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Exploring Arkansas April 2007

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Lost Valley, Rock House & Bear Cave-Petit Jean Mountain, Jacksonport State Park
One of the gems of the Ozarks is in the Buffalo National River Region – Lost Valley – offering unique features found nowhere else.  The other popular trails at Petit Jean Mountain State Park are the ones that lead to a Native American rock shelter and the sandstone/crevice area to Bear Cave. The old riverport town of Jacksonport is explored near Newport, along with the last paddlewheeler to travel the White River – Mary Woods No.2. 

TRANSCRIPT

LOST VALLEY IN THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER REGION IS NEITHER LOST NOR A VALLEY. BUT IT IS MORE OF A RAVINE OR A GORGE, AND IT IS OUR FIRST STOP ON THIS WEEK'S SHOW. THEN WE WILL TAKE YOU TO A NATIVE AMERICAN BLUFF SHELTER AT THE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK. A BLUFF SHELTER THAT IS UNIQUE IN THE STATE WITH ALL.

PICTOGRAPHS INSIDE, AND THEE WE WILL WRAP IT UP UP AT JACKSON FORD STATE PARK, A ONE TIME THRIVING RIVER PORT ON THE BANKS OF THE WHITE RIVER. FOR NOW LET'S EXPLORE LOST VALLEY. ♪ LOST VALLEY IS ONE OF THOSE EXTRA SPECIAL PLACES IN ARKANSAS THAT THANK GOODNESS HAS BEEN PRESERVED FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. LOCATED ONE MILE SOUTH OF PONCA OFF HIGHWAY 43, LOST VALLEY IS PART OF THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER PARK SYSTEM AND IS FEDERALLY PROTECTED AND RIGHTFULLY SO. EVEN SO THE GARDEN OF EDEN WAS LOCATED -- IT COULD HAVE VERY WELL BEEN LOCATED HERE. THE BEST TIME TO VISIT LOST VALLEY IS DURING PERIODS OF HIGH WATER, BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN THE WATERFALL EXTRA VAGANZA IS TURNED ON. YOUR FIRST SPECTACLE ON THIS TWO MILE ROUND TRIP HIKE INTO PA PARADISE IS THIS WATERFALL.

THROUGHOUT THE AGES, THE STREAM HAS CUT THROUGH ABOUT 50 FEET OF LIMESTONE TO CREATE THIS IMPRESSIVE SIGHT. FARTHER UP THE TRAIL IT GETS EVEN BETTER AS YOU BECOME MORE AMAZED WITH THIS, A BLUFF SHELTER ONCE USED BY NATIVE AMERICANS BETWEEN ONE AND 2,000 YEARS AGO. IT IS CALLED COB CAVE, NAMED AFTER THE MANY CORN COBS WHICH WERE LATER UN-EARTHED HERE LEFT BY THE INDIANS. IT IS DIFFICULT TO PORTRAY THE SIZE THF SHELTER, 150 FEET DEEP, 50 FEET HIGH, 260 FEET FROM END TO END. ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE CONDUCTED REPEATED DIGS HERE SINCE 1931, AND IN THE LATE 1800'S, IT SERVED AS A SUNDAY MEETING PLACE WITH ALL-DAY SINGING. AFTER ALL, IT IS THE PERFECT BAND SHELL. CONTINUING UP THE TRAIL LIKE I MENTIONED, THE SIGHTS JUST GET BETTER AND BETTER. BEYOND COB CAVE IS WHAT YOU MIGHT SAY IS THE GRAND -- FINALE. A CASCADE OF WATERFALLS. PARADISE, GARDEN OF EDEN, WELL, INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH WHEN A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER VISITED THE AREA IN 1945 WITH THE STATE'S PUBLICITY DIRECTOR BUD GREEN, BEFORE LEAVING THE AREA, GREEN NAMED THE SERIES EDEN FALLS AND THE ENTIRE CANYON LOST VALLEY. ONCE AGAIN, THOUGH, THERE IS MORE. IF YOU CONTINUE FOLLOWING THE TRAIL UP FROM EDEN FALLS, YOU WILL COME TO EDEN FALLS CAVE. . IF YOU TAKE THIS HIKE AND YOU PLAN ON ENTERING EDEN FALLS CAVE, BY ALL MEANS TAKE WITH YOU AT LEAST TWO RELIABLE SOURCES OF LIGHT IN CASE ONE FAILS. THERE ARE TWO PASSAGEWAYS INTO THE CAVE F YOU GO STRAIGHT, YOU WILL ENCOUNTER A LOW CEILING AND YOU WILL HAVE TO KRALL FOR A WHILE ON YOUR HANDS AND KNEES. IF YOU BARE TO THE RIGHT, YOU CAN STAY UPRIGHT, BUT YOU HAVE TO SQUEEZE THROUGH TWO NARROW PASSAGEWAYS. I GUESS WE WILL TAKE THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS AND BEAR OFF TO THE RIGHT. ♪ IF YOU VENTURE 200 FEET OR SO INTO THE CAVE, YOU WILL BE REWARDED WITH AN UNDERGROUND WATERFALL. THE WONDERS NEVER CEASE IN LOST VALLEY. COME AND EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF. ♪ ♪

