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First encounter with Europeans in 1541, by Hernando de Soto. Found Indians growing groves of nut and fruit trees and extensive fields of corn. Systems of roads and trails connected the towns and cities to one another. Hunting and Farming by Native Americans.

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Hunting and Farming by Native Americans

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hunting and farming by native americans

First encounter with Europeans in 1541, by Hernando de Soto.

  • Found Indians growing groves of nut and fruit trees and extensive fields of corn.
  • Systems of roads and trails connected the towns and cities to one another.

Hunting and Farming by Native Americans

french trading of furs with native americans at arkansas post

Arkansas Post was the first and most significant European establishment in Arkansas.

  • Henri de Tonti, received land and a trading concession at the juncture of the Arkansas an Mississippi rivers.
  • He established a Arkansas Post near the Quapaw town of Osotouy where French goods were exchanged for beaver furs.
  • Rivers were used for transportation of traded items.

French Trading of Furs with Native Americans at Arkansas Post

cotton plantations

Mostly along the Mississippi in Arkansas because the plant needs hot days and warm nights.

  • These areas also had easy access to river transport.
  • Amounts of cotton production and other farming along the Arkansas?
  • In 1960 cotton generated about 33% of Arkansas’ agricultural income. By the 80’s this decreased to 20%.
  • Cotton remains a strong cash crop for Arkansas, with 2.1 million bales, 10% of national production, harvested in 2004.

Cotton Plantations

sharecropping and tenant farming

Tenant Farming became the most common means of esp. cotton production after the Civil War.

  • A typical Arkansas tenant, black or white, rented forty acres from a landowner and farmed with his own mules, planter and family for labor. Landowners typically got a fourth of the crop, with the remainder going to the tenant.
  • A sharecropper lacked equipment an capital, and his family typically received only fifty percent of the crop.

Sharecropping and Tenant Farming

the timber industry

The abundant forests of Arkansas enable the production of lumber, kraft paper, fine paper, newsprint, chemicals, charcoal and many other products.

  • In the Eastern deltas hardwoods grow in the swamps and river bottoms. The Ozark Mountains are home to a mix of slower growing pines and hardwoods.The rolling hills to the south contain more pine

The Timber Industry

timber town development

Northern lumber entrepreneurs acquired timberlands in the late 19th century and would then hire men, create feeder lines into the forests, build large sawmills, and begin to harvest the virgin forests. Over time additional power equipment , such as tree cutters, road building machinery, haulers, and material management tools, supported larger operations,.

  • The Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF) of the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service was one of the first experimental forests in the southern United States. It has provided decades of scientific research on topics ranging from forest ecology and silviculture to wildlife, hydrology and soils in the loblolly and shortleaf pine-dominated forests of the Upper West Gulf Costal Plain geographic province.

Timber Town Development

railroad development

The construction of railroads had a significant impact on the state, creating towns where none had existed.

  • While very little passenger servise still sxists, many of the same routes are used to transport a wide variety of goods throughout the state and beyond.
  • The relationship between railroads and the timber industry was mutually beneficial. The railroads needed cross ties and products to carry to market; the timber industry needed transportation and the mechanical skills supplied by railroad men.

Railroad Development

hot springs
Hot Springs
  • On April 20, 1832 Andrew Jackson signed an act establishing Hot Springs National Park in order to preserve the springs there for public benefit.
  • In the early 19th century, Hot Springs was one of several spa towns offering medicinal tourism.
  • Today Hot Springs offers visitors a wide variety of activities including horse racing at Oaklawn, rides and amusement at Magic Springs theme park, botanical gardens, shopping, and hiking.
eureka springs

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Eureka Springs’ growth was due almost entirely to the construction of a short railroad line connected to Frisco Railroad’s main line at Seligman Missouri.

  • Eureka Springs lures tourists by celebrating the traditional culture of the Ozarks.
  • It well known today as a resort get away for couples, a top shopping destination, and a prime location to experience Arkansas art, culture and heritage.

