Online Encyclopedia

ARKANSAS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 556 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARKANSAS, one of the South Central states of the United States of America, situated between 89° 40' N. and 94° 42' W., bounded N. by Missouri, E. by the Mississippi river, separating it from Tennessee and Mississippi, and W. by Texas and Oklahoma. Its area is 53,335 sq. m., of which 810 are water surface. Arkansas lies in the drainage basin of the lower Mississippi, and has a remarkable river system. The Arkansas bisects the state from W. to E.; along its valley lie the oldest and largest settlements of the state. Nine other considerable streams drain the state; of these, the Red, the Ouachita, the White and the St Francis are the most important. There are a number of swamps and bayous in the eastern part. Physical Features.—The surface of Arkansas is the most diversified of that of any state in the central Mississippi valley. It rises, sloping upward toward the N.W., from an average elevation of less than 300 ft. in the south-east to heights of 2000 ft. and more in the north-western quarter. There are four physiographic regions: two of highlands; one of river valley plain separating the two highland areas; while the fourth is a region of hills, lowlands and scanty prairie. The last covers the E. half of the state, and is part of the Gulf or coastal plain province of the United States. If a line be drawn from the point where the Red river cuts the western boundary to where the Black cuts the northern, E: of it is the Gulf plain and W. of it are the highlands (over 500 ft.) and the mineral regions of the state. They are divided by the valley of the Arkansas river into two regions, which are also structurally different. South of the river are the Ouachita Mountains, and north of it are the Boston Mountains. The Ouachita Mountains are characterized by close folding and faulting. Their southern edge is covered with cretaceous deposits, and their eastern edge is covered as well with the tertiary deposits of the Gulf plains. The Arkansas valley is marked by wide and open folding. The Boston Mountains are substantially a continuation of the Ozark dome of Missouri. Their northern border is marked by an escarpment of 500 to 700 ft. in height. The trend is from E. to W. between551 Batesville and Wagoner, Oklahoma. In structure they are monoclinical, their rocks—sandstones and shales—being laid southward and blending on that side with the Arkansas valley region. The entire region is very much dissected by streams, and the topography is characteristically of a terrace and escarpment type. In the highlands N. of the Arkansas the country is very irregularly broken ; S. of the river the hills lie less capriciously in short, high ranges, with low, fertile valleys between them. The Ouachitas extend 200 in., from within Oklahoma (near Atoka) to central Arkansas, near Little' kock. They are characterized by long, low ridges bearing generally W.-E., with wide, flat valleys. Near the western boundary of the state they attain a maximum altitude of 2900 ft. above the sea, and 2000 ft. above the valleys of the Arkansas and Red river; falling in elevation eastward (as westward) to 500-700 ft. at their eastern end: Five peaks rise above 2000 ft. Magazine Mountain, 2833 ft. above the sea-level and 2350 ft. above the surrounding country, is the highest point between the Alleghanies and the Rockies. Altitudes of 2250 ft. are attained in the Boston Mountains, which are the highest portion of the Ozark uplift, and the most picturesque. The streams are vigorous, and in their lower courses flow in deep-cut gorges, 500 to loon ft. deep, almost deserving the name of canyons. The main streams are tortuous, and their dendritic tributaries have cut the region into ridges. The mountains do not fill the N.W. quarter of the state, and are separated from a lower, greatly eroded highland region on their N. by a bold escarpment 500 to 1000 ft. in height. Along the upper course of the White river in the Bostons and in the country about Hot Springs in the Ouachitas is found the most beautiful scenery of the highlands; few regions are more beautiful. The valley region embraces the bottom-Iands along the Mississippi, and up the Arkansas as far as Pine Bluff, and the cypress swamp country of the St Francis. Climate.—The climate of the state is " southern," owing to the influence of the Gulf of Mexico. The mean temperatures for the different seasons are normally about 41.6°, 61.1°, 78.8° and 61.9° F. for winter, spring, summer and autumn respectively. The normal mean precipitations are about 11.7, 14.5, 10.5 and 10.2 in. for the same seasons. The extreme range of the monthly isotherms crossing the state is from about 350 in winter to 81° F. in summer, and the range of annual isotherms from about 540 to 6o° F. That is, the variation of mean annual temperatures for different parts of the state is only 6° F. The variation of the mean annual temperature for the entire state is only 4° (from 59 to 63° F.). The variation of precipitation is as great as 30 in. (from 34 to 64 in.) according to locality. There is little snow, no severe winter cold, and no summer drought. Sheltered valleys in the interior produce spring crops three or four weeks earlier than is usual in Kansas. The climate is generally healthy. Flora.—Arkansas lies in the humid, or Austroriparian, area of the Lower Austral life-zone, except the highlands of theMzark uplift and Ouachita Mountains, which belong to the humid, or Carolinian, area of the Upper Austral. The state possesses a rich fauna and flora. From an economic standpoint its forests deserve special mention. The forest lands of the state include four-fifths of its area, and three-fourths are actually covered by standing timber. Valuable trees are of great variety: cotton-wood, poplar, catalpa, red cedar, sweet-gum, birch-eye, sassafras, persimmon; ash, elm, sycamore, maple, a variety of pines, pecan, locust, dogwood, hickory, various oaks, beech, walnut and cypress are all abundant. There are one hundred and twenty-nine native species of trees. The yellow pine, the white oak and the cypress are the most valuable growths. The northern woods are mainly hard; the yellow pine is most characteristic of the heavy woods of the south central counties; and magnificent cypress abounds in the north-east. Hard woods grow even on the alluvial lands. " The hard-wood forests of the state are hardly surpassed in variety and richness, and contain inestimable bodies of the finest oak, walnut, hickory and ash timber " (U.S. Census, 1870 and 1900). The growth on the alluvial bottoms and the lower uplands in the E. is extraordinarily vigorous. The leading species of the Appalachian woodland maintain their full vigour of growth nearer to the margin of forest growth in this part of the Mississippi valley than in any other part of the United States; and some species, such as the holly, the osage orange and the pecan, attain their fullest growth in Arkansas End of Article: ARKANSAS
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