CLOSE
Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

25 All-Natural Facts About Arkansas

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Bordering Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, America’s landlocked 25th state is full of food festivals, spooky legends, and rare animals. Here are 25 facts you might not know about “The Natural State.”

1. Though Kansas and Arkansas both derive their name from the same etymological source, the word “Arkansas” is pronounced with a silent “s” at the end, while the “s” in “Kansas” is pronounced. French settlers mistakenly called the Quapaw people, then living in Arkansas, the Arcansas after learning about them from the Algonquin, and their pronunciation stuck. Acansa is a combination of the Algonquin prefix a-, referring to an ethnic group, and the Siouan word /kká:ze. Meanwhile, the actual Kansa lived along the Kansas river. There, the English pronunciation won out. 

2. Arkansans take their state’s pronunciation so seriously, it’s actually against state law to mispronounce the word “Arkansas” while in the state.

3. Country music legend Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas. He immortalized his feelings about his home state in the song “Arkansas Lovin’ Man.”

4. Diamond State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, is home to the only diamond-producing mine in the United States—the largest diamond ever discovered in North America, weighing in at 40.23 carats, was found there 1924. It was called the “Uncle Sam Diamond.” 

5. Nowadays, Diamond State Park is open to the public, and anyone can search for diamonds there—for a small fee. It’s the only diamond-producing site in the world that lets the public dig for diamonds. 

6. Former president Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas, and served twice as governor of the state before becoming president. Today, you can visit his presidential library in Little Rock. 

 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain


7.
Sam Walton opened the first ever Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. Though the discount department store chain has gone on to open locations around the world, its headquarters are still in Arkansas. Today, the original Walmart location has been transformed into a Walmart museum, featuring exhibits and even an old-timey soda fountain. 

8. Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of his masterpiece A Farewell to Arms at his wife’s family’s home in Piggott, Arkansas. The site is now a museum.

9. Arkansas, known as "The Natural State," is made up of several diverse climates—often divided into six geographic regions—which range from the mountainous Ozarks region in the north, to the swamps and bayous in the eastern delta region, to the forest-blanketed Timberlands in the southwest.

10. There is an alligator farm in Hot Springs that’s been running since 1902. The folks at the farm not only raise alligators, they also operate an alligator petting zoo that lets visitors get up close and personal with the reptiles. 

 


11.
Arkansas is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including one species of terrestrial snail that’s only found in the state. Called the Magazine Mountain shagreen, the species inhabits just 22 cumulative acres around Magazine Mountain, Arkansas’s highest peak. 

12. Arkansas has a rich culinary history. It’s home to numerous food festivals, including The Johnson County Peach FestivalThe Cave City Watermelon Festival, and the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off

13. Arkansans love celebrating their favorite foods so much, several towns have declared themselves “Capitals” of their favorite fruits and vegetables. For instance, Alma, Arkansas, has declared itself the "Spinach Capital of the World" (the town was home to a massive spinach canning plant and has its own annual Spinach Festival, as well as a Popeye statue); meanwhile, Mulberry calls itself the “Edamame Capital of the U.S.” and Cave City has dubbed itself the “Home of the World’s Sweetest Watermelons.”

14. Arkansas is the biggest rice-producing state in the United States, accounting for 48 percent of the country’s rice production. Nearly 9 billion pounds of the grain are grown in Arkansas annually.

15. Legend has it that the Fouke Monster, or "Southern Sasquatch," roams the swamplands around Fouke, Arkansas, destroying livestock and occasionally attacking people. The myth has become so popular, it was even the subject of a 1972 horror movie called The Legend of Boggy Creek.

16. The design for the state flag of Arkansas was chosen by contest in 1913, and honors the state’s diamond mining history by portraying the state’s name in the center of a diamond.

iStock

17. The fiddle was adopted as Arkansas’ official state instrument in 1985. It has long been associated with the folk music and culture of early Arkansas. 

18. In order to honor the state’s musical history, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View holds an annual “Old-Time Fiddling Championship.”

19. The official state beverage of Arkansas is milk. 

20. In 1991, the Square Dance was named the official state dance of Arkansas. 

21. Since the 1830s, people have been getting the spa treatment at the natural hot springs in Hot Springs National Park. Some of America's most famous (and/or infamous) people have traveled from all over to bathe in the springs, such as Babe Ruth, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Al Capone.

 

iStock


22.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is home to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, which is the oldest nonfiction film festival in North America.

23. Until 1932, it was illegal for a man and woman to openly flirt on the streets of Arkansas’s capital, Little Rock. (Although, to be fair, it was an ordinance enacted as a way to make it more difficult for brothels to conduct their businesses [PDF].) 

24. There is a 65.5 foot statue of Jesus that sits atop Magnetic Mountain in Eureka Springs. Called “Christ of the Ozarks,” it was built in 1966. One art critic likened it to a “milk carton with a tennis ball stuffed on its top.”


25.
Paranormal investigators have long puzzled over Arkansas’s Dover Lights, a mysterious illuminationthat occurs in an Ozarks valley. Some believe the wandering lights are the ghosts of coal miners killed in a mine collapse, while others think the lights belong to the spirits of Spanish Conquistadors, lost in the hills while searching for gold.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
geography
Researchers Pinpoint the Geographic Location of "The Middle of Nowhere"
iStock
iStock

The place to go when you want to get away from it all, The Washington Post reports, is Glasgow, Montana. About 4.5 hours from the nearest city, it's about as close as you can get to "the middle of nowhere" in the contiguous U.S. while still being in a decently-sized town.

Glasgow's isolated status was determined in a study from Oxford University published in the journal Nature [PDF]. Scientists at the Malaria Atlas Project, a part of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, wanted to use geography and demographic data to see which towns qualify as truly being in the middle of nowhere. For the study, a town was defined as having a population of at least 1000, and a metropolitan area as having 75,000 residents or more.

After crunching the numbers on the elevation levels, transportation options, and terrain types around America, they were able to say roughly how long it would take for someone to traverse any given square kilometer of land in the country. If you're one of the 3363 people living in Glasgow, which is nestled in northeastern Montana, it would take you between 4 and 5 hours to drive to the nearest metro area. That entire corner of the state lays claim to the title of Middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. Scobey, Montana, less than 100 miles from Glasgow, is the second most isolated small town in the country, and Wolf Point, less than 50 miles away, takes third place.

Go beyond the continental U.S. and you'll find plenty of places that aren't even accessible by car. Here are more isolated towns you have to travel to the middle of nowhere to reach.

[h/t The Washington Post]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
CityWood, Kickstarter
arrow
Art
Laser-Cut Wood Maps Showcase World Cities
CityWood, Kickstarter
CityWood, Kickstarter

You can already express your love for your local geography with a chocolate map or a custom-designed poster. The latest material for immortalizing your home city is laser-cut wood. As Curbed reports, CityWood is a line of striking, minimalist maps currently raising funds on Kickstarter. (The campaign has blown past its original $3000 goal by raising more than $73,000 so far—and counting.)

CityWood offers maps of nearly 100 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. The waterways and city streets of each location are engraved into high-quality plywood using a laser cutter. The map is then put together by hand, and packaged inside a wood frame behind plexiglass.

Customers have their choice of sizes, from a small 5-inch-by-7-inch map for their desk to a 36-inch-by-36-inch display for their wall. Prices range from $29 to $439.

To preorder a CityWood map of your own, you can pledge to the product’s Kickstarter before the campaign ends on February 16. CityWood is also accepting votes on new cities to add to its lineup.

Wooden maps of various sizes.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map of city.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map on wall with chair.
CityWood, Kickstarter

[h/t Curbed]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios