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.
“The Centennial State” joined the Union during the nation’s 100th-anniversary year of 1876.
According to a 2014 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Coloradans have a life expectancy of 80.2 years, the longest of any state.
The Coors Brewing Company operates the world’s largest single-site brewery in Golden, Colorado.
North America’s tallest sand dune rises more than 700 feet above the valley floor in the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa.
Colorado has no inheritance or estate taxes.
The federal government owns nearly 25 million acres in Colorado, about 37% of the entire state, including the U.S. Air Force Academy and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), as well as four National Parks, 11 National Forests, and 42 National Wilderness Areas.
The town of Deer Trail hosted the world’s first rodeo on July 4, 1869.
Well-known Colorado natives include actors Tim Allen, Lon Cheney, and Douglas Fairbanks; astronauts Scott Carpenter and Jack Swigert; Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser; boxer Jack Dempsey; MLB pitchers Goose Gossage and Roy Halladay; writer Ken Kesey; Supreme Court justices Byron White and Neal Gorsuch; and South Park creator Trey Parker.
Gold & Ghost Towns
The discovery of gold outside of Colorado Springs in 1859 set off the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. The world’s largest silver nugget weighing 1,840 pounds was unearthed near Aspen in 1894. Today, the state has more than 640 ghost towns.
Colorado’s average elevation of 6,800 feet above sea level is the highest of any state and contains 75% of the land area of the U.S. with an altitude of over 10,000 feet.
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Scotch Hall Preserve is a North Carolina waterfront community set on a prominent headland where Salmon Creek and the Chowan River flow into Albemarle Sound. Native Americans called the area “Avoca,” meaning “the meeting of the waters.”
Lois and Richard Gobbi are originally from California but moved to Maryland 20 years ago because of his engineering work. As they neared retirement age, the Gobbis began a search that eventually brought them to North Carolina.
“We were looking for a water view where we could build our dream retirement home,” Lois said. “We looked extensively in Maryland and Virginia and found places that just didn’t suit us at much higher prices. The value of the property here was a definite attraction.”
The Gobbis found that perfect view at a Scotch Hall Preserve homesite overlooking the sound and moved into their dream home in 2017. But, like many couples who move to warmer climes these days, they didn’t both retire right away. Lois had finished up her work in a high school counseling office in 2016, but Richard still consults for a government contractor from his home office.
“Working from home allows him to enjoy the beauty of Scotch Hall and continue his career,” Lois said. She also has a home art studio for a hobby that has become a new calling as she’s gotten more involved in community life. “I’m on the HOA Advisory Board and Architectural Review Committee,” she said, “and I’ve organized art classes for the residents. My love is for painting and helping others learn to paint is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Scotch Hall is such a special place, not just
because of its beautiful surroundings, but because
of the wonderful people in our community.
— Louis Gobbi
Scotch Hall’s Arnold Palmer Signature golf course also proved to be irresistible. “With the beautiful course right outside our door,” Lois said, “we have both taken up golf, which is new for us.” Other outdoor recreations have also become part of their lifestyle. “The swimming pool is a big attraction for us and our family and friends,” she continued. “During the summer, I do water aerobics classes three days a week. We also enjoy jet skiing and tried kayaking with the family recently. We’re going to buy our own kayaks and maybe build our own dock in the future.”
And, the Gobbis have found a lot to like just beyond the Scotch Hall gates. “We really enjoy trips to Edenton, which is 20 minutes over the bridge from our home,” Richard said. “Edenton has become our local town where we attend church, shop at the farmers market, and frequent the local stores and restaurants.”
“We also love to go to the Outer Banks, which is a little over an hour and a half away,” Lois added. “We always stop at Manteo, a quaint town on the water with shopping and restaurants.”
“And, we’re planning to explore more of North Carolina,” Richard said, “especially west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Asheville area.”
Closer to home, the Gobbis have made new friends and hosted holiday dinners for their neighbors. “Scotch Hall is such a special place,” Lois concluded, “not just because of its beautiful surroundings, but because of the wonderful people in our community.”
At “The Meeting of the Waters,” Lois and Richard Gobbi have found just the right balance for the ongoing adventure of their lives.
The main road that frames the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi and stretches west from downtown – first through college-town neighborhoods, then past modern suburbs, and ultimately into endless acres of pine forest – is called Hardy Street.