IT IS THE FLAG SHIP OF THE ARKANSAS STATE PARK SYSTEM, THE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK. CONSTRUCTION OF THE HIKING TRAILS BEGAN IN 1933 WITH A CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS, AND WITH THE HIKE DOWN TO CEDAR FALLS BEING THE MOST POPULAR. THERE ARE OTHER TRAILS HERE THAT ARE JUST AS AWESOME AND WE LIKE TO TAKE YOU ON A COUPLE OF THEM THAT ARE WELL WORTH THE HIKE. OUR FIRST TREK IS ON THE ROCK HOUSE CAVE TRAIL, WHICH LEADS TO A NATIVE AMERICAN ROCK SHELTER. JOINING US IS PARK INTERPRETER BT JONES.

THIS IS THE TUNNEL ROCK FORMATIONS THAT WE SEE DOWN HERE.

THAT'S RIGHT. ESPECIALLY ON THE LEFT UP HERE, I CALL IT A WHOLE HEARD OF TURTLES.

BT EXPLAINED TO US JUST EXACTLY HOW THESE ROCKS RESEMBLING HUGE TURTLE SHELLS FORMED.

THIS USED TO BE AN ANCIENT BEACH A LONG TIME AGO, AND AS WATER HAS ERODED AWAY OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS, IT HAS LEFT THESE PATTERNS IN THE STONE. THERE IS QUARTZ CONTENT IN THE SAND STONE, A FORMATION, THE QUARTZ CAUSES THE ROCK IN SOME PLACES TO BE HARDER THAN OTHERS, SO WHEN THE WATER FALLS, IT ERODES THE SOFTER PART OF THE SANDSTONE AWAY AND LEAVES THE HARDER PART AND IT LEAVES IT IN THE PATTERN OF A SQUARE IN A TURTLE SHELL.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE EASY TRAILS AND SHORT. ONLY A QUARTER OF A MILE DOWN THE PATH AND YOU'RE AT THE ROCK HOUSE.

YEAH, THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING.

TELL US THE INDENTATION IN THIS ROCK HERE. WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

THIS IS A GRINDING BOW, AND I THINK ARCHAEOLOGISTS AREN'T EXACTLY SURE HOW OLD IT IS, BUT IT HAS BEEN HERE FOR A LONG TIME. YOU CAN SEE THAT IT IS A PLACE WHERE NATIVE AMERICANS ONCE GROUND GRAIN, PERHAPS ACORNS, OR MAYBE CORN IF THEY WERE HERE LONG ENOUGH TO RAISE CROPS, AND AT THE VERY BOTTOM OF IT THERE IS ANOTHER INDENTATION, WHERE THEY CAN GRIND THINGS, SCOOP IT OUT, MAKE FLOUR, MAKE FOOD. ♪

WHAT IS SO INTERESTING AND UNIQUE ABOUT THIS NATIVE AMERICAN ROCK SHELTER IS THE NUMBER OF PICTOGRAPHS IT CONTAINS. 105, MORE THAN ANY OTHER SUCH SHELTER IN THE STATE, OFFERING A GLIMPSE IN ARKANSAS'S PREHISTORIC HERITAGE.

