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Exploring Arkansas's National Parks

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Host Chuck Dovish takes a special look at Arkansas's six national parks in this one hour presentation From Hot Springs, which was actually the first federal reservation set aside in 1832 to protect a natural resource… to America's first national river  the Buffalo National RiveRiver. to Pea Ridge National Military Park… to Arkansas Post National Memorial… to Fort Smith and Central High National Historic Sites-you don't have to go far to experience your America in the Natural State.

TRANSCRIPT

HOT SPRINGS, TWO WORDS WITH CENTURIES OF MEANING. THESE ARE THE SPRINGS, AND YES, THEY ARE HOT. 143 DEGREES HOT, AND 4,000 YEARS IN THE MAKING. BUT WE'LL GET INTO THAT LATER. THIS REGION WAS ACTUALLY THE FIRST FEDERALLY PROTECTED AREA IN 1832. 40 YEARS PRIOR TO YELLOWSTONE. SO LET'S BEGIN OUR EXPLORATION IN THE VALLEY OF VAPORS AND THE AMERICAN SPA. HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK. BEFORE HOT SPRINGS, THE CITY THAT IS OF HOT SPRINGS EXISTED, THIS ENTIRE AREA WAS VASTLY DIFFERENT. IF YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE 47 OR SO OPEN HOT SPRINGS AND ALL THE STEAM EMITTING FROM THEM, IT'S NO WONDER WHY THIS UNIQUE VALLEY WAS CALLED THE VALLEY OF VAPORS. IF THERE EVER WAS A FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, THIS HAD TO BE IT. IT'S ALSO NO WONDER WHY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN 1832 TOOK AN UNPRECEDENTED STEP SETTING ASIDE THIS AREA AS THE FIRST U.S. RESERVATION CREATED SOLELY TO PROTECT A NATURAL RESOURCE. THE OLDEST ARCHAEOLOGIST EVIDENCE CONSIDERED RELIABLE BY RESEARCHERS AS FAR AS AMERICAN INDIANS USING THE HOT SPRINGS DATES BACK TO 1771. BUT NATIVE AMERICANS DID OCCUPY THE LAND INCLUDED WITHIN THE PARK BOUNDARIES ALL THE WAY BACK TO 3,000 YEARS AGO. THEY QUARRIED NOVACULITE AS RAW MATERIAL FOR STONE TOOLS. WATER IS STILL THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF WHY VISITORS COME TO HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK. AND BE AS IT MAY, THERE IS STILL THE BELIEF THAT THE TRACES OF MINERALS AT AN AVERAGE TEMPERATURE OF 143 DEGREES GIVES THESE WATERS WHATEVER THERAPEUTIC PROPERTIES THEY MAY HAVE. BUT THE HOT SPRINGS DID NOT BECOME HOT OVERNIGHT. JOSIE, IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE FOR US THAT THAT THIS WATER IS WHAT, 4,000 YEARS OLD.

THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT. BASICALLY, WHAT THE SCIENTISTS TELL US IS THAT IT TAKES ABOUT 4,000 YEARS GIVE OR TAKE A COUPLE CENTURIES FOR THE WATER TO COME DOWN AND PERCOLATE IN THE EARTH, GO TO DEPTHS OF ABOUT TEN MILES AND THEN SLOWLY BUT SURELY COME UP TO THE CRACKS IN THE EARTH. AS IT COMES UP, IT HEATS UP. SO BY THE TIME IT GETS TO THE SURFACE IN THE GENERAL AREA, WE GET THE WATER THAT SON AVERAGE 143 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT AND GOOD FOR BATHING AN FOR DRINKING.

BATH HOUSE ROW DID NOT ALWAYS LOOK LIKE IT DOES TODAY. IN FACT, THERE HAVE BEEN ABOUT FOUR GENERATIONS OF BATH HOUSES. THE FIRST WERE CRUDE WOODEN SHACK-LIKE STRUCTURES WHICH FREQUENTLY BURNED OR ROTTED DUE TO THE CONTINUED EXPOSURE TO WATER AND STEAM. BY 1921, WHEN THE HOT SPRINGS RESERVATION FINALLY BECAME THE 18th NATIONAL PARK, MONUMENTAL BATH HOUSES WERE BUILT TO CATER TO THE CROWDS OF HEALTH SEEKERS WHO FLOCKED TO THE AMERICAN SPA AT MORE THAN A MILLION A YEAR. THE NEW ESTABLISHMENTS SPARED NO EXPENSE TO MAKE SURE BATHERS WOULD BE PAMPERED AMIDST ARTFUL SURROUNDINGS. IT WAS THE GOLDEN AGE OF BATHING. AS MODERN MEDICINE BEGAN CURING WHAT THE HOT SPRINGS COULD NOT, THE BATHING BUSINESS STARTED DECLINING DURING THE 1950's. THE BATH HOUSES EVENTUALLY CLOSED THEIR DOORS AND FELL INTO DISREPAIR. DURING THE 1980's, LOCAL CITIZENS AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE BEGAN SEARCHING FOR WAYS TO BRING BACK THE BATH HOUSES TO THEIR ORIGINAL SPLENDOR AND PURPOSE. FINALLY IN 2004, THE PARK RECEIVED THE FIRST OF SEVERAL APPROPRIATIONS TO REHABILITATE THE VACANT BATH HOUSES AND MAKE THEM LEASABLE. TODAY, THEY ARE AVAILABLE FOR LEASE UNDER THE HISTORIC PROPERTY LEASING PROGRAM. SUPERINTENDENT JOSIE FERNANDEZ REFERS TO IT AS THE RENAISSANCE OF BATH HOUSE ROW.

I LIKE TO CALL IT THAT WAY BECAUSE FOR MANY, MANY YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR II, THE BATHING INDUSTRY STARTED TO GO INTO DECLINE, IF YOU WILL. PEOPLE COULD STAY HOME, POP A PILL FOR MEDICINE OR GET AN X-RAY OR SUCH AND PEOPLE STOPPED COMING IN THE NUMBERS, BUT THEY USED TO COME TO HOT SPRINGS. HOWEVER, NOW PEOPLE KNOW THAT CLEANLINESS AND GOOD EATING HABITS AND EXERCISING IS GOOD FOR YOU. AND WE'RE VERY FORTUNATE THAT THESE BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS ARE BEGINNING TO BE RESTORED AND REOCCUPIED BY BUSINESSES THAT BELIEVE IN THAT PHILOSOPHY. SO, FOR EXAMPLE, LAST SUMMER, THE BATH HOUSE OPENED AND NOW IT'S OFFERING MODERN-DAY ACTIVITIES IN A HISTORIC SETTING, BUT WITH A MODERN FLAVOR AND PEOPLE CAN ONCE AGAIN TAKE A BATH AND ENJOY THEMSELVES. OF COURSE, WE HAVE THE BUCKSTAFF BATH HOUSE THAT OFFERS THE TRADITIONAL BATHING EXPERIENCE THAT PEOPLE USED TO ENJOY.

AFTER YOU REVITALIZE YOURSELF WITH A BATH OR MAYBE A MASSAGE, YOU MAY WANT TO TRY OUT A PORTION OF THE 26 MILES OF HIKING TRAILS THAT ARE WITHIN THE PARK.

THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT DEGREES OF DIFFICULTY. AND SOME OF THE TRAILS THEMSELVES WERE DESIGNED BY A MEDICAL DOCTOR FROM GERMANY. I BELIEVE IT WAS GERMANY. DR. ORTELL WHO DESIGNED THE TRAILS TO BE EASILY ACCESSIBLE FOR THE INFIRM THAT USED TO COME TO HOT SPRINGS TO TAKE THE BATH. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE HOT SPRINGS RESERVATION AND HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, THAT WAS WHAT WAS PRESCRIBED BY MEDICAL DOCTORS. IF YOU CAME WITH A LIVER AILMENT OR SOME SUCH THING, YOU WOULD LIKELY BE PRESCRIBED A NUMBER OF BATHS AND A NUMBER OR COLOR TRAIL. THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE USED TO BELIEVE, THAT TAKING THE BATH AND DOING EXERCISE HERE COULD POTENTIALLY CURE YOU OF WHATEVER AILED YOU. SO -- BUT THE TRAILS ARE STILL AVAILABLE. WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO ENJOY THEM. THEY'RE THERE FOR THEM, AND WALKING IS GOOD EXERCISE FOR EVERYONE.

SUCH AS ON THE LONG PROMENADE HERE.

SUCH AS ALONG THE LONG PROMENADE AND BATH HOUSE ROW. IN FACT, GENERALLY, DURING LUNCH TIME YOU SEE A LOT OF THE LOCALS WALKING ONE SIDE AND MAKING THE LOOP AND GOING THE OTHER WAY AND THEN GOING BACK TO WORK.

THE TRAIL THAT WE TOOK THIS PARTICULAR DAY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. THE GOAT ROCK TRAIL WHICH STARTS OFF FROM THE OVERLOOK ON NORTH MOUNTAIN. BACK TRACK DOWN THE ROAD A BIT, TO WHERE THE TRAIL HEAD SIGN IS LOCATED. FROM THERE, IT'S AN EASY HIKE WHICH WILL TAKE YOU DOWN THE OVERLOOK. THE TRAIL WILL OPEN UP INTO FLOWERY GLADES OFFERING SOME PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES. FOLLOWING A COUPLE OF SWITCH BACKS, THE TRAIL DOES BECOME A LITTLE UNEVEN AND ROCKY. AFTER ABOUT SEVERAL HUNDRED FEET, YOU'LL PASS BENEATH HUGE NOVACULITE BOLDERS. HERE, BOAT ROCK ITSELF IS 40 FEET ABOVE YOU. A ROCK STAIRWAY WILL TAKE YOU TO THE OVERLOOK ATOP GOAT ROCK. THE SIGHTS HERE OFFER SPECTACULAR VIEWS OF INDIAN MOUNTAIN AND YOU PROBABLY WILL WANT TO SPEND SOME TIME TO TAKE IT ALL IN. BEFORE LEAVING THE PARK, BE SURE TO STOP BY THE RANGER STATION AND CHECK OUT HELEN STANDARD'S PAINTING OF GOAT ROCK OVERLOOK. THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER, AMERICA'S FIRST NATIONAL RIVER AND ARKANSAS, THE NATURAL STATE, CAN RIGHTFULLY LAY CLAIM TO IT. ITS BEAUTY IS UNSURPASSED. YOU SEE, THIS RIVER REMAINS THE SAME AS EARLY EXPLORERS FIRST SAW IT SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS AGO. COME ALONG WITH US AND WE'LL SHOW YOU WHY THE BUFFALO IS FIRST AND FOREMOST AMERICA'S RIVER. THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER IS 135 MILES OF PRISTINE, PROTECTED PARADISE. DEI I -- DESIGNATED BY CONGRESS AS AMERICA'S FIRST NATIONAL RIVER, IT IS ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING, PURE FREE-FLOWING STREAMS WHICH HAS NOT BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY ALTERED BY INDUSTRY OR MAN IN THE LOWER 48 STATES. MANY PEOPLE PLAYED A ROLE IN SAVING THIS RIVER. IN THE BEGINNING THE LATE DR. NEIL COMPTON PRACTICALLY LED A ONE-MAN CRUSADE TO KEEP IT FROM BEING DAMMED UP. AND FINALLY, JOHN PAUL HAMMERSCHMIDT INTRODUCED LEGISLATION AND THE FREE-FLOWING STREAM.

I HAD TO TRY AFTER I DECIDED THAT I WANTED TO LEAVE THE BUFFALO STREAM, THEN I HAD TO DEVELOP A POLITICAL BASE FOR THAT. IT WAS STRONGER THAN THE OPPONENTS FOR THAT IDEA. I THINK IT'S BEEN GREAT THING AND EVEN TODAY, PEOPLE THAT WERE STRONGLY OPPOSED TO IT, THEY HAVE BEEN RELOCATED, RE-ESTABLISHED THEIR LIVES. I THINK THEY TOO THINK IT WAS PROBABLY A GOOD THING. WE'RE BLESSED TO HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS. IT'S A BIG PART OF MY LIFE, SINCE I WAS A LITTLE KID. I FISHED ON IT AND LEARNED HOW TO CANOE ON IT AND LEARNED ALL THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF, YOU KNOW, HIKING AND NATURE, THE WILDLIFE AND I WAS PRETTY FORTUNATE I WAS A BOY SCOUT GROWING UP. SO I SPENT A LOT OF TIME AROUND THE UPPER PART OF THE RIVER. WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE SECTION HERE. I HAVE JUST BEEN FORTUNATE TO BE HERE AS LONG AS I HAVE. REALLY YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LIVE WITHOUT IT, SO IT'S HARD FOR ME TO GET A REALLY -- TELL YOU MUCH OF AN OPINION BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER HAD TO LIVE WITHOUT THIS. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED, I WOULD SAY THAT.

TO REALLY EXPERIENCE THIS RIVER, YOU'VE GOT TO FLOAT IT. EITHER BY JOHNBOAT, CANOE, KAYAK, RAFT OR WHATEVER. JUST FLOAT IT. BECAUSE ONLY THEN WILL YOU TRULY BECOME A PART OF IT. THIS PARTICULAR DAY UP ON THE RECOMMENDATION OF OUR OUTFITTER, WE OPTED TO GET AROUND IN A JOHNBOAT TO COVER MORE SCENIC MILES IN A SHORTER PERIOD OF TIME.

THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT, IF YOU WANT TO SIGHT SEE AND CHECK EVERYTHING OUT, JUST TO GET IN THE BOAT AND RUN UPSTREAM WHEN THE RIVER IS GOOD. BY CANOE, I THINK FROM MOUNT MERCY, IT'S NINE MILES. IT'S FAIR DAY, A LONG SHUTTLE IS WHAT THE BIGGEST PART IS. IT TAKES A WHILE TO GET FROM ONE ACCESS AREA TO NEXT BECAUSE THEY'RE SO REMOTE. BUT THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO PRETTY, IT'S THE MOST REMOTE PART OF ARKANSAS.

AND IF TIME REALLY ISN'T OF ANY GREAT CONCERN, YOU CAN DO THE FULL BLOWN RIVER JOURNEY OF TEN DAYS OR MORE.

WE DO GET A FEW AVID ADVENTURERS THAT LIKE TO GO AND DO THE WHOLE RIVER. WE GET A FEW A YEAR, BUT WE DON'T HAVE AS MANY AS WE USED TO GET. IT SEEMS LIKE MOST PEOPLE ARE DAY FLOATERS AND HIKERS. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO COME UP TO HIKE AND KAYAKING HAS GOTTEN REAL POPULAR TOO AN THE BUFFALO. IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE CAN COVER A LOT MORE MILEAGE IN THE KAYAK THAN IN A CANOE. SO PEOPLE ARE MORE INTERESTED IN TRYING TO SEE -- SEE AS MUCH OF THE RIVER AS THEY CAN IN ONE POINT OF TIME. SO THEY LIKE TO GET IN THE KAYAKS AND TAKE A LONGER STROLL AND REALLY ENJOY THE SERENITY BECAUSE YOU CAN GET AWAY FROM THE CROWD IN A KAYAK THAT YOU CAN DO AT SUCH LONGER STRETCHES. IT FEELS LIKE THE RIVER IS ALMOST TO YOURSELF.

WHATEVER YOU DECIDE ON, IT'S A WISE CHOICE TO GET WITH ONE OF THE RIVER OUTFITTERS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ON THE RIVER BEFORE. MANY OF THEM GREW UP ON THIS RIVER LIKE BEN MILBURN AND KNOW IT LIKE THE BACK OF THEIR HAND.

I GET ASKED A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT WHICH PART OF THE RIVER IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SECTION OF THE RIVER. I HAVE TO TELL EVERYBODY THERE'S NOT ONE SECTION ANY PRETTIER THAN THE REST. IT'S TOUGH TO SAY WHAT'S BETTER THAN THE NEXT BECAUSE IT'S ALL PRETTY GOOD. I HAVE HAD GUYS FROM LOUISIANA COME UP AND THEY'RE USED TO MUDDY RIVERS AND THEY THINK THE RIVER IS A LOT SHALLOWER THAN IT IS THEY THINK IT'S ANKLE DEEP AND THEY GO FOR A SWIM, WHICH IS PRETTY AMUSING WHEN YOU SEE SOMEBODY DO THAT. BUT EVERYBODY HAS ABOUT THE SAME RESPONSE, THAT THEY'RE AMAZED AT HOW PRETTY THE RIVER IS AND THEY WANT TO COME BACK AN SEE MORE OF IT. BECAUSE YOU CAN'T EVER GET ENOUGH OF IT. I HAVE LIVED HERE MY ENTIRE LIFE AND I HAVEN'T GOTTEN ENOUGH OF IT.

