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Exploring Arkansas March 2009

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Pea Ridge National Military Park, Lakeport Plantation, Beaver Lake Eagles
The Battle of Pea Ridge is viewed as the most decisive Civil War battle west of the Mississippi RiveRiver Pea Ridge National Military Park in northwest Arkansas is one of the most well preserved Civil War battlefields in the U.S. The Lakeport Plantation is the only remaining antebellum home along the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Beaver Lake near Rogers boasts of having the most bald eagles of any lake in the state.

TRANSCRIPT

NATIONAL MILITARY PARK NEAR THE TOWN OF PEA RIDGE IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, THE BATTLE THAT TOOK PLACE MARCH 7 AND 8 OF 1862 GAVE UNION FORCE IT IS CONTROL OF MISSOURI AND SET THE SCENE FOR THE REST OF THE CIVIL WAR. THAT'S WHERE WE BEGIN THIS WEEK'S SHOW. THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU ALL THE WAY DOWN TO SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE, THE LAKEPORT PLANTATIONT LAST REMAINING ANTEBELLUM HOME ALONG THE RIVER. THEN WE'RE GO TO THE PLACE WITH THE MOST NUMBER OF BALD EAGLES. LET'S BEGIN WITH PEA RIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK.

THE BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST DECISIVE BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. CONTROL OF THE MISSOURI WAS OBJECTIVE OF THE CONFED RAT FORCES THE FIRST YEAR OF THE WAR.

CON CONFEDERATES HAD MORE MED WHY DID THE BATTLE TURN OUT THE WAY IT DID?

THE CONFED RATS STARTED WITH 16,000 BY THE TIME THEY GOT HERE WAS 13,000, PEOPLE FALLING OUT ALONG THE WAY. IT'S COLD AND SNOW ON THE GROUND. WELL, EXACTLY THE SAME WAY IN 1862. A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE HUNGRY AND FELL ON THE WAY. BY THE TIME THEY GOT HERE, THEY ONLY HAD 13,000. THE UNION TROOPS WERE ALREADY HERE, THIS IS WHERE THEIR SUPPLY BASE WAS. THE CONFEDERATE TROOPS HAD BEEN MARCHING FOR SEVERAL DAYS BEFORE THEY GOT HERE, SNOW, COLD, EXHAUSTED, THEY WERE HUNGRY, THEIR ENERGY WAS ALL SAPPED. THEY WERE NO NO CONDITION TO FIGHT. AND SO THEIR GENERAL SAYS LET'S GO. THEY ATTACKED AND DID VERY WELL THE FIRST DAY, HERE ESPECIALLY. THEIR TROOPS CAME UP OUT OF THE HOLLOW AND CHARGED TO THE ELKHORN TAVERN AND THEY FOUND IT WAS FULL OF FOOD AND THEY STOPPED AND ATE. THEY WERE HUNDRED GRIVMENT  -- HUNGRY. THE COMMAND POSTS IN THE ARMY WAS OUT ON THE ROAD AND THEY WERE TAKING IT. THEY WERE SO HUNGRY THEY STOPPED AND ATE.

AND THIS WAS THE ONLY BATTLE, I GUESS, IN MILITARY HISTORY WHERE A GENERAL MADE A FACE ABOUT AND WAS SUCCESSFUL.

IT'S BEEN TRIED BEFORE BUT THIS WAS ONE WHERE IT WAS SUCCESSFUL. OF COURSE, THE TROOPS FOR THE MOST PART WERE THREE MILES FROM HERE. THIS WAS THE REAR OF THE UNION LINE HERE. IT WAS A SMALL DETACHMENT OF FORCES HERE GUARDING THE FOOD. THEY DIDN'T EXPECT THEM TO COME THIS WAY. SOME OF THE JUNIOR OFFICERS DID THINK SOMETHING MIGHT BE UP AND DROPPED A LOT OF TREES SLOWING DOWN VAN DOREN --

HE WAS THE GENERAL --

RIGHT. IT WAS SLOWED DOWN BY DROPPING TREES, DROPPING TREES ACROSS THE ROAD AND TROOPS HAVE TROUBLE GETTING THROUGH. SO THEY DROPPED LARGE TREES AND BY THE TIME THEY GOT UP TO HERE, THEY PUSHED THROUGH A UNION ARTILLERY BATTERY DOWN THE ROAD. CAME TO THIS BATTERY HERE, PUSHED THROUGH THIS BATTERY ALSO AND RAN INTO THE FOOD AND THINGS SLOWED DOWN A LITTLE BIT.

