Entries - Entry Type: Thing - Starting with B

Black River Bridge (Historic)

The Black River Bridge is the name given to a historic bridge spanning the Black River in Randolph County. Built as part of U.S. Highway 67, the Black River Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 9, 1990, and maintained by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The Pocahontas (Randolph County) section of Highway 67 opened in February 1931. The confluence of Highways 90 and 115 with U.S. Highway 67 in Pocahontas required a bridge to provide for safe travel across the Black River. To begin the construction of a bridge, the State Highway Commission needed federal approval through the U.S. Congress and through the War Department. This approval was set in place to ensure that …

Black River Technical College

Black River Technical College (BRTC) is a comprehensive, two-year accredited institution of higher learning serving college transfer and career and technical education (CTE) students in northeast Arkansas, southeast Missouri, and beyond. It offers both traditional and distance education options. The main campus is in Pocahontas (Randolph County), with a second campus in Paragould (Greene County). Lawrence and Clay counties are also in BRTC’s service area. Enrollment in credit classes as of the fall of 2014 was 1,962, with some students enrolling in college basics and others enrolling in one of the college’s seventeen different associate’s degree programs and twenty-nine certificate programs. Both campuses also serve a significant number through continuing education and business outreach, as well as GED/adult education programs. …

Blakely House

The Blakely House was constructed as a dogtrot-style house in 1874 by the son of one of the early settlers in the Social Hill (Hot Spring County) area. Located on Arkansas Highway 84, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1976. Adam Blakely arrived in the area in the 1820s and, by 1837, owned almost 200 acres of land in the area. Over the next several decades, Blakely built a successful plantation near the Ouachita River and the waterway named for him, Blakely Creek. The house was constructed by Adam Blakely’s youngest son, Greenberry (or Green Berry) Blakely. Born on December 25, 1855, he married Martha Ingersoll (sometimes spelled Englesaw) on December 12, 1875. …

Blakely Mountain Dam

aka: Blakely Dam
aka: Lake Ouachita
Blakely Mountain Dam, located approximately ten miles northwest of Hot Springs (Garland County), was created to provide hydroelectric power and to control flooding along the Ouachita River. It impounds Lake Ouachita, the largest lake completely within the state of Arkansas at over 40,000 acres. In 1870, the U.S. Congress authorized a survey of the Ouachita River to investigate improving its navigability and preventing floods along its course. However, nothing was done until the 1920s, when Harvey Couch and his company, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), began searching for sites for hydroelectric dams along the Ouachita River. AP&L built Remmel Dam and Carpenter Dam, which were in place by the early 1930s. Plans for a third, larger dam were announced in …

Blockbusting

Blockbusting, or “panic peddling,” was a process whereby real estate agents urged white property owners to sell their property at low prices (often below market value) in response to their fear that black families would move into their neighborhood. Emerging primarily out of the Great Migration, or the resettlement of African Americans from the rural South seeking employment in the industrialized North between approximately 1915 and 1970, blockbusting matured as a real estate tactic amid population growth in urban areas of major cities all over the country and the racial tension accompanying it. Other processes in the housing market aided real estate agents who operated as blockbusters. With mortgage lenders denying loans to residents of certain areas who were deemed …

Bloody Mama

In 1969, Roger Corman, who had found success directing and producing low-budget exploitation films for American International Pictures, chose as his next project a fictionalized account of the exploits of the infamous Ma Barker and her gang. After a scouting trip to Arkansas, Corman decided to shoot the film in the Ozark Mountains and around the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. Corman described the experience as one of the “smoothest and most successful” shoots of his career. For the part of the notorious Ma Barker, Corman had only one actress in mind—Oscar-winner Shelley Winters. After agreeing to the role, Winters helped Corman cast the film. She showed him a video of Robert De Niro performing in a low-budget Brian De Palma film, …