THESE NATIVE AMERICANS PREDATED THE TRIBES THAT EUROPE EVENS FOUND IN ARKANSAS WHEN THEY FIRST ARRIVED HERE. THEY WERE IN SOUTH EASTERN ARKANSAS, AN OLD TRIBE IN SOUTH WESTERN ARKANSAS, NORTHERN ARKANSAS, AND THESE NATIVE AMERICANS WERE HERE A LONG TIME BEFORE THAT, AND THEY WERE HUNTER GATHERERS, THEY MOVED AROUND. THEY PROBABLY USED THIS FOR SHELTER DURING COLD MONTHS LIKE WE ARE HAVING RIGHT NOW. WHENEVER I INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO THE ROCK HOUSE CAVE, I SHOW THEM A PICTURE OF A CATTLE FISH AND I HAVE THAT PICTURE RIGHT HERE. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS IS. THIS IS A FISH THAT LIVES IN THE ARKANSAS RIVER TODAY, BUT MAY HAVE LIVED IN BODIES OF WATER NEAR HERE BACK DURING THAT TIME. THEY CAUGHT THIS FISH IN A TRAP, MAYBE, AND TO SHOW PEOPLE HOW BIG THE FISH IS, I HAVE THIS PICTURE. AND THERE IS ANOTHER COLOR PICTURE HERE OF THE PADDLE FISH SWIMMING AROUND UNDER THE WATER USING ITS GILLS AS A RAKE FOR FOOD.

THESE PICTOGRAPHS DEPICT THAT.

YES. THERE IS A PICTOGRAPH IN THE BACK OF THE ROCK HOUSE CAVE OF A PADDLE FISH AND A TRAP BENEATH IT, WHAT ARCHAEOLOGISTS BELIEVE IS A TRAP. IT IS WHAT THE NATIVE AMERICANS MAY HAVE LOOKED LIKE THROUGH -- SOME DRAWING HERE, THIS IS AN ARTIST'S RENDITION. THERE ARE ARTIFACTS FOUND IN THE ROCK HOUSE CAVE AS FAR BACK AS THE PALEO INDIANS HERE. THAT'S PROBABLY AROUND 9,000 BC, AND MORE LIKELY THE INDIANS WHO DREW THE PICTOGRAPHS THAT WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT WERE FROM THE MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD, AND THAT IS A MERE 900 YEARS AGO.

A WAY ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND OUT WHAT THE IMAGES MEAN OR WHAT THE NATIVE AMERICANS -- WHAT THEY WERE THINKING OF WHEN THEY WERE DOING THIS AT THAT TIME.

SOME IMAGES LIKE THE PADDLE FISH ARE PRETTY CLEARLY ANIMALS, REPRESENTATIONS OF ANIMALS, OTHERS ARE ABSTRACTS, THEY COULD BE A SYMBOL, MOTIF WHICH THE EARLY TRIBES COULD HAVE KNOWN HERE AND THERE TOGETHER WHAT THEY MEANT, BUT TODAY THAT MEANING HAS BEEN LOST. A THOUSAND YEARS FROM NOW SOMEONE PROBABLY WON'T KNOW WHAT A SMOOTH CHECK ON A SIDE OF A TENNIS SHOE MEANS, AND WE ALL KNOW IT IS AN NIKE.

SOME OF THESE WERE ACTUALLY DRAWN AND SOME OF THESE WERE ACTUALLY PECKED INTO THE ROCK.