MOST OF THE BATTLE, MOST OF THE FIGHTING ALL TOOK PLACE HERE AT ELKHORN TAVERN?

A LOT. HERE AND DOWN ABOUT A HALF MILE DOWN THE -- UP THE ROAD TOWARDS MISSOURI, IN THE FIELD TO -- ABOUT A HALF MILE TO THE EAST OF US OVER IN  CLEMENTS FIELD. THE UNION ARMY RETREATED WHEN IT RAN OUT OF AMMUNITION AND MOVED BACK TO WHERE THEIR SUPPLIES WERE AND GOT ADMINISTER  AM -- MORE AMMUNITION. THE CONFEDERATE FORCES DIDN'T BRING EXTRA AMMUNITION.

THE ROAD THAT GOES BEHIND THE TAVERN HAS MANY NAMES, BUTTER FIELD OVERLAND STAGE ROAD, TELEGRAPH, SPRINGFIELD ST. LOUIS MISSOURI ALL THE WAY DOWN TO FORT SMITH.

THE LAND THROUGHOUT THE NORTHERN SECTION OF TRAIL OF TEARS, SO THIS WAS PRIMARILY A CHEROKEE ROUTE. THEY CAME FROM GEORGIA AND TENNESSEE WORKING THEIR WAY THROUGH TENNESSEE AND MISSOURI COMING BACK TO ARKANSAS AND COME RIGHT THROUGH HERE. THIS WAS THE LAST FOOD DEPOT FOR THEM. THEY HAD THE ELKHORN TAVERN AT THAT TIME AND THIS WAS THE LAST STOP WHERE THEY GOT THEIR RATIONS BEFORE THEY WENT OFF INTO INDIAN TERRITORY.

PEA RIDGE REPRESENTS WHAT MIGHT BE THE MOST WELL PRESERVED CIVIL WAR BATTLE FIELD IN THE UNITED STATES. TO GET A GOOD SCOPE OF THIS SIGHT TAKING THE SEVEN AND A HALF MILE AUTO TOUR WOULD BE WELL WORTH YOUR TIME. THE TEN STOPS ALONG THE WAY ARE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION RELATIVE TO BATTLE ACTION AND SIGNIFICANT FEATURES IN EACH AREA OF THE PARK. THE LOOKOUT POINT ATOP THE RIDGE IS ESPECIALLY A MUST STOP TO GET AN OVERALL PERSPECTIVE OF HOW LARGE AN AREA THE CONFEDERATES AND UNION FORCES TRAVERSED AND FOUGHT DURING THE TWO-DAY BATTLE. TAKING THE HIKING TRAIL WHICH VEERS OFF FROM THE LOOKOUT POINT LEADS TO THE MORE NATURAL AREAS OF THE PARK AND INTO THE BACK COUNTRY WHERE MANY TROOPS MADE THEIR WAY TOWARDS ELKHORN TAVERN. PEA RIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK IS ALSO THE IDEAL PLACE FOR SCHOOL KIDS TO LEARN FIRST HAND ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR.

THE STRAPPING FALLS OFF AND IT WAS -- THIS SOLID SHOT WILL TRAVEL 1600 YARDS BEFORE IT HITS THE GROUND. THIS IS SOLID SHOT. WHY WOULD YOU DO A SOLID SHOT?

IT HAD A LOT OF STUFF ON IT?

NO. IT'S GOOD FOR BREAKING THINGS. IT BREAKS A WHEEL. FIRE. [GUNSHOT]. CEASE FIRE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?

LOUD.

LOUD, YES. VERY LOUD. IT WOULD BE A LOT LOUDER HAD IT BEEN A REAL GUN. A REAL GUN WOULD HAVE HAD TWICE AS MUCH -- WE FIRED 10 OUNCES OF BLACK POWDER. A REAL FIRE WOULD HAVE HAD 20-OUNCE IT IS GUN WOULD ROLL BACK AND SOMEWHERE AROUND THE TREES WE WOULD HAVE HAVE SEEN THE CANNON BALL HIT.

FIRE,.

FIRE! FIRE! [GUN SHOTS].

IT'S MORE FUN TO LEARN.

YEAH.

WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HEAR THAN JUST LOOKING IN A BOOK. AND IT'S FUN TO HEAR THE CANNONS GO OFF.

FIRE!

IT'S MORE COOLER IN PERSON THAN IN TEXTBOOK WITH JUST PICTURES. BECAUSE YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE THEM GO OFF.

FIRE! [CANNON SHOT].

WHAT WAS ACTUALLY THE LARGEST CONFAD RAT TROOPS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI TURNED OUT TO BE A UNION VICTORY INSTEAD. TODAY ELKHORN TAVERN STANDS AS THE MEMORIAL IN WHAT WAS A TURNING POINT IN THE CIVIL WORLD AND THE MISSISSIPPI WEST HERE AT PEA RIDGE. ♪

IT'S CONSIDERED AS ONE OF ARKANSAS' FOREMOST HISTORIC HOME SITES. THE LAKEPORT PLANTATION  IN THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE. IT'S THE LAST REMAINING ANTEBELLUM BLUM  HOUSE THAT HASN'T BEEN EXTENSIVELY ALTERED. OWNED BY ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, THIS PLANTATION HOME HAS BEEN RESTORED AS A MUSEUM FOCUSING  ON THE TRANSITION FROM SLAVERY TO TENANT FARMING. .

LAKEPORT MARKS THE SPOT OF A SPEEM BOAT LANDING FROM -- STEAM BOAT LANDING OF WHICH THOUSANDS OF BAILS OF COTTON WERE SHIPPED TO NEW ORLEANS. IN THE EARLY 1800S, THE BANKS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER ON THE ARKANSAS SIDE AND ON THE MISSISSIPPI SIDE WERE LINED WITH PLANTATIONS. MANY OF THE LAND OWNERS ON BOTH SIDES WERE FROM KENTUCKY, AND NEARLY ALL WERE RELATED TO EACH OTHER. THE LAKEPORT PLANTATION HOUSE WAS BUILT IN 1859 FOR LYCURGUS AND LYDIA JOHNSON, PART OF A POLITICAL DIE NASTY THAT EXTENDED FROM KENTUCKY TO ARKANSAS.

WE THINK IT'S A REAL GEM FOR ARKANSAS HISTORY. THERE'S AN ANTEBELLUM HOME THAT'S STILL IN THE MIDST OF THE RIVER AND PLANTERS WEST AND SAILING ALONG THE RIVER. THERE'S REALLY NOTHING ELSE LIKE IT IN ARKANSAS. THERE ARE OTHER HOMES SIMILAR TO THIS NEARBY, BUT THEY'VE BEEN BURNED OR FELL IN DISREPAIR OR THEY'RE JUST GONE NOW. SO IT'S COMPLETELY UNIQUE IN ARKANSAS.

AND IT FACE IT IS RIVER WHICH WAS THE NORM BACK IN THE DAYS?

RIGHT. IT FACE IT IS RIVER BUT NOW FACE IT IS LE VEE, BUT THAT'S THE WAY PEOPLE GOT TO THE HOUSE. THEY TOOK BOATS UP AND DOWN THE RIVER AND COMING FROM PLACES LIKE KENTUCKY OR INDIANA OR GET OFF AT LAKEPORT AND COME FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WHERE THEY HAD RELATIVES.

IN 1927 THE LAKEPORT PLANTATION WAS SOLD TO THE SAM EPSTEIN FAMILY. SINCE 1972, THE HOUSE REMAINS VACANT AND IS BEING REMODELED OR REDECORATED AND BEING EXTENSIVELY MODERNIZED AND THUS REMAINED VIRTUALLY UNCHANGED SINCE THE DAY IT WAS BUILT. IT WAS DONATED TO ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY IN 2001 BY THE EPSTEIN ANGEL FAMILY AS A LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THE PURPOSE OF THE LAKEPORT PLANTATION MUSEUM IS TO RESEARCH AND INTERPRET THE PEOPLE AND CULTURES THAT SHAPED PLANTATION LIFE THROUGHOUT THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA, FOCUSING  ON THE ANTEBELLUM, CIVIL WAR RECONSTRUCTION PERIODS.

WE WANT TO PORTRAY FOUR THINGS. THE HISTORY OF THE JOHNSON FAMILY AND THEIR WESTERN MIGRATION AND THE WESTERN MIGRATION OF THE COTTON ECONOMY WITH THAT. THE JOHNSON FAMILY AND THEIR POLITICS. THEY WERE IMPORTANT IN KENTUCKY AND ARKANSAS. WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE HOME, THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF THE HOME. THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE, ALSO, SINCE SLAVE LABOR BUILT THIS HOUSE AND THE TENANT FARMERS AND SHARE CROPPERS WHO WORKED THIS LAND AND THE PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES THAT WENT INTO PRESERVING THE HOUSE.

RESTORATION OF THE LAKEPORT PLANTATION WAS COMPLETED IN 2007 AS AN OFFICIAL PROJECT OF SAVE AMERICA'S TREASURE PROGRAM THROUGH THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AND NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION. WITH THE HOUSE AS A PRIMARY ARTIFACT, IT PROVIDES A UNIQUE SOURCE FOR LEARNING OF HISTORIC CRAFT MANSHIP AND TECHNIQUES. THE PHILOSOPHY WAS NOT TO RECREATE JUST ANOTHER PRETTY HOUSE BUT ONCE AGAIN, TO FOCUS THE ATTENTION ON THE LIFESTYLES AND RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED AND WORKED AT LAKEPORT. AS SLAVES AND MASTERS, AS TENANT FARMERS AND LAND OWNERS AND A PIVOTAL ROLE OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE REGION AND SHAPING THE CULTURE AS IT EXISTS TODAY. PAY A VISIT AND EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF WHAT HAS BEEN REMARKABLY PRESERVED HERE AT LAKEPORT. ♪

BEAVER LAKE IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, QUITE THE POPULAR FISHING LAKE. IN THE WINTERTIME, QUITE THE POPULAR LAKE WITH EAGLES. JUST THE OTHER DAY 150 SOME WERE SPOTTED HERE, MORE THAN ANY OTHER LAKE IN THE STATE. SO WE DECIDED TO VENTURE OUT AND SEE HOW MANY WE COULD SPOT. 28,370-ACRE BEAVER IS SITUATED BETWEVER LAKE IS SITUATED BETWEEN ROGERS AND YEERK SPRINGS. - EUREKA SPRINGS. MOTORING US OUT ON TO THE LAKE AND ACTING AS OUR EAGLE GUIDE ON THIS OUTING IS ALAND BLAND WITH THE U.S. ARMY  CORPS WHICH COMPLETED THIS LAKE IN 1956. WITH ALMOST 500-MILE OF SHORE LINE, THE RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ON THE LAKE ARE ENDLESS AND DURING THE WINTERTIME THE NUMBERS OF BALD EAGLES ARE QUITE IMPRESSIVE.

IT IS INCREDIBLE. I LOVE THIS LAKE, BORN AND RAISED IN THIS AREA. MY PARENTS HAVE -- HAD A PLACE ON THE LAKE, AND I MEAN, I CAN REMEMBER WHEN IT WAS THE WHITE RIVER BEFORE AND YOU PLAYED IN THE RIVER. I REMEMBER WHEN THE LAKE WAS COMING UP AND DIDN'T UPS IT AS A KID -- DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT AS A KID, BUT I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT FROM DAY ONE. IT'S AN AWESOME LAKE FOR HUNTING, FISHING, BOATING, SKIING. IN THE WINTERTIMEEN OU HAVE IT O YOURSELF IF YOU WANT TO COME ENJOY THE LAKE. I CAN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT WHY WE HAVE SO MANY EAGLES. IT'S A BIG LAKE, THE WATER'S CLEAR. I DONENJ KNOW IF THAT'S FOR BETTER FISHING, OUR HILLS ARE SO HIGH THEY GET PROTECTION, BUT IT'S JUST INCREDIBLE. THEY START COMING IN ABOUT OCTOBER, YOU START SEEING THEM FILTER IN. JANUARY AND FEBRUARY I WOULD SAY ARE THE PEEK MONTHS IF YOU WANT TO SEE A LOT OF EAGLES. USUALLY BY EARLY TO MIDAKEARCH,A LOT OF THEM ARE HEADING BACK NORTH. WE HAVE THE NESTING ON THE LAKE YOU CAN SEE YEAR-ROUND, BUT PEOPLE DON'T BOTHER THEM, HARASS THEM. THEY'RE USED TO THEM AND PEOPLE LOOK FORWARD TO THEM. WE'RE BLESSED TO HAVE NOT ONLY THIS LAKE, BUT ALL THESE BALD EAGLES.

