Arkansas history is super interesting, or at least what most of us remember about it from the fifth grade is pretty awesome. And those cool factoids? Heck yes! The mockingbird is our state bird. (Mock on, mockingbird!) It turns out, though, there’s more to the story of Arkansas than what we were taught. From the bloody to the fruitful, here are 15 things you probably didn’t learn about in school:
1. There was once a violent death on the floor of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Speaker of the House John Wilson killed Representative Joseph J. Anthony in 1837. They’d had a duel over paying bounties on wolf pelts.
2. Arkansas had a Revolutionary War skirmish.
In 1783, Spanish forces, who supported the colonial effort, held Arkansas Post. They were attacked by the British. The six hour siege ended with the defeat of the British forces. The commander of the British forces was named James Colbert, so this is called the Colbert Incident or the Colbert Raid.
3. In 1846, after two state-chartered banks collapsed, the Arkansas legislature added an amendment to the constitution prohibiting the establishment of any banking institution.
I guess they wanted Arkansans to store money like old-timey cartoon robbers?
4. Arkansas had its own civil war and armed military takeover. There’s a monument to this struggle on the grounds of the Old State House in Little Rock. Ladies and gentleman, meet Lady Baxter:
It was called the Brooks-Baxter War. It began in 1874 and was over a contested 1872 gubernatorial election.
5. Fort Smith is the second biggest city in Arkansas.
No, it’s not Fayetteville.
6. Though the Arkansas native Eastern Elk was hunted to extinction by the late 1800s, there is a new, thriving herd of Western Elk in Arkansas.
If you want to see them, try the Buffalo National River up in Ponca.
7. If you’ve been walking around humming The Imperial March from Star Wars, thank Pine Bluff for producing Freeman Owens. He was the first guy to figure out how to put sound and film together.
8. Arkansas isn’t famous for being rainy, but it’s rainier than famously precipitous Washington state.
Annual precipitation totals for Arkansas come to 50.6 inches. Washington only gets about 38.4 inches per year.
9. In 2014, The Washington Post supported Mountain View’s claim to being the Folk Music Capital of the World.
This is due in part to the music festivals held there, but it probably helps that McSpadden Mountain Dulcimers makes some of the finest handmade dulcimers in the world. Ozark Folk Center State Park is also located in Mountain View. You can take classes on jig dancing, herb growing, and, of course, dulcimer playing.
10. Thanks to native Ben Pearson and the company he started, Pine Bluff produces more bows than any other town.
Like, the archery kind.
11. The diamond is Arkansas’s state gem, and it’s because we’ve got a park where the public can dig for diamonds. It’s the only mine of its kind in the entire world.
12. Hot Springs doesn’t have that –s on the end for nothing. There are 47 hot springs there.
What is now Hot Springs National Park was the first federally protected recreation area. Before the National Park Service or Yellowstone National Park were even a gleam in the eye of Congress, Hot Springs was set aside for that purpose.
13. In the 20th century, Arkansas was responsible for ninety percent of the world’s bauxite production.
If you don’t know what bauxite is, I will tell you: it’s the world’s biggest source of aluminum. You’re welcome.
14. Arkansas produces more rice and poultry than any other state.
15. In fact, Arkansas produces almost every crop that can be grown in the United States, with the notable exception of citrus fruits.
Yeah, lemons just don’t grow well here. We still love our lemonade though.
Did you learn these facts in school? Do you know other tidbits? If so, please share with the class.