The street is named after Captain William Harris Hardy, a civil engineer who breathed life into a couple rutted dirt roads in 1882 by bringing the railroad through and making the region a hub for transportation and timbering. Only thing was, the burgeoning town needed a name. Turns out Capt. Hardy had a wife back in Meridian, who was as Southern and gentile as a magnolia blossom, and her name was Hattie. And a town was born.
Over the decades since, Hattiesburg has become an oasis in south Mississippi for students and their educators. Entrepreneurs have taken the Southern culinary scene by storm. This city is the heartbeat of health care, and a community of folks who won’t stop until anyone moving into their silver years is engaged, healthy, and has a myriad of learning opportunities.
Favorably situated just 90 minutes by interstate from New Orleans, and the pristine gulf coast beaches of Alabama, Hattiesburg is built on three community pillars: military, education, and a sprawling medical system that provides care to a 19-county region.
While the university itself offers broad continuing education programs, some of its faculty and graduate students also teach at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), part of a nationwide network of centers that offer intellectual and cultural experiences for people in their retirement years. Located on the Southern Miss campus, OLLI boasts 176 annual classes, from beginner arts and crafts to expansive learning field trips to Mackinaw Island, the Biltmore Estate, and even an architectural dig in Scotland.
Thanks to the earnest vision of a handful of local physicians more than 50 years ago, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic are today a national-class network of four hospitals, eight regional clinics, a sparkling Orthopedics Institute, a new Hospice House, and 60 satellite locations. If the greater Hattiesburg statistical area correctly has a population of 150,000, then likely one of every 16 people in the region works in the health care industry. Suffice to say, you’re in very good hands in the Hub City.
Complementing those two pillars is a bundle of community leaders who throw challenge on their backs and mold it into progress. Among them are Rob and Craig Tatum, real estate entrepreneurs whose great-great-grandfather was a former mayor of Hattiesburg.
Recent projects of theirs include The Claiborne, a top-of-the-line independent-living and assisted living/memory care community offering every possible amenity to its residents. In downtown, the duo has transformed two century-old buildings into stylish residential lofts. And, in the burgeoning Midtown District, they just opened Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg, a luxury property that is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group.
Says Rob, “For generations, Hattiesburg has been very good to our family, so our goal now is to spare no expense in giving back to the community. If there is an extra dollar to be spent to ensure quality, we will spend it.”
Certainly the most visible of Hattiesburg’s community leaders is 36-year old Mayor Toby Barker, a former state legislator whose youthful exuberance is contagious. Mayor Barker recently established the first Director of Customer Service position, a unique role, indeed, for government.
The city’s culinary credibility is embodied largely in the native soul of Robert St. John, a nationally acclaimed restaurateur, author of 10 books, a Cooking Channel celebrity chef, and owner of five local restaurants, including Tabella, Crescent City Grill, and Purple Parrott (where the bread pudding is heavenly), all located in midtown near the Southern Miss campus.
And, there is much more to recommend Hattiesburg for a visit or longer. A certified retirement community, Hattiesburg was ranked one of the “8 Tax Friendliest Towns” in America. And, its 25-block downtown Historic Neighborhood District has one of the best collections of Victorian-era houses in Mississippi and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also on the National Register is the Saenger Theater, opened in 1929 and a rare example of a vintage Art Deco-style vaudeville and movie theater. Downtown is also said to be home of the first guitar riffs of rock and roll and boasts a live music scene that some say rivals Austin, TX.
The Hattiesburg Zoo is regarded as the #1 tourism destination in the state and houses 100 animal species, plus interactive educational programs, a High Ropes Adventure Course, and train and carousel rides. The city has also reclaimed 44 miles of historic rail line and transformed them into the Longleaf Trace, a 10-foot-wide paved trail for biking, hiking, bird watching, and more.
You just might even run into gun-slinging Super Bowl champ and legendary Southern Miss quarterback Brett Favre at the hardware store. He’s the kind of hero you could name a town after. But, the gentile, magnolia blossom that is Miss Hattie has a much nicer ring to it.
The state’s name comes from the Spanish word “nevada,” meaning “snow-covered.”
