7 Facts & Bits of History That Keep Things Interesting in the Natural State
First, Arkansas is indeed “The Natural State” with six national and 50 state parks, 2.5 million acres of national forests, and 10 national or state scenic byways, plus 600,000 acres of lakes, more than 9,500 miles of streams and rivers, and America’s only active diamond mine.
Arkansas is the leading producer of rice in the United States, growing nearly 50% of the nation’s supply and contributing about $6 billion annually to the state’s economy.
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum is located in the state capital of Little Rock. Other famous native Arkansans include composer Scott Joplin, General Douglas McArthur, music legends Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell, author John Grisham, and baseball Hall-of-Famers Dizzy Dean, Brooks Robinson, and Lou Brock.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville offers an impressive collection of famous works by artists like Norman Rockwell and derives its name from the glass-enclosed bridges over ponds on the site.
Hot Springs Village is America’s largest gated community at 26,000 total acres, roughly 40 square miles.
Arkansas was included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and became a state in 1836. Its name derives from the French translation of the Quapaw Indian word “acansa,” which means “downstream place.”
The first woman ever elected to the United States Senate was from Arkansas— Hattie Caraway in 1932.
Walmart, the retail super-chain with more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries, and Tyson Foods, the world’s largest chicken producer, were both founded and are still headquartered in Arkansas.
The state sales tax in Arkansas is 6.5%, but prescription drugs are exempt and grocery items are taxed at just 1.5%. The effective state property tax rate of 0.59% is the 9th lowest in the nation. Social Security, VA benefits, and military retirement income are not taxed. There are no state inheritance or estate taxes.
Native Americans discovered the 47 springs that flow from Hot Springs Mountain at a rate of one million gallons per day and an average temperature of 143 degrees F. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson designated the area as a “federal reservation,” effectively making it America’s first national park. From the 1880s through the 1930s, the wide-open town became a haven for gangsters like Al Capone and hosted spring training for baseball stars like Babe Ruth. Today, Hot Springs is a major tourist destination with attractions like the thermal baths, The Gangster Museum of America, Hot Springs Baseball Trail, and Oaklawn Racing & Gaming with the region’s premier horse track and casino.