EAGLE CONCENTRATIONS ON THE LAKE, OF COURSE, VARY FROM DAY TO DAY.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME AREAS OF THE LAKE -- ON THE LAKE WE CAN GO OWN KNO'S EAGLES ANTICIPATE  -- AND SOME AREAS, WE DONENJ KNOW WHY, NOT THEIR THING TO BE AT. WE COUNTED THIS YEAR, IN ONE DAY, WE COUNTED 158 EAGLES IN ONE DAY ON THE LAKE. THAT'S ABOUT AVERAGE, 150, 170. DEPENDS ON THE DAY. IF I CLS A BLUE BIRD DAY, PRETTY, NICE, WE'RE NOT COUNTING AS MANY BIRDS BECAUSE THEY'RE HUNTING, SOARING AND HAVE REAL VISIT WLITY. ON A NASTY DAY THEY DON'T WANT TO GET OUT THA CLS THE TIME TO SEE THE EAGLES. THEY'RE SITTING IN THE TREES AND LOOKING FOR AN EASY MEAL. THE COLD WEATHER DOESNENJ BOTHER THEM AT ALL. 80% OF THE POPULATION OF EAGLES, BALD EAGLES IN AMERICA IS IN ALASKA. SO YOU KNOW HOW COLD IT GETS THERE. A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THE'T LL FREEZE TO DEATH AND GET IN TROUBLE, BUT THEY DO FINE. THERE'S AMPLE FOOD HERE AND WE HAVE A TRENE N POPULATION. -- TREMENDOUS POPULATION.

THERE IS ONE AREA ON THE LAKE, THOUGH, THAT YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH BET YOU'LL FIND BALD EAGLES JUST ABOUT EVERY TIMEEN U VENTURE OUT, AND THAT'S THE AREA WHERE ALLAN TOOK US. IT HAPPENS TO BE THE NORTHERN MOST COVE JUST OFF THE NORTH RECREATION AREA, BEING ONLY ABOUT THREE AND A HALF MILES FROM THE MISSOURI STATE LINE. WHEN THE BODIES OF WATER FREEZE UP NORTH OF HERE, THIS IS THE FIRST AREA EAGLES SET THEIR EYE ON.

WHEN THE WEATHER GETS REALLY BAD AND ALL THE PONE N FRENE. AND IT'S REALLY BAD UP NORTH LIKE IT IS NOW, WE GET MORE EAGLES. THEY PROBABLY WOULDN'T COME DOWN HERE IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO, BUT EVERYTHING UP NORTH FRENE. ALL THE DUCKS COME SOUTH AND THEY COME SOUTH BECAUSE WE HAVE WATER THAT IS DONENJ FRENE. PLENTY OF HUNTING OPPORTUNITY. IT'S GOOD. IT'S FORTUNATE THEY GET TO COME DOWN. SOME YEARS WE MIGHT HAVE 90 TO 130, IT REALLY VARIES. WE'VE BEEN DOING THE COUNT SINCE 1980. IN 1980 I THINK WE COUNTED 26. THE MICH DAY ON THE LAKE WAS 289. SO IT VARIES FROM DAY TO DAY, BUT I WOULD SAY BETWEEN 150 AND 250 IS WHAT WE HAVE ON THE LAKE AT ANY GIVEN DAY. ♪

BEAVER LAKE, ARKANSAS' BALD EAGLE MECCA. THE ONLY DRAW BACK, YOU'VE GOT TO COME HERE ON THE CD WINDIEST DAYS, BUT THE CD WORTH IT. ♪

SO HEAD ON OUT TO BEAVER LAKE AND CHECK OUT THE EAGLE EX EX-- EAGLES HERE. TO ORDER A COPY OF AN EPISODE, EATN.ORG, AND WE'RE SEEEN OU NET TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE OF EXPLORING ARKANSAS.

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