Blue Laws

Arkansas’s first blue laws, also called Sunday-closing laws, were enacted in 1837, only a year after Arkansas’s statehood. Though no blue laws have been in effect since 1982, they influenced the state’s culture and commerce for nearly a century and a half. Blue laws have been part of American history since people began emigrating from Europe, where the laws were common. Virginia established the first blue law in the American colonies in 1610. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbidding the establishment of religion may have called into question the legality of Sunday-closing laws, but it did not stop nearly all states from adopting them. Historically, courts have ruled that state legislatures could proclaim a weekly day of rest …

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 …

Blue Wing No. 2

Originally a commercial vessel, the Blue Wing No. 2—a sidewheel paddleboat—was first used by the Confederates, then seized and put into Union service, and then captured by Confederates with a load of mail and supplies in December 1862. This capture provided the incentive for Union forces to attack Fort Hindman and Arkansas Post in January 1863. The last report on the boat, still in Confederate hands, was in April 1863, and it was likely sunk or scuttled in the summer of 1863. The Blue Wing No. 2 was a 170-ton steamboat built by the Howard company at Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1850. The vessel measured 150 feet long by thirty feet wide and was powered by three forty-two-inch-by-twenty-two-foot boilers. Commanded by …

Blues Music

The origins of the blues are murky, but the state of Arkansas seems to have hosted the music and its creators since its beginnings in North America and helped spread it worldwide. Blues is acknowledged as the root from which sprang jazz, rhythm and blues (R&B), rock and roll, and hip-hop; in addition, it has informed the genres of country and western, gospel, and bluegrass. Blues and its offspring have long since crossed the globe, but its standard-bearers are largely confined to the Mississippi River Delta, especially eastern Arkansas and western Mississippi. Emerging in part from call-and-response “field hollers” dating from the slavery era, blues had practitioners originally belonging to many different groups with their own musical styles. Most scholars believe …

Bobby Hopper Tunnel

Arkansas has seven railroad tunnels but only one highway tunnel. Named for the Arkansas Highway Commission director at the time of the tunnel’s construction, Bobby Hopper, the northwest Arkansas commission representative from Springdale (Washington County), the Bobby Hopper Tunnel is located on Interstate 49 in Washington County just north of the Crawford County line with its closest exit at Winslow (Washington County). U.S. Highway 71, once classified by Reader’s Digest as “one of the most dangerous highways in America,” includes a perilous stretch between Alma (Crawford County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) through the Ozark Plateau. Thus, construction of an alternate route was designed to make the trip safer, as well as reduce travel time. Approved in 1987 and completed in …

Bodark

aka: Osage Orange
aka: Maclura pomifera
aka: Bois d'Arc
aka: Horse Apple
aka: Hedge Apple
The bodark tree (Maclura pomifera) is a common tree in Arkansas, known to live in at least forty-seven of the state’s seventy-five counties. The name “bodark” is a slurring of the French “bois d’arc,” meaning “wood of the bow”—a reference to the Osage Indians’ practice of making bows from the tree. The Osage connection survives in another common appellation, Osage orange, which refers to the unique fruit of the tree, as do other names, such as horse apple and hedge apple. Native to the area encompassing Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, the bodark tree was among those described by William Dunbar of the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition while proceeding to the Ouachita River. French explorers had already encountered the Osage using …

Booker T. Washington High School (Jonesboro)

Booker T. Washington High School (BTW) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), also known as Jonesboro Industrial High School (IHS), was the first high school for African Americans in northeastern Arkansas. After some setbacks, BTW ultimately became a source of pride in the black community, with students coming from across the region to attend the school. BTW closed in 1966 when Jonesboro’s public schools were completely desegregated. In the twenty-first century, the E. Boone Watson Community Center and African American Cultural Center stands on the former BTW site. After a severe snowstorm in December 1917 destroyed the city auditorium in Jonesboro, the Colored School Improvement Association (CSIA) of Jonesboro lobbied the Jonesboro School Board for the bricks from the dilapidated building to …

