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Arkansas is rural. Visitors can travel for miles through its pine forest., bayous and mountains without encountering another living soul. This homey solitude has had a tremendous influence on Arkansas' culture. In an isolation that continued into the 20th century, the residentes os the Orzark "hollers" maintained and passed on old stories and folk songs that are among America's greatest culture treasures. Even in present times, when fork music and traditional crafts are appreciated more than ever before, visitors can find pockets of authentically Orzark life in little towns such as Mountain View.

Arkansas became part of the United States in 1903 with the Lousiana Purchase. It was sparsely populated at first; settlers seemed to pass through the territory on their way to somewhere farther west. But by the time Arkansas was admitted to the Union in 1836, the state had 50.000 residents and was growing.

By 1861, Arkansas was torn by political tensions. The first resolution to secede was voted down. But when Fort Sumter surrendered, Arkansas voted to join the Confederacy. The satate sent 60.000 men to fight for the South, but 6000 while and 5000 black Arkansans fought with the Union. These tensions were still unresolved almost 100 years later when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Litthle Rock to enforce the school board's desegregation policy.

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One of Arkansas' most consistently popular destinations is Hot Springs, where 850.000 gallons of water a day, naturally heated to 143 Farenheit, bubble up from the deep subterranean caverns of the earth. By 1874, Hot Springs was a world-class resort with beautifully appointed marble bathhouses and a clientele that included Jay Glould, Andrew Carnegie, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Babe Ruth.

Arkansas is the leading producer of rica in the U.S. and has the only diamong mine in North America. It is the only state ever to pass a resolution on how to pronounce its name (in 1881, the state legislature voted that the final "s" is silent). And recently, Arkansas sent its first native son to the White House. In 1992 and again in 1996, William Jefferson Clinton (Bill Clinton) from the town of Hope was elected president of the United States.


 

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