Nevada has more hotel rooms per capita than any other state, a total of nearly 190,000 rooms in 584 hotels with 15 rooms or more.
Nevada has no state, personal, or corporate income tax. The state sales tax ranges from 6.85 to 8.1 percent depending on various local-tax options.
The Oakland Raiders of the NFL will become the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020 when the team moves to the $1.8 billion domed stadium now under construction in Paradise. The Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League already skate at the nearby T-Mobile Arena, while the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA play at the Mandalay Bay Civic Center.
Nevada has more mountains than any other state except Alaska.
Nevada’s early development was spurred by the discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1859. Nicknamed “The Silver State” after admission to the Union in 1864, it remains today the nation’s largest producer of that precious ore. Nevada is also America’s largest gold-producing state and ranks fourth in the entire world.
The U.S. government owns about 85% of Nevada’s 110,540 square miles, including the famous Area 51 top-secret military zone.
Nevada Governor Fred Balzar signed the bill legalizing gambling in March 1931. The Pair-O-Dice Club opened soon thereafter as the first casino on Highway 91, better known today as the Las Vegas Strip. More than 40 million people now visit the city every year, and Clark County around Las Vegas is home to two of every three Nevadans.
Blue jeans were invented by Jacob Davis, a tailor in Reno.
The border between Nevada and neighboring California includes two noteworthy natural features: Boundary Peak, the state’s highest point at 13,145 feet above sea level, and Lake Tahoe, North America’s highest alpine lake.
Famous native-born Nevadans include tennis star Andre Agassi, race car drivers Kurt and Kyle Busch, First Lady Pat Nixon, actor Nicolas Cage, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, writer Cecelia Holland, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and baseball stars Greg Maddux, Bryce Harper, and Kris Bryant.
Reno is Nevada’s 2nd-largest city and annually hosts The Great Reno Balloon Race, the National Championship Air Races, and the Hot August Nights car convention.
The Upside to Downsizing and Organizing Your “Stuff”
I’ve relocated several times, but until my last move, they were corporate transfers; i.e. I didn’t have to pay for them. I had a blasé approach to the moving process, knowing I didn’t have to do the sorting, wrapping, packing, or unpacking, and the ace in the hole was that there was always another basement to store my extra stuff. But, when I moved to the Southeast, it was on MY dime … and there was no basement. All at once, this packing thing took on a whole different dimension, and I discovered that, although not easy, there are many upsides to downsizing/decluttering. Let’s take a look at the WHYS, then the HOWS, then the WHERES. (One important caveat: I’m not talking about downsizing the square footage of your house; I’m talking about downsizing your STUFF. About 46 percent of Boomers who plan to move expect to increase the size of their new home or to keep the same approximate square footage, according to the Demand Institute.)
The Why: Benefits of decluttering
Decluttering is healthy. Period. You save time, are more productive, and are more clear and efficient when your life and home are decluttered. How many minutes/hours have I spent over the past years looking for hand-written thoughts about an article I planned to write, notes for an interview that would be handy, or a phone number I scribbled on a piece of paper instead of entering it directly into my phone? Too many. My office tends to grow little mounds of paper that miraculously reproduce on my desk and on a chair and an ottoman in the corner of my office. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that physical clutter vies for your attention and affects your ability to focus, resulting in lower performance. I have (empty) drawers with file folders and a closet with shelves. I have no excuse.
Relive memories/find cool stuff. Cleaning out the “junk drawers” in my kitchen (I have two of them), I found dozens of “telescope” pictures we had taken over the years while vacationing in Ocean City, MD. How much fun to look at my three children (now in their 30s) as little kids and re-live those memories immortalized on a bit of film at the end of a two-inch telescope-shaped keychain. My kids and grandkids love looking at these unearthed treasures. You never know what you’ll find until you start going through your stuff. It can be a rewarding trip down memory lane.
Boost your mood/feel more competent. When I’m heading out for an appointment and cannot locate my keys or phone (I know it’s a big no-no not putting them in the same place all the time), it is stressful. Getting rid of the clutter and having everything in its place reduces anxiety and makes you feel in control.
Sleep better. A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their beds every day (almost every day) and have a tidy bedroom sleep better and more soundly than those who do not. And, the ritual of turning down a made bed helps prime our brains for sleep. I am on track with this one.
