Arkansas River Valley

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Arkansas River Valley
The River Valley
Region
The River Valley as seen from atop Petit Jean Mountain in Petit Jean State Park
The River Valley as seen from atop Petit Jean Mountain in Petit Jean State Park
Etymology: The Arkansas River
Country United States
State Arkansas
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 479, 501

The Arkansas River Valley (usually shortened to River Valley) is a region in Arkansas defined by the Arkansas River in the western part of the state. Generally defined as the area between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains,[1] the River Valley is characterized by flat lowlands covered in fertile farmland and lakes periodically interrupted by high peaks. Mount Magazine, Mount Nebo, and Petit Jean Mountain compose the Tri-Peaks Region, (tri means three), a further subdivision of the River Valley popular with hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. In addition to the outdoor recreational activities available to residents and visitors of the region, the River Valley contains Arkansas's wine country as well as hundreds of historical sites throughout the area.It is one of six natural divisions of Arkansas[2]

Definition

The Arkansas River Valley is not formally defined along county boundaries, including all of Logan and Sebastian counties and portions of Conway, Franklin, Perry, Pope, and Yell counties.

Subdivisions

  • Arkansas Valley Hills - North and east of the Arkansas River, sometimes associated with the Ozarks
  • Bottomlands - Low swamps and prairies along the Arkansas River itself, 10 miles (16 km) wide in some places
  • Fort Smith metropolitan area - Sebastian, Crawford, and Franklin counties in Arkansas (also includes Le Fore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma)
  • Ozark National Forest - a small, discontinuous portion of the federally protected area is within the region
  • Tri-peaks Region - Region punctuated by three steep mountains: Mount Magazine, Mount Nebo and Petit Jean Mountain
  • Valley - south of the Arkansas River, level plains and gently rolling hills
  • Wine Country - American Viticultural Area near Altus

History

Anthropomorphic cave art in Rock House Cave at Petit Jean State Park

In the Pre-Colonial era, the River Valley was inhabited by Native American tribes, including Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Osage, Tunica, and Quapaw tribes. Most first encounters describe scattered villages and individual farmsteads in the River Valley, unlike the organized "towns" and groves and orchards encountered in eastern Arkansas.[3] Much of what is known about these early societies has been uncovered by the Arkansas Archaeological Survey and the Arkansas Archaeological Society at Carden Bottoms in Yell County near the Arkansas and Petit Jean Rivers.[4] Research at the site has linked artifacts to cave art (pictured at right) in a cave on Petit Jean Mountain, as well as establishing links to the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw tribes.[5]

Hernando de Soto became the first European explorer to enter Arkansas in 1541. His expedition of 600 Spanish explorers searching for gold and riches crossed into Arkansas across the Mississippi River, and explored the state for the next two years. The expedition traveled to Tanico, an important city somewhere in the River Valley, in September 1542. The following month, the expedition fought with a tribe referred to as the Tula somewhere near Fort Smith. This fighting apparently caused de Soto to turn the expedition back east, leaving the River Valley.[6]

Geography

Geology

Cities

The most populous city within the River Valley is Fort Smith, the principal city of the Fort Smith metropolitan area that also includes Van Buren and Alma. Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas, and serves as a regional hub for culture, health care and transportation. Approximately 84 miles (135 km) east, Russellville was the sixteenth largest city in Arkansas at the 2010 Census.[7] The city is an important economic, education and population center in the state. Other cities in the River Valley are mostly of county-level significance, gateways to nearby recreational sites or small rural settlements. Cities such as Booneville, Clarksville, Morrilton, Paris, and Perryville serve as cultural and economic centers within the rural counties of the River Valley.[8]

Protected areas

The River Valley contains a large quantity of protected areas, with broad diversity across the region and several different managing agencies.

Recreation

Livestock grazing in a flat, flowering pasture near Mulberry

The United States Forest Service operates both the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark National Forest within the region, offering trails, camping, and fishing over thousands of acres of public land. The state operates four parks within the region: Lake Dardanelle State Park, Mount Magazine State Park, Mount Nebo State Park, and Petit Jean State Park.[9]

See also

References

  1. Arkansas Tour Guide. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. 2013. p. 142.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Arkansas Tour Guide. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. 2013. p. 141.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Sabo III, George (2014-05-28). "Native Americans". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 2016-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Stewart-Abernathy, Leslie C. (2015-10-01). "Carden Bottom". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 2016-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Clahchischiligi, Sunnie (2011-06-16). "Osages participate in Carden Bottoms excavation in western Arkansas". Osage News. Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Retrieved 2016-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mitchem, Jeffrey M. (2014-05-28). "Route of the De Soto Expedition". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 2016-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Google Maps (Search for Russellville, AR and Fort Smith, AR)". Google. Retrieved 2016-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Arkansas Tour Guide. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. 2013. p. 4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "State Parks". Arkansas River Valley Tri-Peaks Association. 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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