Booker Worthen Literary Prize

aka: Worthen Prize
The Booker Worthen Literary Prize is awarded each year to the best work, fiction or non-fiction, by an author living in central Arkansas. With a stipend of $2,000, it is one of the state’s most lucrative and prestigious literary prizes. The Booker Worthen Literary Prize was established in 1999 in the memory of William Booker Worthen, who was a member of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Board of Trustees for twenty-two years, as well as part of the Worthen Bank empire. The award is funded in part by interest from an endowment for the award donated by the Worthen family. The Worthen Prize is awarded in a joint program with the Porter Fund Literary Prize. This generally occurred in …

Boone County Courthouse

The Boone County Courthouse in Harrison is a 1909 Georgian Revival–styled red brick building designed by architect Charles L. Thompson of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and built by A. M. Byrnes and C. H. McCauley. The two-story structure is one of the most architecturally significant courthouses in Arkansas. A basic frame structure was used as the courthouse from 1873 until 1909, when the Boone County government hired Thompson to design a new courthouse for the community. Thompson was very well known throughout Arkansas as one of the most prominent and inventive architects in the region. The building itself is a two-story structure built of red brick with red tiling on the roof. Two chimneys rise from the gabled roof, which is …

Boone County Regional Airport

The Boone County Regional Airport is located three miles outside of Harrison (Boone County). The airport is a mixed-use airport, with the majority of usage coming from general aviation. It is estimated that, in 2015, the airport provided 120 jobs and had an economic impact of over $12 million to the local economy. The first flight to what is now the Boone County Regional Airport was in 1921. It was flown by Earl Rowland, a local flying legend. He was a World War I pilot, a test pilot for Cessna Aircraft, a member of the World War II Air Transport Command, and winner of five national air races. Although his landing in Harrison in 1921 inaugurated aviation to the area, …

Bootleggers

aka: Deadeye Dewey and the Arkansas Kid
The 1974 movie billed on its original posters as Charles B. Pierce’s BOOTLEGGERS was later re-released as Deadeye Dewey and the Arkansas Kid, and yet again as Charles B. Pierce’s THE BOOTLEGGER’S ANGEL. The 115-minute film was shot on location in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas near Calico Rock (Izard County). It chronicles two feuding families of bootleggers, the Pruitts and the Woodalls, in rural Arkansas during the 1930s. Its original poster contained the tagline “Revenge, Love and Liquid Dynamite!” Significant is the billing of two of its minor cast members: “Introducing Jaclyn Smith” followed by “AND Slim Pickens.” Variously categorized as an action/adventure, a revenge drama, and a period comedy, the low-budget movie earned more than $4 million …

Boswell School

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of the many government programs designed to help combat the economic hard times of the Depression, constructed a new school building in Boswell (Izard County) in the mid-1930s. The original school had been established not long after the founding of the community in the early 1800s. The structure built by the WPA is a rectangular, single-story, fieldstone masonry classroom building with a central porch on the western end with a large projecting gable roof. Entrance is made through double-hung doors on the west side with two nine-over-nine pane windows and two stationary six-pane windows on each side. Two large bay windows cover much of the eastern side. The southern side has two large windows …

Bowfin

aka: Grinnell
Bowfin (Amia calva) belong to the primitive North American fish family Amiidae and Order Amiiformes. The family is monotypic and contains a single genus and species (A. calva). Bowfin are basal bony fishes related to gars in the infraclass Holostei. They are native to North America and are commonly found throughout much of the eastern United States, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain drainages of southern Ontario, and Quebec, Canada. Their range extends farther westward around the Great Lakes into Minnesota and south to the Colorado River in Texas. In Arkansas, A. calva is found in all major river drainages of the Gulf Coastal Plain lowlands and westward through the Arkansas River Valley; they are rarely found in the …

Bowie Knife

The bowie knife, made popular in the 1830s, has evolved into a specific form in current use. The bowie knife was worn for defensive purposes; its primary function was for personal combat. It was designed to be part of a gentleman’s attire, and the key difference between the bowie knife and a hunting knife, a dagger, or a dirk was, initially, the quality of finish of the bowie. Bowie knives came in a variety of forms—with or without guards, with differently shaped blades—and often were adorned with silver and other decoration, sometimes including etching and/or engraving on their metal surfaces. The knife got its name from a pioneer family who settled in early Arkansas and Louisiana. Jim Bowie, the best …

Boxcar Bertha

Boxcar Bertha (1972) was the second exploitation film shot in Arkansas by B-movie director Roger Corman. The first was Bloody Mama (1970), and both were set in the 1930s. Corman chose Arkansas because many rural areas in the state could still pass for the Depression-era South. Interiors and street scenes for Bertha were shot around Camden (Ouachita County). Train sequences and other exteriors were shot on the Possum Trot Line of the Reader Railroad in Nevada and Ouachita counties. Rather than direct the film himself, Corman served as producer and hired a relatively unknown young director, Martin Scorsese, who had impressed Corman with his first feature film, Who’s That Knocking on My Door (1967), also titled I Call First. Corman gave Scorsese …

Boy Erased

Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir Boy Erased recounts his experiences at the Memphis, Tennessee, “ex-gay” therapy program Love in Action, to which his parents sent him in 2004 upon learning that he was gay. A movie adaptation of the book was released in November 2018. Conley, who was born in Memphis and grew up in northern Arkansas—first in Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties), then in Mountain Home (Baxter County)—is the son of Hershel Conley and Martha Caudill Conley. His father served as a Missionary Baptist pastor in Mountain Home. Conley was a Lyon College freshman when another student outed him as gay. In response, his parents sent him to Love in Action. His memoir is a painful reflection on his …

Boys on the Tracks, The

Mara Leveritt’s 1999 book Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother’s Crusade to Bring Her Son’s Killers to Justice is one of the most important examples of investigative journalism in modern Arkansas history. The book’s subject is one of the state’s most famous unsolved cases. At the heart of the case are events surrounding the deaths of two young men—best friends Larry Kevin Ives and Donald George (Don) Henry, both of Bryant (Saline County)—and the resistance encountered by their grieving parents as they searched for the truth. The book won the prestigious Booker Worthen Literary Prize in 2000. On August 23, 1987, at around 4:00 a.m., the bodies of two young men were spotted by the crew of …

Bozeman House

The Bozeman House is a wood-frame Greek Revival house in Clark County constructed around 1847. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The original owner of the house, Michael Bozeman, was a native of Georgia. Born in 1808, he moved to the new state of Alabama in 1819. He married Lucy Ann Browning in 1827, and the couple moved to the Arkansas Territory in 1835. The couple eventually had nine children. The family lived on a tract of land about six miles west of Arkadelphia (Clark County). Bozeman farmed a number of crops but focused on cotton. The family lived in a log cabin when they first arrived in Arkansas. Construction on a new …

Bradley County Courthouse and County Clerk’s Office

The Bradley County Courthouse was designed by architect Frank W. Gibb and contracted by E. L. Koonce. Constructed in 1903, the two-story brick courthouse has an “unusual combination of classical characteristics,” according to the National Register nomination form. The Bradley County Courthouse is located at 101 East Cedar in Warren (Bradley County). It is the third courthouse to occupy this location. The first courthouse was a temporary one built on the site in 1843, approximately two years after the creation of the county, and continued in use until 1862, when a brick courthouse, begun in 1858, replaced it. The second courthouse remained for forty-one years, when it was replaced in 1903 by the current Bradley County Courthouse. The courthouse was …

Branchiobdellidans

aka: Crayfish Worms
Branchiobdellidans, or crayfish worms, are leech-like, clitellate annelids belonging to the Phylum Annelida and Order Brachiobdellida (single family Brachiobdellidae) that form an obligate, ectosymbiotic association primarily with astacoidean crayfishes. They have long been known as “branchiobdellid worms” because they were considered a separate family of the oligochaetes; however, more recent treatment of these worms as a separate taxonomic order technically renders their epithet more correctly as “branchiobdellidan worms” or simply “branchiobdellidans.” Branchiobdellidans are a monophyletic clade of more than 150 ectosymbiont species within twenty-one genera found throughout North and Central America, Europe, and eastern Asia, of which about fifteen genera and 107 species have been reported from North America, including in Arkansas. However, branchiobdellid fauna in Arkansas need further study. …