BUT THE RIVER IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF WHAT THE ENTIRE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER AREA IS ALL ABOUT. THIS RIVER HAS PROVIDED FOR THE LIVELIHOOD OF MANY PREVIOUS GENERATIONS. AND THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN APPRECIATE THAT ASPECT IS TO VISIT ONE OF THE RESTORED HOMESTEADS ALONG THE BUFFALO, SUCH AS THE COLLIER HOMESTEAD NEAR THE TYLER BEND VISITOR CENTER IN THE MIDDLE PORTION. THE TYLERS CAME HERE FROM KENTUCKY IN THE EARLY 1930's AND THEIRS WAS A SUBSISTENCE FARM. IT WAS A HARD LIVING BUT TO THEM A GOOD LIVING. BEHIND THE HOMESTEAD A QUARTER MILE LONG TRAIL WILL LEAD YOU TO TWO SPECTACULAR OVERLOOKS OF THE RIVER. AND IN THE UPPER PORTION NEAR PONCA, FIRST PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1945, THIS AREA BECAME KNOWN AFTER THAT AS LOST VALLEY. THIS EASY TO MODERATE ONE-MILE HIKE WILL TAKE YOU ALONG TOWERING CLIFFS AND SEVERAL WATER FALLS. WITH EDEN FALLS BEING THE MOST IMPRESSIVE. THERE'S ALSO COB CAVE WHICH IS THE LARGE NATIVE AMERICAN BLUFF SHELTER. AT THE END OF THE TRAIL THERE'S ANOTHER SMALLER CAVE YOU CAN EXPLORE WITH AN UNDERGROUNDWATER FALL. JUST BE SURE TO BRING ALONG AT LEAST TWO LIGHT SOURCES. ALSO IN THE PONCA AREA ALONG BOXLEY VALLEY, YOU CAN SEE ALL THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK THAT WERE BROUGHT INTO THE STATE DURING THE 1980's. EASTERN ELK WERE NATIVE TO THE BUFFALO RIVER AREA BUT VANISHED BY THE 1840's AND ARE NOW EXTINCT. PROBABLY THE MOST RUGGED AND DIFFICULT AREA TO GET THROUGH AND THE MOST TREACHEROUS IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL OR PREPARED IS ALONG INDIAN CREEK CANYON, SOUTH OF KYLES LANDING. THE FIVE MILE OR SO TRAIL IF YOU CAN FOLLOW IT WILL TAKE YOU INTO THE MOST UNTOUCHED PLACES IN THIS COUNTRY. IT'S RECOMMENDED FOR EXPERIENCED HIKERS ONLY. THERE ARE WATER FALLS WITH UNIQUE ROCK FORMATIONS SUCH AS THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE. ALONG THE LOWER PORTION OF THE RIVER, YOU CAN VISIT THE OLD ZINC MINING TOWN OF RUSH, OR WHAT'S LEFT OF IT. IT NOW REMAINS AS THE ONLY GHOST TOWN IN THE NATION THAT'S PROTECTED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. FOR THE MOST AWESOME AND MOST SPECTACULAR SCENERY ALONG THE BUFFALO, THERE ARE TWO AREAS IN THE UPPER PORTION OF THE RIVER THAT ARE A MUST-SEE. FIRST, HEMMED-IN-HOLLOW FALLS. AT 220 FEET AND ACTUALLY THE TALLEST WATER FALL IN MID-AMERICA BETWEEN THE ROCKIES AND THE APPALACHIANS. THERE'S A 2 1/2 TRAIL THAT LEADS TO IT, VERY STRENUOUS THOUGH, SO THE RECOMMENDATION IS TO TAKE THE RIVER AND THEN TAKE A 30-MINUTE HIKE. AND FINALLY WE COME TO THE GOAT TRAIL ALONG 500-FOOT TALL BIG BLUFF. THE SCENERY HERE WILL LITERALLY TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY AS YOU HIKE ALONG A TRAIL THAT GOATS DID INDEED USE YEARS AGO FROM A NEARBY HOMESTEAD. TAKING IN THE SIGHTS HERE, YOU QUICKLY BEGIN TO REALIZE WHY IT WAS SO EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO SAVE THE BUFFALO RIVER REGION FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

IT REALLY IS A TREASURE OF AMERICA. IT IS. IT IS. EVERYBODY SHOULD COME SEE IT AT LEAST ONCE.

> THE BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE IS CONSIDERED ON THE MOST -- TO BE THE MOST DECISIVE BATTLE WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. .

FIRE! FIRE!

THE CONFEDERATES HAD MORE MEN, 16,000 TROOPS COMPARED TO THE UNION FORCES WHICH WAS 10,500 AND WHY DID THE BATTLE TURN OUT THE WAY IT DID?

WELL, THE CONFEDERATE TROOPS HAD STARTED WITH 16,000. BY THE TIME THEY GOT TO HERE, IT WAS PROBABLY 13,000. PEOPLE FALLING OUT ALONG THE WAY. YOU CAN SEE IN TODAY'S -- YOU CAN SEE THE SAME WAY IN 1862. SO A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE HUNGRY. BY THE TIME THEY GOT HERE, THEY ONLY HAD 13,000. SO UNION TROOPS WERE ALREADY HERE, THIS IS WHERE THE SUPPLY BASE WAS. THEY HAD BEEN MARCHING FOR THREE YEARS AND BY THE TIME THEY GOT HERE, THREE DAYS ON THE ROAD IN THE COLD AND THE SNOW, EXHAUSTED THEM. THEY WERE HUNGRY. THEY, YOU KNOW -- THEIR ENERGY WAS ALL SAPPED. THEY WERE IN NO CONDITION TO FIGHT. SO FOR THE -- SO THEY SAID LET'S GO AND THEY ATTACKED. DID VERY WELL ON THE FIRST DAY, HERE ESPECIALLY. THEY CHARGED RIGHT THROUGH HERE, UP TO THE ELKHORN TAVERN AND THEN IT WAS FULL OF FOOD AND THEY STOPPED AND THEY ATE. THEY WERE SO HUNGRY. YOU KNOW, THAT'S ONE REASON -- THE COMMAND POST, THEY COULD HAVE TAKEN IT, BUT THEY WERE SO HUNGRY THEY STOPPED AND ATE.

AND THIS WAS THE ONLY BATTLE I GUESS IN MILITARY HISTORY WHERE A GENERAL -- MOST SUCCESSFUL.

THE SUCCESSFUL -- IT'S BEEN TRIED BEFORE. THIS IS WHERE IT WAS MOST SUCCESSFUL. THE TROOPS FOR THE MOST PART WERE THREE MILES FROM HERE. THIS WAS THE REAR OF THE UNION LINE RIGHT HERE. THERE WERE A SMALL DETACHMENT OF FORCES GUARDING THE FOOD. SOME OF THE JUNIOR OFFICERS DID THINK SOMETHING MIGHT BE UP AND THEY DROPPED A LOT OF TREES ALONG THE ROAD, SLOWING DOWN VAN DOREN ON HIS WAY HERE.

VAN DOREN WAS THE CONFEDERATE GENERAL.

THE GENERAL. HE DROPPED THE TREES ACROSS THE ROAD, YOU CAN'T GET THROUGH. THE TROOPS HAVE TROUBLE GETTING FOOD. SO THEY DROPPED A LOT OF TREES AND SO BY THE TIME THEY GOT UP TO HERE, THEY HAD PUSHED THROUGH A UNION ARTILLERY BATTERY DOWN THE ROAD AND CAME THROUGH AND PUSHED THROUGH THIS BATTERY RIGHT HERE THAT'S WHEN THEY RAN INTO THE FOOD AND SLOWED DOWN A LITTLE BIT.

SO MOST OF THE BATTLE, MOST OF THE FIGHTING ALL TOOK PLACE HERE NEAR ELKHORN TAVERN.

A LOT DID. AND HERE AND DOWN ABOUT A HALF A MILE UP THE WATER, TOWARDS MISSOURI, IN THE FIELD OF -- TO ABOUT HALF A MILE FROM EAST OF US, A LOT OF MASSACHUSETTS STATE GUARD TROOPS AGAINST IOWANS AND ILLINOISANS AND THEY FOUGHT DOWN THERE. THE UNION ARMY RETREATED WHEN THEY RAN OUT OF AMMUNITION AND THEY MOVED BACK TO THEIR WHERE THEIR SUPPLIES WERE. UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE CONFEDERATE SOURCES, THEY WERE STILL IN IS UP -- THEIRS WAS STILL IN THE SUPPLY WAGONS MILES AWAY.

IT HAD MANY NAMES, BUTTERFIELD, OVERLAND STATE ROUTE AND TELEGRAPH WIRES. ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, ALL THE WAY DOWN --

TO FT. SMITH.

AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS.

YEAH, THE LAND ROUTE OF THE TRAIL OF TEARS. THIS WAS A CHEROKEE ROUTE. THEY CAME FROM GEORGIA AND TENNESSEE, WORKING THEIR WAY THROUGH TENNESSEE INTO MISSOURI COMING BACK INTO ARKANSAS. AND COMING RIGHT THROUGH HERE. THIS WAS THE LAST FOOD DEPO FOR THEM. ON THE -- THE ELKHORN TAVERN AT THAT TIME. THIS WAS THE LAST STOP BEFORE THEY GOT THEIR RATIONS BEFORE THEY WENT INTO INDIAN TERRITORY.

PEA RIDGE REPRESENTS WHAT MIGHT BE THE MOST WELL PRESERVED CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD IN THE UNITED STATES. TO GET A GOOD SCOPE OF THIS 4,300 ACRE SITE TAKING THE 7 1/2 MILE AUTO TOUR WOULD BE WELL WORTH YOUR TIME. THE TENT 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 THE AREA THE CONFEDERATE AND UNION FORCES TRAVERSED DURING THE TWO-DAY BATTLE. TAKING THE HIKING TRAIL WHICH VEERS OFF FROM THE LOOKOUT POINT WILL LEAD YOU INTO THE MORE NATURAL AREA OF THE PARK AND INTO THE BACK COUNTRY WHERE MANY OF THE TROOPS MADE THEIR WAY TOWARDS ELKHORN TAVERN. PEA RIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK IS ALSO THE IDEAL PLACE FOR SCHOOL KIDS TO LEARN FIRSTHAND ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR.

FALLS OUT OF THE BARREL, DISTRACTING -- THE BALL IS DOWN BY ITSELF. IT'S GOING TO TRAVEL UP THIS -- THIS WILL TRAVEL 1,600 YARDS BEFORE IT HITS THE GROUND. THIS IS A SOLID SHOT. WHY WOULD YOU USE THE SOLID SHOT?

[ INAUDIBLE ].

WELL, NO, THE SOLID SHOT IS GOOD FOR BREAKING THINGS. LIKE THAT BREAKS THE WHEELS. GO!

FIRE! CEASE-FIRE. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT?

WOW.

LOUD.

YEAH, VERY LOUD. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A LOT LOUDER HAD IT BEEN A REAL GUN. WE FIRED TEN OUNCES OF BLACK POWDER OF REAL -- A REAL ONE HAS 20 OUNCES AND IT'S GOING TO ROLL BACKWARDS AND SOMEWHERE DOWN THERE BY THE TREES WE WOULD HAVE SEEN THE CANNONBALL HIT.

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

IT'S MORE FUN TO LEARN.

YEAH.

THAN ACTUALLY -- ACTUALLY HERE THAN LOOKING IN A BOOK. AND IT'S FUN TO HEAR THE CANNONS GO OFF.

FIRE! FIRE!

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

FIRE! FIRE!

SO WHAT WAS ACTUALLY THE LARGEST ASSEMBLY OF CONFEDERATE TROOPS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI TURNED OUT TO BE A UNION VICTORY INSTEAD. TODAY, ELKHORN TAVERN STANDS AS MEMORIAL IN THE TRANSMISSISSIPPI WEST HERE AT PEA RIDGE. THIS IS THE WAY THAT THE EARLIEST EXPLORES SAW FROM THE BOW OF THE CANOE.

EXACTLY THE RIVERS WERE THE HIGHWAY AND THAT'S HOW THE NATIVE INDIANS TRAVELLED. IN FACT, WHEN MARQUETTE AND JOLIET FIRST CAME TO THE MOUTH OF THE ARKANSAS RIVER THEY WERE GREETED BY SEVERAL DOZEN CANOES FILLED BY QUAPAW WARRIORS. THEY TO BE TOLD TO HOLD IT UP AS A PEACE SYMBOL SO THE QUAPAW KNEW THEY WERE COMING IN PEACE AND THEN THEY WERE INVITED TO PADDLE OVER TO THEIR SHORE AND THEIR VILLAGES. A FEW YEARS LATER, WE GET THE SAME GREETING AND THEY WERE MET BY QUAPAW AND FOUND THEM VERY RECEPTIVE TO ESTABLISHING A TRADE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FRENCH.

I GUESS THE OTHER MODE OF TRANSPORTATION WAS BY KEEL BOAT.

THAT'S RIGHT, THE KEEL BOATS CAME ALONG IN THE 1700's AND WERE USED EVEN AFTER THE STEAM BOATS CAME ALONG BECAUSE THEY WERE A VERY PRACTICAL BOAT. A KEEL BOAT WAS THE 18 WHEELER OF ITS DAY. IT COULD CARRY AS MUCH AS AN 18 WHEELER TRUCK, MAYBE EVEN MORE. THEY COULD BE ANYWHERE FROM 40 TO 80 FEET LONG. AND THEY WEREN'T THAT WIDE, SO THEY COULD STILL GET IN BAYOUS LIKE THIS ONE. AND THE BEST THING ABOUT THEM WAS THAT THEY COULD BE PULLED OR THEY COULD BE PADDLED, THEY COULD BE ROWED AND THEY COULD BE SAILED LIKE A SAILBOAT. SO YOU HAD WAYS TO GO UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM.

SETTLED BY THE FRENCH IN 1686, THE REMOTE POST TO ARKANSAS WAS THE FIRST PERMANENT EUROPEAN COLONY IN THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. THE FRENCH BEING CATHOLIC CONSTRUCTED CROSSES AT THE POST. THE POST PLAYED A VALUABLE ROLE IN THE LONG STRUGGLE BETWEEN FRANCE, SPAIN AND ENGLAND FOR DOMINANCE OF THE LUCRATIVE FUR TRADE.

PEOPLE FORGET THAT THIS AREA WAS SETTLED BY FUR TRADERS, BY HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS. CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, FARMERS DIDN'T SETTLE ARKANSAS. THE FUR TRADE CAME FIRST AND IT RULED FOR OVER A HUNDRED YEARS. EVEN AFTER FARMERS CAME TO BEGIN COLONIZING THE AREA AND SETTLING IN THE NEW PART OF THE UNITED STATES, FUR TRAPPINGS CONTINUED TO BE THE WAY TO PUT MONEY IN THEIR POCKET BECAUSE MANY OF THE FARMERS WERE WERE -- THEY BARELY GREW ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES MUCH LESS BRING IN SOME CASH TO BUY OTHER THINGS WITH. BUT THROUGH THE FUR TRADE EVEN THROUGH THE 1940's MY FATHER AS A CHILD EARNED POCKET MONEY AND MONEY FOR HIS FAMILY THROUGH HUNTING RACCOON AND SELLING THEM AT A LOCAL STEINBERG'S IN TOWN.

THE ROLE OF ARKANSAS POST ACTUALLY SPANS 300 YEARS AT SHAPING AMERICAN HISTORY.

FIRE!

IN 1783 COLBERT'S RAID TOOK PLACE WHICH WAS NOT ONLY THE LAST BATTLE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ON AMERICAN SOIL, BUT ALSO ARKANSAS'S ONLY REVOLUTIONARY WAR EVENT.

FIRE!

COLBERT WAS A BRITISH LOYALIST AND HE BATHERED A FEW OTHER BRITISH PARTISANS AND CHICKASAW AND MARCHED OVER TO WHAT IS TODAY ARKANSAS POST. THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL. FT.CARLOS III WAS THE SPANISH FORT THERE. THEY TOOK HOSTAGES FROM THE NEARBY HOMES AND SHOT A COUPLE OF THE SOLDIERS AT FT. CARLOS. AND AFTER FIRING THE CANNONS AT COLBERT'S MEN, THEY FINALLY DECIDED JUST TO MAKE A BIG NOISE AND RUN OUT THE GATE AND SCARE THEM OFF. AND IT WORKED. COLBERT AND THE BRITISH RAN AWAY.

AFTER ARKANSAS POST BECAME A PART OF THE UNITED STATES FOLLOWING THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE, IN 1819 IT WAS SELECTED AS THE FIRST CAPITAL OF THE NEW ARKANSAS TERRITORY AND HAS OFTEN BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE BIRTH PLACE OF ARKANSAS. WHAT YOU MIGHT SAY WAS THE DECLINE OF ARKANSAS POST HAPPENED DURING THE CIVIL WAR. IN 1863, UNION TROOPS DESTROYED FT. HINDMAN AT THE POST AND ENSURING CONTROL OF THE ARKANSAS RIVER. IN THE POST CIVIL WAR YEARS, DECLINING RIVER TRAFFIC AND RAILROADS UNDERMINED ITS IMPORTANCE AS A PORT. TODAY, ARKANSAS POST NATIONAL MEMORIAL IS A PRISTINE HABITAT FOR HUNDREDS OF AQUATIC SPECIES AND THE GREAT WAY TO EXPLORE IT IS ALL TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONE OF THE BAYOU FLOATS OFFERED IN THE SPRING AND IN THE FALL. FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS THE EUROPEAN TRAPPERS AND HUNTERS ALONG WITH QUAPAW INDIANS WHO WERE DRAWN TO THIS AREA BECAUSE OF ITS PLENTIFUL WILDLIFE AND TODAY, ARKANSAS POST OFFERS EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WILDLIFE VIEWING.

LOTS OF WILDLIFE AND IT DOES CHANGE VISIBLY. OF COURSE, GET A LOT OF WATER FOWL IN HERE WHO STAY DURING THE WINTER AND WE HAVE HAWKS AND EAGLES WHO COME IN IN THE FALL AND STAY THROUGH THE WINTER MONTHS AS WELL. THEN IN THE SPRING WE HAVE A WHOLE DIFFERENT GROUP THAT ARRIVE, PROTHONOTARY WAR BIRDS AND MANY OTHERS COME IN THE SPRINGTIME. YOU SHOULD COME BACK THREE TO SIX MONTHS LATER AND YOU'LL SEE A WHOLE DIFFERENT POPULATION HERE.

SOME OF THAT POPULATION YOU MAY COME UPON IS THE AMERICAN ALLIGATOR. ONCE ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION, IT HAS MADE A COMEBACK IN ARKANSAS. IN FACT, DOZENS OF ALLIGATORS RESIDE AT ARKANSAS POST. A FEW OF WHICH ARE 14 FEET OR MORE IN LENGTH, SO CAREFUL NOT TO GET TOO CLOSE.

> IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST U.S. MILITARY POSTS ESTABLISHED IN THE LOUISIANA TERRITORY. OVERLOOKING THE SITE WHERE THE ARKANSAS RIVERS MEET, THE U.S. ARMY OPTED THIS FOR A FORT AND WHEN THEY ARRIVED HERE IN 1817, THEY NAMED IT FT. SMITH AFTER THOMAS SMITH, THEIR COMMANDING OFFICER. HERE AT THE FT. SMITH HISTORIC SITE, YOU CAN WALK WHERE MEXICAN WAR AND CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS DRILLED PAWS ALONG THE TRAIL OF TEARS AND WITNESS WHERE JUSTICE WAS SERVED.

THE FIRST FORT HERE WAS WITH A WOODSTOCK CAVE, LOOKED LIKE YOUR -- YOU KNOW, YOUR STEREOTYPICAL WOODSTOCK AID MILITARY FORT THAT YOU SEE BACK EAST. I ONLY LASTED EIGHT YEARS. THEY -- THE CITY OF FT. SMITH KIND OF GREW UP AROUND IT AND THE INFLUENCE OF LIQUOR AND OTHER INFLUENCES ON THE SOLDIERS KIND OF DISRUPTED THE MILITARY OPERATION, SO THEY MOVED OVER INTO INDIAN TERRITORY FARTHER THAN WHERE IT WAS ON THE LEFT. IT BECAME EMPTY HERE. OF COURSE, THE CITIZENS THAT HAD MOVED TO FT. SMITH WERE UPIT IS BECAUSE THEIR INCOME MOVED AWAY FROM THEM AND THEY BUILT THE SECOND ONE, WHICH WAS A SUBSTANTIAL MILITARY FORT. IT HAD A STONE WALL AROUND IT. BIG BRICK BUILDINGS, I MEAN, IT WAS FAIRLY IMPRESSIVE PLACE. BUT BY THAT TIME, MOST OF THE HOSTILITIES WERE FARTHER OUT WEST AND IT BECAME MORE OF A SUPPLY BASE. SUPPLIES WOULD COME UP RIVER WHICH IS PRETTY WELL WATER LEVELS WOULD ALLOW IT TO COME UP THIS FAR PRETTY REGULAR. FROM HERE, IT WAS LOAD LOADED -- LOADED ON WAGONS. THEN DURING THE CIVIL WAR, THE UNION -- WHEN THE WAR STARTED THE CONFEDERATES CAME UP FROM LITTLE ROCK, TOOK THE FORT OVER. THE UNION LEFT, THE CONFEDERATES STAYED HERE AND LAUNCHED THEIR MILITARY OPERATIONS INTO PRAIRIE GROVE AND INTO WILSON'S CREEK FROM HERE. AND THEN LATER ON, AS THE WAR OF PROGRESS, THE UNION CAME OUT, CHASED THEM OUT AND THEY STAYED HERE. IT BECAME A UNION BASE FOR OPERATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE WAR. IT WAS A LITTLE BIT ALMOST LIKE VIETNAM, YOU KNOW? THE UNION CONTROL HERE OUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, IT WAS ANYBODY'S GUESS WHO WAS IN CHARGE. IT WAS A ROUGH TIME DURING THE CIVIL WAR IN THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY.

PROBABLY WHAT THIS HISTORIC SITE IS MOST WELL KNOWN FOR IS THIS MAN, JUDGE ISSAC PARKER. FOR 21 YEARS HE HELD THE BENCH OF THE U.S. COURT OF THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS. PARKER WAS NOTORIOUS FOR HIS SWIFT, WESTERN-STYLE JUSTICE AND BECAME KNOWN AS THE HANGING JUDGE.

-- FEW INDIANS, STEP TO THE SIDE.

HE'S BECOME THAT WAY IN THE 20th CENTURY ANYHOW, YOU KNOW? DURING THE PERIOD HE WAS HERE, HE WAS A BELOVED MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY. YOU KNOW, HE WAS ON THE SCHOOL BOARD, THE FIRST HOSPITAL BOARD. HE STARTED THE FIRST ARKANSAS STATE FAIR IN THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY. SO HE WAS AN UPSTANDING CITIZEN HERE AND NOBODY THOUGHT OF HIM AS -- SO MUCH AS A HANGING JUDGE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. IT WAS WHEN THE LITERATURE STARTED IN THE 20th CENTURY THAT THAT CAME ABOUT.

PARKER SENTENCED MORE PEOPLE TO HANG THAN ANY OTHER JUDGE IN AMERICAN HISTORY. 160. BUT LESS THAN HALF OF THOSE, ONLY 79, ACTUALLY WALKED UP THESE GALLOWS TO MEET THEIR FATE. FT. SMITH NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IS PART OF THE TRAIL OF TEARS NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL, A RIVER OVERLOOK INTERPRETS THE REMOVAL OF FIVE EASTERN TRIBES, CHEROKEE,  CHOCTAW, CHICKASAW, MUSKOGEE--OR CREEK, AND SEMINOLE.

