River

The Strawberry River rises southwest of Salem (Fulton County) and flows southeast from there for approximately ninety miles before emptying into the Black River in northeastern Independence County. The town of Strawberry (Lawrence County) takes its name from the river. Forty-three miles of the river have been have been designated part of the Arkansas Natural and Scenic Rivers System. The Strawberry River is a popular stream for canoeists and fishers. In addition to the smallmouth bass, the river is home to thirty-nine species of freshwater mussel, many of them rare, as well as the Strawberry River orangethroat darter (Etheostoma fragi), which lives only in this river system. The area around the Strawberry River has been the site of human habitation …

Stump Saw

Consisting of vernacular technology that combined a horizontally positioned circular saw blade with an automobile engine, the stump saw was used to clear rice fields of virgin timber during the early twentieth century. In northeast Arkansas perhaps as early as 1909, the stump saw became essential to rice cultivation after farmers had planted all the region’s treeless prairie and had turned to post oak flats and sloughs for potential rice acreage. In order to cut off trees at or below ground level, farmers developed a device consisting of a circular saw blade, probably a cast-off from a sawmill, fixed horizontally on a sled and driven by a gasoline engine. The rear axle and differential of a Model A Ford (or …

Sunken Lands

The term “sunken lands” (also called “sunk lands” or “sunk country”) refers to parts of Craighead, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties that shifted and sank during the New Madrid earthquakes which took place between 1811 and 1812. Because the land was submerged under water, claims to property based on riparian rights by large landowners generated controversy which lasted decades and ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. When the New Madrid earthquakes began in December 1811, the territory which is today northeastern Arkansas was sparsely populated. An early chronicler described the earthquakes’ effect as the ground moving like waves on the land, when suddenly the earth would burst, sending up huge volumes of water and sand, leaving chasms where the earth had …

Sunnyside Plantation

Sunnyside Plantation of Chicot County is synonymous with the immigration of Italian Catholics into the cotton fields of the Arkansas Delta. During the 1890s, Sunnyside Plantation was the largest Catholic colony of new immigrants in the state and the primary factor in attracting Italians to Arkansas. In the later half of the nineteenth century, Austin Corbin of New York bought more than 10,000 acres of Chicot County land on the Mississippi River and established his Sunnyside Plantation. Under the auspices of the Sunnyside Company, Corbin consolidated several plantations and named the property after an area plantation that dated back to the 1830s. When difficulties arose in finding laborers to work these cotton fields, including a stint with convict labor, Corbin …

Superfund Sites

In 1980, Congress passed, and President Jimmy Carter signed, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund law. CERCLA was created to deal with abandoned sites of industrial pollution. The act imposed taxes and fines upon companies to recover clean-up costs, and also established containment procedures for the pollution at such sites. This followed several years of highly publicized incidents related to industrial pollution, such as the 1974 contamination of Times Beach, Missouri—which was later evacuated due to high levels of dioxin in the city’s soil and water—as well as the eventual relocation of residents from the notorious Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, which was the site of a chemical dump …

Swamp Land Act of 1850

The Swamp Land Act of 1850 gave Arkansas the right to identify and sell millions of acres of overflowed and swamp lands in the public domain and to use the proceeds to finance internal improvements, principally levees and drainage ditches. Arkansas eventually acquired more than 8,600,000 acres of land through the Swamp Land Act. This grant of land was of enormous importance to the state at the time, but it had little permanent impact on the economic development of the state. In the 1830s, planters and land developers began to move into Arkansas, attracted by the rich Mississippi Alluvial Plain bottomlands. The alluvial lands, however, were subject to seasonal overflows. In addition, much of the bottomland was swampland, described by …

Swine Industry

aka: Pig Industry
aka: Pork Industry
Swine (a.k.a. pigs, Sus scrofa) were first introduced into what is now Arkansas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. Since pork can be salted and smoked for preservation, many early settlers used pigs to supply their needs for meat and cooking fat (lard). The widespread production of pigs persisted until commercial refrigeration was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, pork became available from more remote sources, and production was more specialized and concentrated on fewer farms. In the mid-1970s, integration of pig production began to occur, with four corporations controlling most of the $84,148,000 of pig sales in 2007. The de Soto expedition had more than 700 pigs when the group was disbanded in …