Brandon Burlsworth Foundation

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation (BBF) is a Christian organization that works to support the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular children with limited opportunities. Most notably, the foundation sponsors a number of scholarships for lower-income students. The foundation takes its name from Brandon Burlsworth, who played football at Harrison High School in Harrison (Boone County). After several offers from Division II schools, he decided to be a walk-on at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He earned a scholarship his first semester at Arkansas and became the first walk-on at UA to be named All Southeastern Conference (1997 and 1998) and All American (1998). He also became the first football player in school history to …

Breweries

Beer brewing in Arkansas dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. Documentation on early beer brewing in Arkansas, however, is sparse. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Little Rock Brewery operated until 1920. The Joseph Knoble Brewery operated in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) from 1848 to 1881. After that, however, breweries did not begin operating in the state again until well after Prohibition ended in 1933. As German immigrants migrated to and settled in Arkansas, especially in the western portion of the state, many found homesteads near Fort Smith, where the state’s best-known historic brewery is located. Built circa 1848, the Joseph Knoble Brewery served locals until 1881. Joseph Knoble, a native of Wittenberg, Germany, constructed this three-story building using typical …

Brick Industry

Brickmaking in Arkansas began in the early nineteenth century as a much localized industry in which a builder in need of bricks would find a deposit of clay, mold bricks by hand, and fire them in a temporary field kiln, using wood or any other combustible for fuel. In the late nineteenth century, producers who operated as businesses began to appear, and, by 1900, several dozen brick companies operated in the state, with production becoming concentrated in towns where large supplies of clay and/or shale are found. In the twentieth century, brick factories were located in Clarksville (Johnson County), El Dorado (Union County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Hope (Hempstead County), Jonesboro (Craighead County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), Malvern (Hot Spring …

Bridges

At the time Arkansas became a territory, most water crossings were fords. When travelers came to a body of water such as a small river or stream, they would look for the shallowest place and cross there. Generally, these fords were adequate for the small number of early travelers in the territory. But as the population of the state slowly grew and a system of military roads was developed, it became necessary to bridge larger bodies of water to make travel faster and easier for the military and the local population. The first attempts at bridge-building in Arkansas were by private individuals. These individuals applied for a franchise to build a toll bridge, which was granted by the territorial legislature. …

Bromine

Bromine (chemical symbol Br) is a highly corrosive, reddish-brown, volatile element found in liquid form. Bromine—along with fluorine, chlorine, and iodine—is part of a family of elements known as the halogens. Arkansas ranks first in the world in the production of bromine, the basis for many widely used chemical compounds. Bromine, along with petroleum and natural gas, is one of the top three minerals produced in Arkansas. The West Gulf Coastal Plain encompasses most of southern Arkansas. During the Paleozoic era (543 to 248 million years ago), this natural division was covered by seawater. Bromine, which occurs naturally in seawater, was extracted from the water by seaweed and plankton. As these organisms decomposed during the Jurassic period (206 to 144 …

Brubaker

Released in 1980, Brubaker is loosely based on the 1969 nonfiction book Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal by Joe Hyams and Thomas O. Murton. Murton was hired as a prison warden in the late 1960s to modernize two prison farms: the Tucker State Prison Farm and the Cummins State Prison Farm. The controversial book and movie brought national attention to issues such as prisoner abuse, inhumane conditions in prisons, and the need for modernization. The movie follows Henry Brubaker, a new warden who has been hired to modernize and reform Wakefield Prison. Brubaker pretends to be a prisoner and mixes with the general population until he discovers widespread corruption and reveals himself in disgust. Though faced with …