Save money/feel virtuous. With the new tax laws, most of us will be taking the standard deduction, and therefore, getting no deduction for donating our stuff, but you can still use the internet, consignment shops, or yard sales to make some money. And, giving away your things to organizations or people who can use them makes you feel good about yourself. Plus, if you’re paying for a move, less stuff equals money saved.
Your clutter will ultimately become someone else’s problem to deal with if you’re not proactive. Not a nice thing to do to your family/friends.
I’ll be the first to admit that decluttering isn’t a fun chore, although I do feel freer, lighter, and more energized after making progress. And, remember: YOUR KIDS DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF! Well, perhaps if there’s a Rolex watch or Mikimoto pearl earrings or a 1964 Ford Mustang convertible, but probably not the treadmill or your Noritake Blue Hill china from 43 years ago (take it from one who knows). But, just in case, consult them prior to the big declutter (I did want to keep a few of my parents’ things).
The How: Starting the Process
Like many things in life, there is no one right way to approach your decluttering adventure. Some experts suggest you start in the attic or top floor and work your way down. Others say do it by category (e.g. books, papers, DVDs, flat surfaces throughout the house, clothing, children’s memorabilia, pictures, etc.). Or, approach the task by time: Spend five minutes each hour putting things in their proper place, or get three big plastic bags, and work until they’re filled—one with trash, one with recyclables, and one with donations. Then, repeat on a regular schedule.
I started in my basement—I knew that was the place that had the most things I could easily throw away, give away, or recycle. Did I really need my Organic Chemistry book from graduate school? Or my broken basketball trophy from eigth grade? The outdated 52-inch big screen TV shoved into a corner? Nope. Those were easy decisions, and gave me a feeling of accomplishment. I gathered my three adult kids’ stuff I had saved from when they were little, put them into boxes, and handed them over to them, with the caveat that we’d hold onto one box each for them if they wanted us to do so. I spent 20 minutes every day decluttering. Long enough to make progress, but a short enough stint that I didn’t burn out.
It took a while, but it got done. And, I kept reminding myself that I was saving money by not paying the movers for things I’d never use anyway.
The Where: Who will take it
There are lots of options. I was lucky. One of our sons had a friend who wasn’t going to college but had a job, bought a house, and needed to furnish it. He came and hauled away our still-usable furniture and other items that wouldn’t be a good “fit” in our new house/warm climate. Friends with college kids who needed to furnish an off-campus apartment were a gold-mine. We put usable stuff at the bottom of our driveway on trash day; people would drive by and pick things up, like a Little Tikes basketball set (our kids were in their 20s when we moved). And, our trash company picked up big items on certain days with prior notification.
As their website states, “1-800-GOT-JUNK? will take anything non-hazardous that two strong, able-bodied crew members can lift.” My brother used them for a big basement declutter. They offer free estimates, and pricing is based on volume. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? claims they recycle and donate your stuff whenever possible. They do not operate in every zip code.
Free pick-ups are possible. Contact Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Amvets, St. Vincent de Paul (they picked up a lot of my donations), Vietnam Veterans of America, your local Humane Society, etc. Of course, you can always deliver your donations to them. And don’t forget local places that help others but don’t pick-up. We have a place in our county called Emmanuel’s Closet that is run by volunteers and gives donated clothing to those in need. Donation Town (www.donationtown.org) is a handy reference for charities in your area that will pick up donations.
Sell your stuff. Consider eBay, Amazon, Bonanza, or Next Door (a neighborhood network). And, there are always consignment shops or yard sales. Just be cautious about people you don’t know coming to your home.
Have you seen those “Donation Boxes” by the side of the road? They are frequently for-profit textile recycling collection bins; the donated clothing is sold to recyclers that turn them into products like insulation or padding for carpets. A small percentage of their profits may be donated to a charity. If it’s a convenient way to dispose of clothing (I am guilty), I assuage my guilt with the idea I’m keeping my clothes out of a landfill; it’s estimated the average American throws away about 80 pounds of used clothing a year.
Let’s “cut the clutter.” And, keep Frozen’s Queen Elsa’s song in our head as we approach this difficult but rewarding task: “Let it Go.”
Jan Cullinane is an award-winning retirement author, speaker, and consultant. Her current book is The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley).