Caves and hot springs are some of the more unique geographic features of Arkansas. But inside the Earth’s crust geographic anomalies are notable as well, especially the prospecting for diamonds, an unusual gemstone for North America.
Murfreesboro maintains a diamond mine that now serves as a popular tourist attraction. Oil and bromine have also been unique resources. Petroleum was discovered in what was called Smackover Field in 1925, when a frenzied horde of oil barons spent half a year churning up the area, squeezing as much “black gold” as they could from the small patch of land.
Since then the oil rich region has also become a viable—and one of the largest—sources for bromine, a derivative of saltwater brine. Stuttgart soil is yet another geologic anomaly. The very dense and clay-like soil is only found in a small area of east-central Arkansas. The soil is apparently a perfect environment for rice production, a large part of the State’s agricultural output.
Arkansas most recently entered the mainstream U.S. consciousness when former President Bill Clinton was elected into office after he had been the Governor of Arkansas. Another well-known figure, poet Maya Angelou, spent the majority of her childhood growing up in Stamps, Arkansas and she read a poem for the occasion of President Clinton’s inauguration.
One of the nation’s largest retail chains sprang from Arkansas. Businessman Sam Walton founded the first Wal-Mart in Arkansas in 1962. Since then the giant corporation has gone on to spawn a number of other like businesses, such as Sam’s Club, and exists in nearly every community in the U.S.
Cited for its natural beauty, Arkansas was that last vestige of hope for the nearly extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. In fact, for a number of years, biologists actually dismissed the bird. But in 2004, unsubstantiated sightings of a male in the species sent ornithologists combing the Arkansas wilderness. They ultimately found proof that a small number of the birds were still in existence.