THE PICTOGRAPHS ARE THE ONES THAT ARE DRAWN, AND THE PAINT THEY USED WAS PROBABLY USED IF THE IRON DEPOSITS. YOU SEE ON THE WALLS HERE DARK VEINS, AND THAT IS IRON ORR, PROBABLY CRUSHED UP, MAYBE IN THE SAME PLACE THEY CRUSHED THEIR FOOD IN THE BOWEL, AL, AN MIXED WITH ANIMAL FAT, AND WHEN THE PAINT WAS CREATED, THEY PUT IT ON THE SANDSTONE, AND IT READILY ABSORBED THE PAINT AND IT IS STILL HERE TODAY. THE IRON IS PART OF THE SANDSTONE.

THAT'S WHY IT HAS BEEN ABLE TO LAST THAT LONG.

THAT'S RIGHT. IF THEY USED BERRY JUICE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, IT WOULD HAVE FADED OUT A LONG TIME AGO. OUR NEXT HIKING DESTINATION IS THE BEAR CAVE SANDSTONE CREVICE AREA, AND DOING THE HONORS WITH US ON THIS QUARTER OF A MILE HIKE IS PARK INTERPRETER MICHELLE HUNT.

THESE ARE GIANT SANDSTONE BOULDERS YOU CAN SEE ALL AROUND YOU AND THEY ARE PART OF THE HEART SHORN FORMATION, AND IT IS ABOUT 300 MILLION YEARS OLD, AND IF YOU LOOK THROUGH THE VALLEYS CREATED BY WATER OVER THESE MILLIONS OF YEARS, YOU CAN GET A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON THE GEOLOGY OF THE STATE PARK.

SO, THIS WAS ALL UNDER WATER.

YES, A LOT OF ARKANSAS WAS PART OF AN ANCIENT SEA, AND, OF COURSE, SANDSTONE IS A TYPE OF SEDIMENTARY ROCK AND IT IS KIND OF ON THE SOFT SIDE, SO IT DOES ERODE FAIRLY EASILY, AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE TOPS OF THE BOULDERS, YOU CAN SEE HOW THE STONE HAS ERODED A LITTLE BIT, ENOUGH TO CREATE A FINAL LAYER OF SOIL AND TREES CAN GROW ON THE TOPS OF THOSE BOULDERS. THERE ARE PINE TREES AND SOME OTHER ASSORTED SHRUBS GROWING, AND ALSO LIKEN GROWS ON THE SURFACE OF THESE ROCKS. THE FUNGI PROVIDE A HOME FOR THE ALGAE, AND THE ALGAE USE THE SUN'S ENERGY TO PRODUCE SUGARS.

THAT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE HAS SPRA SPRAY-PAINTED.

IT COMES IN UNIQUE COLORS. WHAT WE HAVE HERE IN THE IS ORANGE AND WE WILL SEE SOME OF THAT LATER. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. ♪

ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT AND STRIKING FEATURES ALONG THIS HIKE IS REFERRED TO AS THE "EYE OF THE NEEDLE."

AS YOU'RE WALKING THROUGH HERE, YOU MIGHT WANT TO LOOK UP AND YOU CAN SEE A UNIQUE FEATURE CALLED THE "EYE OF THE NEEDLE." . THAT'S BASICALLY WHERE THE TWO ROCK FACES ALMOST TOUCH. IF YOU LOOK UP THE IMMENSITY OF THE BOULDERS IS WHAT IS AMAZING. THEY'RE HUGE AND THEY MAKE AN INDIVIDUAL PERSON FEEL KIND OF SMALL.

I GUESS MAYBE THEY WERE AT ONE TIME CONNECTED.

YES, THEY WERE. THIS IS ANOTHER GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW WATER CAN ERODE ROCK OVER TIME.

YOU KNOW, I GUESS PEOPLE COME HERE AND MOST OF THEM WANT TO HIKE DOWN TO THE FALLS, BUT THEN THERE IS THIS PART OF THE PARK THAT IS JUST AWESOME.

