'The Arkansea' was a land of mystery, wonder and riches...
Back east rumors grew of the Arkansea, a land of vast swamps, gators, buffalo, elk, beaver, and more bear than could be imagined. There were huge flocks of green and yellow parakeets, and passenger pigeons would darken the summer sky. Stories were told about rugged mountains looming over stream-filled valleys. Legends told of their hot, healing waters. The Arkansea was a land of mystery, wonder and riches.
The French claimed this land in 1686, setting a flag at the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. They explored, trapped and traded here leaving names like Fourche la Fave, and Petit Jean.
The Quapaw, Osage and Caddo had long enjoyed the riches of Arkansas. In the late 1700s, Cherokee settled throughout this stretch of the Arkansas River, and the Choctaw had treaty lands south of the river. In the 1820s, the Eagle, the first steamboat to ascend the Arkansas, did so to bring supplies to the Cherokee school at Dwight Mission, passing the river landmark Dardanelle Rock, which you can see across the river today.
Arkansas' many rivers were important in this wild land. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, these "water highways" brought people to settlements
at Davidsonville on the Black River, Batesville on the White River, Moro and Ecore a Fabre (Camden) on the Ouachita River, Fulton on the Red River, and Cadron and Dardanelle on the Arkansas River.
Rivers connected these frontier communities with trading and manufacturing centers on New Orleans, on the East Coast and Europe ... and trade flourished.