Eureka Springs

the arkansas oil industry

From 1920 to 2003, more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil have been produced in Arkansas.

  • More than 85% of the oil produced has come from Union, Lafayette, Columbia, and Ouachita counties.
  • In 1922, the Smackover Pool was discovered near the Union-Ouachita County Line outside the farming town of Smackover. The oil producing area covered more than 25,000 acres and by 1925 had become the largest-producting oil site in the world.

The Arkansas Oil Industry

mining of bauxite for aluminum

Bauxite, the most common ore of aluminum, was designated the official state rock in 1967.

  • Arkansas’s bauxite deposits, located around the town of Bauxite in Saline County, are the largest commercially exploitable deposits in the nation.
  • Arkansas has produced more than 90% of all domestic tonnage mined throughout the 20th century.

Mining of Bauxite for Aluminum

altus wine p roduction

Winemaking in Arkansas began when European Catholics, primarily German-Swiss, immigrated to the state.

  • The two largest wineries in the state, Post Family and Wiederkehr are locate in the town of Altus and were established around 1870.

Altus Wine Production

farming of rice

Rice was designated the official state grain of Arkansas on March 27, 2007.

  • Rice was first cultivate in Arkansas in small amounts as early as 1840, however, it did not become a major crop until the start of the 20th century.
  • Today rice is grown in forty Arkansas counties, with over 1.6 mill acres in the state dedicated to rice production in 2005, making Arkansas the top rice producing state in the country.
  • In 2005 total rice production was 97.2 million hundredweight of rice.

Farming of Rice

farming of soybeans

Following WWII rice and soybean production replaced cotton as Arkansas’s major agricultural output.

  • As new technologies made clearing projects and drainage of swampland more feasible, the state saw a large increase in soybean output and soybeans quickly became the crop of choice for Delta farmers after the war.
  • By 1960, about 6 acres of soybeans were planted for each acre of cotton.

Farming of Soybeans

fruit festivals in arkansas

Arkansas is home to a wide selection of fruit festivals occurring throughout the year including: Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, Johnson County Peach Festival in Clarksville, Grapefest in Altus, Cave City Watermelon Festival, Apple Festival in Lincoln

  • The Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln is held been on the first weekend in October since 1976. Established traditions at the festival include live music, square dancing, an arts and crafts fair, and a parade. Free samples of apple cider and apple slices are given away throughout the festival.

Fruit Festivals in Arkansas

little rock industry

Axciom- global interactive marketing services company headquartered in Little Rock. Annual revenue 1.38 billion

  • Alltel- until its acquisition by Verizon in ‘08 was the 5th largest wireless telecommunications company in the U.S. with 8.8 billion in annual revenues.
  • TCBY – international frozen yogurt vender which grew over 19 years from a single store in Little Rock to a 3,000 outlet franchise. Aquired by Mrs. Fields Famous Brands in 2000.
  • Maybelline – makeup brand sold world-wide and owned by L’Oreal. In 1975 the company moved its factory to Little Rock where it is still located.

Little Rock Industry

poultry industry

The Arkansas poultry industry first emerged in the 1890s. A century later, Tyson Foods, based in Springdale, had become one of the largest agribusiness firms in the United States.

  • By the 1970s, Tyson, along with in-state competitors ConAgra and Pilgrim’s Pride propelled Arkansas into becoming the nation’s number-one poultry producer.
  • Problems facing the poultry industry include straining local infrastructure due to immigration of cheep labor from Latin America, environmental concerns stemming from poultry-waste runoff, and the possibility of a global avian influenza pandemic.

Poultry Industry

trucking and transportation logistics

Prominant Arkansas trucking firms include Shaw, JB Hunt, ABC, and PAM.

  • The rise of Arkansas’s trucking firms coincided with, and reinforced, the developing poultry industry.
  • J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., is Arkansas’s largest trucking company and one of the largest transportation logistics providers in North America.
  • This Arkansas-based company employs 16,000 people and operates more than 11,000 tractors and 47,000 trailers, with annual revenues exceeding 2 billion.