YES. THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TRAILS IN THE PARK, AND IF YOU LOOK RIGHT IN HERE, THERE IS A LITTLE MINI CAVE. WE CAN POKE OUR HEADS IN HERE, IF YOU WOULD LIKE.

YEAH, IT SURE IS. THAT IS REALLY NEAT.

IT IS A LOT WARMER. YOU CAN SEE IT IS WET INSIDE.

A BEAR CAVE IS JUST A TAD FARTHER DOWN HERE.

YES, JUST A LITTLE BIT FURTHER. BEFORE WE REACH BEAR CAVE, HOWEVER, THERE IS THIS OTHER UNIQUE ROCK FORMATION, AND WHEN WE BRING SCHOOL KIDS HERE, THEY REALLY LOVE IT. WE CALL IT SKULL ROCK.

YEAH, I CAN SEE IT.

MICHELLE, I GUESS THAT WAS ALL CAVE NAMES, THERE IS A STORY OR A LEGEND THAT SUPPO SUPPOSABLY GOES ALONG WITH THIS ONE.

YES, THE LEDGE END OF BEAR CAVE. IF YOU LOOK UP HERE, YOU CAN SEE THE ACTUAL CAVE, TWO MEAN ONE DAY WERE OUT HUNTING, AND AS THE LEGEND GOES, THEY WERE WALKING AROUND THE BEAR CAVE AREA, AND THEY SAW AN AMERICAN BLACK BEAR, AND THEY WERE SO FRIGHTENED, THEY RAN TO THE EDGE OF THIS ROCK OUTCROP AND SCRAMBLED UP INTO THE CAVE IN ORDER TO GET AWAY FROM THE BEAR. AND THEN THEY REALIZED WHEN THEY WERE UP IN THE CAVE THAT THEY HAD GUNS AND, APPARENTLY, THAT'S HOW THE LEGEND GOES, THEY SHOT THE LAST BEAR ON THE MOUNTAIN. ♪

STEAM BOATS ARE WHAT MADE JACKSONPORT A THRIVING RIVER PORT ALONG THE WHITE RIVER DURING THE 1800'S, AND THE MARY WOOD REMAINS HERE AS A PROUD SYMBOL OF THAT ERA. THERE IS MUCH MORE HERE, CIVIL HISTORY AND THE WHITE RIVER ITSELF. LET'S EXPLORE JACKSONPORT STATE PARK. UPON BECOMING A THRIVING RIVER PORT, JACKSONPORT THEN BECAME THE COUNTY SEAT IN 1854. CONSTRUCTION OF THIS TWO-STORY BRICK COURTHOUSE BEGAN IN 1869. THE BRICKS WERE ACTUALLY MANUFACTURED IN JACKSONPORT. THE COURTHOUSE SERVED A TWO-FOLD PURPOSE. COURTROOM DRAMA COULD BE SEEN BY DAY, AND AT NIGHT THE COURTROOM BECAME A PLACE FOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS AS THE BENCHES WERE PUSHED BACK TO MAKE ROOM FOR DANCING AND CELEBRATION. WHEN BYPASSED BY THE NEW RA RAILROAD IN THE LATE -- THE SEAM BOAT RIVER TOWN BOOM WAS ALL ABOUT OVER. THE COURTHOUSE STOOD EMPTY FOR A WHILE THEN WAS USED AS A PUBLIC SCHOOL, A COTTON GIN, A GRANARY, AND IT SERVED AS JACKSON COUNTY'S POOR HOUSE AND THEN GIVING WAY TO WILD ANIMALS. IT WAS AN EMPTY SHELL UNTIL THE 1960'S. ♪

