The Arkansas River Valley is more than just another beautiful landmark to cross off your bucket list. In fact, it is a space overflowing with rich history and exciting stories of those who have walked before us. From flooding to wars to landslides and more, Mother Nature has brought it through a lot. Nevertheless, The Arkansas River Valley has remained an alluring part of the country, attracting tourists from around the world every single year.
The Arkansas River was not always known by its now famous name. Upon first discovery by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in the mid 16th century, it was named “St. Peter and St. Paul’s River” according to LegandsofAmerica.com. However, after some time, the now Arkansas River became aptly known as “Akansa” by early French wanderers, in large part thanks to a nearby Dakota or Osage Indian tribe.
Of course, long before the Arkansas River was ever discovered by Europeans, it was known well among a variety of Native American Tribes. These tribes typically lived in individual villages spread throughout the Arkansas River Valley, usually placed around ceremonial centers and other important relics according to EncyclopediaofArkansas.net.
Expanding Western Society
Without the Arkansas River, Western society as we know it today could be much different. According to EncyclopediaofArkansas.net, “Early explorers such as Zebulon Pike followed it westward. The river served as the boundary between the United States and Mexico from 1820 to 1846, and the Santa Fe Trail followed the Arkansas River through much of Kansas.”
This expedition would later be known as the “Pike Expedition”. After much trial and error through mountains and rough waters, the Pike Expedition is where Pike and his men would eventually stumble across the Arkansas River in November of 1806.
In other words, without the Arkansas River, important discoveries of the 19th century may not have come to pass until much later.
The Arkansas River was formed nearly 8,000 years ago due to glacier melting which lead to the forming of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi then produced multiple offshoots, the most important of those being the Arkansas River.
Thanks to the rich floodplains of the Arkansas River, a number of settlement cities have been produced along its shores. Additionally, the Arkansas River separates the famous Ozark Mountains from the Ouachita Mountains, making for a variety of landscapes to be seen on differing sides of the river.
Today, the Arkansas River has proven itself to be a hotbed for trout fishing thanks to its nutrient dense waters. The river is also used for recreational purposes like whitewater rafting along the portion which juts out from the Rocky Mountains. It is also a prime source of water for agricultural irrigation.
The abundant history that the Arkansas River area has to offer is only one of many reasons to visit this great and plentiful state. Not only can you enjoy Arkansas’ immense beauty during your stay at Russellville’s Econo Lodge, you can also leave having experienced an entirely new and exciting part of history.