Trucking and Transportation Logistics

wind power industry
Wind Power Industry
  • LM Glasfiberis a blade manufacturer in Little Rock, where its North American headquarters are located.
  • Polymarin Composites is another blade manufacturer in LR. Ben. One of Polymarin’s main suppliers is Wind, Water Technologies, which has a factory collocated with Polymarin in LR.
  • Nordex is ready to break ground on a new $100 million factory in Jonesboro. Nordex is a major turbine manufacturer from Germany. The headquarters for Nordex is in Chicago.
industrial production

Whirlpool Corporation is a global manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances with annual sales of $19 billion. They have manufacturing facilities in Fort Smith, AR.

  • ShakespeareFishing Tackle – founded in 1896, they manufacture fishing rods, reels, tackle, and accessories. In 1965 they moved their reel production to Fayetteville, AR.
  • Baldor Electric – markets, designs, and manufactures industrial electric motors, mechanical power transmission products, drives and generators. Founded in 1920, the y generate annual revenues of 721 million dollars and are headquartered in Fort Smith.

Industrial Production

arkansas banking investment banks

Arkansas is home to a strong banking sector with 143 banks with assets totaling $53 billion headquartered in the state, and 1,488 branches. Notable examples include:

Arkansas Banking/ Investment Banks

  • Arvest - $10 Billion in Assets
  • Bank of Arkansas – $24 Billion in Assets
  • Pulaski Bank and Trust – 5.37 Billion in Assets
  • Signature Bank – 1.2 Billion in Assets
  • Metropolitan – 1.67 Billion in Assets
arkansas retail

Walmart – founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, Walmart is the world’s largest public corporation by revenue, with over $404 billion in revenue annually. It is also the largest employer in the U.S. with more than two million associates and tens of thousands of stores around the world.

  • Dillard’s – founded in 1938 by William T. Dillard, this department store chain is based in Little Rock, and has 330 stores in 29 states throughout the U.S.. This company employes approx. 53,598 people and has annual revenues of $7.59 billion.

Arkansas Retail


Notable attractions include Arkansas State Parks, National Parks, lakes, rivers, hunting, fishing, water sports, camping, and hiking.

  • In 2000, an estimated 20.3 million visitors came to Arkansas and spent $3.8 billion.
  • Tourists come to Arkansas for its many sports and recreational opportunities, as well as its natural beauty.
  • Arkansas is home to a 51 scenic and recreational state parks, such as Mt. Magazine and Petit Jean State Parks.
  • It is also an excellent location for water sports and fishing.
  • The newest notable tourist attraction is the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.


preservation of natural areas

The Buffalo National River, became the first national river in the United States on March 1, 1972. It is one of the few remaining unpolluted, free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states.

  • Today, the Buffalo National River is one of the leading tourist destinations in Arkansas, with park visitations averaging more that 800,000 visitors a year.
  • The park offers more than 100 miles of hiking trails, and emcompasses several large caves, including Fitton Cave, the longest cave in Arkansas.

Preservation of Natural Areas

fayetteville shale

The Fayetteville Shale is a black, organic-rich rock of Mississippian age that underlies much of northern Arkansas and adjacent states.

  • It produces natural gas in the central portion of the Arkoma basin. The productive wells penetrate the Fayetteville Shale at depths between a few hundred and 7,000 below the surface.
  • The first wells to produce natural gas from the Fayetteville Shale were traditional vertical wells with low to moderate production rates. In recent years horizontal wells have been drilled through the rock unit, intersecting large numbers of vertical fractures which bring a flow of gas into the well and drain the surrounding rock.

Fayetteville Shale

arkansas entrepreneurs

Notable examples include:

  • Patricia P. Upton
  • Sam M. Walton
  • Sissy Jones
  • The Joshua’s
  • Forrest L. Wood
  • Lorena Larson
  • Charles H. Murphy Jr.
  • William T. Dillard

Arkansas Entrepreneurs