Bruno’s Little Italy

Bruno’s Little Italy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of the most well-known restaurants in central Arkansas, serving authentic Neapolitan food since 1949 and introducing hand-tossed pizza to Arkansas. It was founded by Vincent “Jimmy” Bruno and continues in the twenty-first century with his sons and grandson, although it has operated in several locations with brief interruptions over the years. Known for its fine food and also for the many photos of celebrities on the walls, it has been recognized as having the best Italian food in the United States. Giovanni Bruno emigrated from Naples, Italy, in 1903 to join his brother in opening one of New York’s first pizzerias—actually a bakery from which they served pizzas. He was …

Buckner College

Buckner College in Witcherville (Sebastian County), chartered in 1879, began operations in the fall of 1882 as one of Arkansas’s earliest Baptist educational institutions. It was named for Henry Frieland Buckner (1818–1882), Baptist missionary to the Creek Nation, in hopes of attracting students from Indian Territory. The college’s founder, the Reverend Ebenezer L. Compere, was a longtime western Arkansas Baptist minister and missionary who, in 1876, together with a group of Witcherville citizens, began working to establish an educational institution in the area. In 1879, he obtained the reluctant support of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which allowed him to “open a correspondence with such parties as he may think proper with a view of employing a President and Teachers …

Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut

The Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut in Clarksville (Johnson County), a two-story, native-stone structure built on a raised foundation on what was formerly an island in Spadra Creek, is one of the most architecturally interesting legion huts in Arkansas. It displays an unusual castellated design that is best described as Normanesque, perhaps designed to simulate the architecture veterans had seen in Europe during World War I. The Lee Bunch Post 22 was formed in Clarksville in February 1919 when fifteen veterans applied to form a Johnson County post. It was named for Lee Bunch, the first Johnson County soldier to die in World War I. The group initially met in local homes, churches, and clubs, but in February 1932 …

Butchie’s Drive-In

What was originally called Butchie’s Drive-In is a small restaurant located on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Designed in Art Moderne style, the building was constructed in 1952 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Bailey’s Dairy Treat began operations in the building in 1995. An outstanding example of a tourist-focused business that existed in Hot Springs during the mid-twentieth century, it is the only remaining restaurant from the period on Park Avenue. A number of businesses catering to visitors to Hot Springs appeared along Park Avenue in the 1930s. The roadway led travelers from Little Rock (Pulaski County) into the city, and multiple tourist courts, motels, and restaurants were constructed along …

Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company

aka: Overland Mail Company
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Though only running from 1858 through 1861, it was the longest stagecoach line in world history at approximately 2,812 miles and was a major factor in the settlement and development of Arkansas and the American West before the Civil War. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Many sites in Arkansas, such as Butterfield Trails Village in Fayetteville (Washington County), still reflect the era of Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. Before modern technology, the mail was America’s lifeblood. “Post roads” were created in the …

Butterflies and Moths

Arkansas has long been an ideal place to see butterflies and moths, but an increase in public awareness has occurred since the mid-1990s with the publication of scientific papers and checklists, as well as the emergence of special events in state parks. Butterflies and moths are classified in the insect order Lepidoptera, meaning “scale-wing.” Of approximately 350,000 species of butterflies and moths on earth, approximately 15,000 species are butterflies. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by the thousands of microscopic scales that create the color patterns on both sides of the wings. During a typical year, 134 butterfly species may be sighted in Arkansas, including year-round residents, summer residents, and migrants; 94 of these species live on Mount Magazine. An estimated …

Button Blank Industry

America’s mother-of-pearl button industry boomed in the late 1800s due to a seemingly inexhaustible supply of freshwater mussels, the bounty of Mississippi River Valley tributaries. Long made from saltwater marine shells, pearl buttons could now be made from freshwater shells due to new engineering techniques. In addition, the 1890s McKinley tariff on imported goods protected the market for American button makers, allowing mother-of-pearl button manufacturing to explode. Button finishing plants in Iowa and New York were supplied by tons of button blanks that came from small factories lining the northeastern Arkansas rivers, which teemed with the freshwater mollusks that naturally grew mother-of-pearl-lined shells. Supplying the button blank factories with raw material offered farm families extra income because shell harvesting fit …