IT WAS THROUGH THE JACKSON HISTORIC SOCIETY THAT SAVED THE COURTHOUSE AND DID THE FIRST RESTORATION. AFTER THE RESTORATION, IT WAS TURNED INTO A STATE PARK. THAT WAS THE FIRST PART OF IT. WE HAVE THE MONUMENT WHICH YOU SEE BEHIND ME HERE, AND IT IS IN MEMORY OF THE FIRST REGIMENT, OR ACTUALLY THE FIRST COMPANY THAT LEFT JACKSONPORT FOR THE CIVIL WAR TO GO FIGHT IN THE CIVIL WAR, AND IN FRONT TF IS THE CIVIL WAR CANNON THAT WE HAVE HERE. WE ALSO HAVE THE STEAM BOAT, PADDLE BOAT, AND IT DID ORIGINALLY HAVE STEAM ENGINES ON IT. IT IS NOT A 19TH CENTURY STEAMBOAT, IT IS A 20TH CENTURY. THIS WAS BUILT IN THE 1930'S, THAT TELLS YOU THAT STEAM WAS BEING USED PRIMARILY ON THE RIVERS STILL AT THAT TIME. IT WAS A WORK BOAT. IT WAS USED HERE IN ARKANSAS TO PUSH BARGES OF LOGS FROM AREAS OF LOGGING DOWN TO THE SAW MILL. OTHER THAN TRYING TO TRUCK -- RATHER THAN TRYING TO TRUCK THEM, BECAUSE IF THEY TRUCK THEM, IT WAS A SEASONAL OPERATION, WHEREBY USING THE RIVER, THEY CAN GET INTO THE AREAS DURING HIGH WATER AS YOU SEE TODAY AND GET THE LOGS OUT TO THE SAW MILL TO MAKE IT AN EASIER OPERATION FOR LOGGING. THIS WAS A RIVER BOAT TOWN, AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE CIVIL WAR FOR THE STATE OF ARKANSAS IN TRYING TO CONTROL THE WHITE RIVER. SO, THIS TOWN WAS OCCUPIED BY FIVE DIFFERENT GENERALS AT ONE TIME. OVER THE PERIOD OF THE CIVIL WAR, STARTING WITH THE UNION ARMY COMING DOWN HERE IN 1862 OCCUPYING THE TOWN AND TRYING TO CONTROL THE RIVER. IF YOU CONTROL THE RIVERS IN ARKANSAS, YOU CONTROL THE STATE AND THAT IS WHAT THE UNION ARMY WAS TRYING DO HERE IN THE CIVIL WAR.

THERE IS ANOTHER SECTION OF JACKSONPORT STATE PARK THAT IS NOT TOO WELL KNOWN, THE UNDEVELOPED CYPRESS TREE AREA WHERE THE WHITE RIVER AND BLACK RIVER CONVERGE. ♪

IT IS PART OF THE PARK, THE UNDEVELOPED AREA, AND IT IS A REMNANT OF OF THE TYPES OF WOOD THAT YOU WOULD FIND THIS FAR DOWN ON THE RIVER IN THIS AREA. AND IT HAS THE CYPRESS TREES, EVERYTHING THAT YOU WOULD SEE IN A CYPRESS WOODED AREA. IT ALSO SHOWS THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF FOREST SUCCESSION, THE COTTON WOOD, CYPRESS, AS YOU CAN SEE, IT SUCCEEDS FROM ONE TYPE OF FOREST TO ANOTHER OVER THE YEARS.

IF YOU'RE LUCKY, YOU CAN SEE BLUE HERONS AND OTHER WILDLIFE.

IN THE SUMMER, IN THE UNDEVELOPED AREA, BECAUSE OF THE VISITORS THAT WE HAVE DOWN ON THE BEACH, THEY DON'T LIKE THE VISITORS SO THEY GO BACK TO THE UNDEVELOPED AREA IN THE SUMMERTIME. ♪ ♪ PAY A VISIT TO JACKSONPORT STATE PARK AND EXPERIENCE THE RIVER PORT AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY HERE. OR TAKE A HIKE AT PETIT JEAN -- FOR MORE INFO ON THESE AND OTHER DESTINATIONS, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AETN.ORG/"EXPLORING ARKANSAS." WE WILL SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS." ♪

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