Arkansas

What did singers Johnny Cash and Glenn Campbell, President Clinton, author John Grisham, actor Billy Bob Thornton, Walmart founder Sam Walton, General Douglas McArthur, and poet Maya Angelou all have in common?  They’re all from Arkansas. Originally part of the Louisiana Purchase, the area was first owned by France, then went to Spain in 1762 and back to France, before it was purchased by the United States in 1803. Early settlers were not allowed to travel more than 20 miles from home without a passport outlining the roads they planned to travel and where they would visit. In a region where the Old South meets the Old West, the landscape changes moving from East to West and South to North. Climbing out of the Mississippi River Valley, it’s as flat as the delta bayou. On hot summer days, the river flows as slow as molasses and life moves at the same pace. Further north and west, hills and valleys become more distinct until you reach the Ozarks, a huge plateau carved by rivers eroding the land over millenniums with mountains poking out. As you move west to what was once a lawless frontier, it’s more like Texas.  Quaint towns give a European flavor to the Arkansas River Valley where gently falling rains coax wine grapes to full flavor. A number of limestone caves dot the hills. Within a culture that has been impacted by Spanish Explorers, frontiersmen, Civil War soldiers, and the Great Depression, communities remain strong and work together to maintain age old traditions. And don’t forget Little Rock, home of Civil Rights protests and the Clinton Presidential Library, honoring its favorite son. The building itself is a dramatic as the story inside, a statement of transition between old and new, the south, the Midwest, and the west, so ably seen in the surrounding landscape and culture.     

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Sylamore Scenic Byway

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Arkansas Scenic Byways

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