The Great South - Down the Mississippi

Minerals, Hot Springs & Forests

The resources of Arkansas are, like those of all the other southern and south-western states, as yet but little drawn upon by the resident population; and they are immense. Arkansas contains twelve thousand square miles of coal, and a valuable coal basin is situated along both sides of the Arkansas river. In Sebastian county there are veins of coal six feet thick. A lead belt extends diagonally across the State; the lead and silver mines in Sevier county promise much. Clay, kaolin, gypsum, copper and zinc are found in profusion; manganese, ochre and paint earths are to be had in many counties; and there are vast quarries of slate, whetstone, limestone, and marble. Iron ore has been discovered at various points; but the coal stores are the great treasure, and must some time enrich the State.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad has brought the Hot Springs, that famous Bethesda of the rheumatic and scrofulous unfortunate, within convenient distance of a Pullman Palace car. The staging is now eighteen instead of eighty-five miles to the Bad-Gastein of America, which lies in a wild mountainous region.

 The hot springs issue from the western slope of a spur of the Ozark range, about fourteen hundred feet above the sea level. There are now nearly sixty of these springs, new ones appearing annually. Their temperature varies from 95 to 150 Fahrenheit, and they discharge something like three hundred gallons per minute. Thousands of discouraged pilgrims flock to Hot Springs yearly, and return much recovered; while those who do not achieve a cure experience great relief. The town lies in a valley which follows the Hot Spring Creek, and is very well supplied with hotels and neat but inexpensive residences. I did not penetrate to the springs, but heard very powerful testimony in their favor. It is expected, and, I think, desired that the United States, which has a disputed claim to the Hot Springs reservation, should succeed in getting possession, and making it a grand sanitary resort free to all.

The forests of Arkansas offer the most stupendous chances for the development of State wealth. The yellow pine and cypress, the cedar, the cottonwood, the mulberry, the oaks, hickories, sumac, pecans, and ash, grow along the navigable streams, and can be easily borne to market on the bosoms of the great currents. There are still in the State eight millions of acres of land belonging to the United States, subject to homestead entry, and these are among the best in Arkansas. A decent home government, and the progress of education among the masses would enable the State to leap into as wonderful a growth as that achieved by Texas and Missouri. But there is a great deal to do before that prosperity can be achieved.

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Last updated 10/07/2009.