ARKANSAS HAS HAD MEMBERS OF ALL FIVE TRIBES RELOCATED FROM THE SOUTHEAST COME UP THE ARKANSAS RIVER. HERE WAS THE LAST STOP BEFORE INDIAN TERRITORY ON THE RIVER. AND THEY -- IF THE TREATY SAID THEY WOULD GET SO MUCH SUPPLIES, YOU KNOW, BEFORE THEY ENTERED INTO INDIAN TERRITORY, THIS IS WHERE THEY WERE ISSUED. THEN LATER ON, FT. SMITH BECAME THE TRADING CENTER AND FOLKS CAME HERE TO GET THE SUPPLIES. I MEAN, THE CITY. THAT'S WHY IT WAS A NICE LANDING SPOT, THE SOLDIERS STAYED HERE. ISSUED THE SUPPLIES. THEN THEY EITHER WENT UP THE RIVER OR THEY COULD CROSS RIGHT HERE AND GO BY LAND. SO A LOT OF THEM WENT UP ON THE RIVER. OBVIOUSLY, THE TRIBES THAT WERE FARTHER OVER IN OKLAHOMA WENT AS FAR AS THEY COULD IN THOSE DAYS ON THE RIVER, THEN THEY HAD TO WALK.

THERE'S A LONG LINE OF THEM. SO WALK A LITTLE --

WITH SUCH VARIED HIS TORE HERE, AREA SCHOOL GROUPS ARE CONSTANTLY BEING PRESENTED WITH THE UNIQUE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM.

THIS WAS THE FIRST FORT BUILT HERE IN FT. SMITH AS FAR BACK AS 1817. SO IT WAS PUT THERE BY SOLDIERS THAT WERE DRESSED LIKE I AM. NOW, THE SOLDIERS WERE CALLED RIFLEMAN AND THEY WERE THE ELITE SOLDIERS OF THE MILITARY DURING THE EARLY 1800's. KIND OF LIKE ARMY RANGERS OR GREEN BERETS. HAVE YOU HEARD OF THOSE KIND OF SOLDIERS? NO? SPECIAL FORCES. WELL, THESE GUYS WERE THE BEST SOLDIERS THAT THE MILITARY HAD. THEY HAD A REASON FOR SENDING THEM HERE. THEY SENT THEM HERE TO KEEP THE PEACE BETWEEN TWO DIFFERENT INDIAN TRIBES, THE CHEROKEE AND THE OSAGE. HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE CHEROKEE? HOW ABOUT THE OSAGE?

THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE THEY DRILLED, STUDENTS GOT TO EXPERIENCE WHAT THAT WAS LIKE.

THE THING THAT'S IMPORTANT HERE, EVERYBODY NEEDS TO KEEP IT STRAIGHT UP. THAT WAY WHAT YOU TURN, YOU DON'T BUMP YOUR BUDDY IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD. WE'RE GOING TO WALK DOWN TO THE RIVER AND I'M GOING TO TAKE US TO THE PATH AND TAKE A WALK DOWN TO THE RIVER. IF YOU START GETTING TIRED I'LL SHOW YOU HOW TO CARRY THE RIFLE IN A DIFFERENT WAY. WE'RE ALMOST THERE. HALT! LEFT FACE. OKAY, NOW, WHEN I TOLD YOU TO ORDER ARMS, YOU GRASP YOUR MUSKET UP HERE. NOW, ORDER ARMS. PUT YOUR HAND UP HERE AND BRING IT DOWN TO YOUR RIGHT SIDE. OKAY. NOW, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO CARRY AROUND A REAL MUSKET THAT'S HEAVIER THAN THAT, LIKE MINE, ALL DAY LONG? WELL, IT WOULD GET EXHAUSTING AFTER A WHILE. I KNOW THAT. ANOTHER THING ABOUT RIFLE REGIMENT, THEY WEAR GREEN. YOU PROBABLY WONDER WHY I'M WEARING THIS FUNNY COAT. YOU KNOW HOW THE HUNTERS WEAR THE CAMOUFLAGE COATS NOW? THIS WAS THE EQUIVALENT TO THAT BACK THEN. THEY HAD YELLOW TRIM ON IT BECAUSE THAT WAS THE GREEN AND YELLOW WERE THE COLORS OF THE REGIMENT AND THEY COULD BLEND INTO THE WOODS AND THEY WOULDN'T SEE THEM AS WELL.

STUDENTS GAIN A GREATER INSIGHT TO ALL THE STEPS THAT GOES INTO PREPARING A MUZZLE LOADER TO FIRE.

PUT IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, AND THEN PRIME -- YOU POUR YOUR POWDER DOWN THERE AND PUSH YOUR BULLET IN, WITHDRAW, RAM IT. SO THEY WITHDRAW IT, RAM DOWN CARTRIDGE. SO YOU RAM DOWN THE CARTRIDGE. AND YOU COME BACK UP TO SHOULDER ARMS. AND THEN AT SHOULDER ARMS, YOU WAIT FOR THE ORDER TO MAKE READY. AT MAKE READY, YOU COCK IT, TAKE AIM. THEY WOULD STEP INTO IT AND FIRE. EVERYBODY HOLD THEIR EARS. FIRE! THERE.

AS ONE MIGHT GUESS, A HISTORY LESSON IN THIS TYPE OF SETTING MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD IN THE STUDENTS' RETENTION FACTOR AND MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL.

THIS IS A BETTER EXPERIENCE THAN HAVING TO STUDY ABOUT IT, AND ALREADY KNOWING ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU GO BACK TO SCHOOL. SO YOU'LL KNOW MORE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HAVING ALL THOSE STEPS TO FIRE OFF A MUSKET OR A RIFLE?

I WOULDN'T WANT TO BE IN A WAR.

CENTRAL HIGH, LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS, SEPTEMBER 4, 1957. WHAT HAPPENED HERE ON THAT DAY SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. WHY SHOULD SOMEONE BE BARRED FROM ENTERING A SCHOOL SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THEIR SKIN COLOR? THERE'S NOT ANY JUSTIFICATION OR LOGIC TO IT. BUT IN 1957, IT DID HAPPEN TO NINE STUDENTS WHO LATER BECAME KNOWN AS THE LITTLE ROCK NINE. AND IT LEFT THEM WITH THEIR OWN PAINFUL HISTORY LESSON AS TO WHY. YOU SEE, CENTRAL HIGH IS NOT JUST ANOTHER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE. BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED HERE BASICALLY PUT ON TRIAL AMERICA'S COMMITMENT TO ITS FOUNDING PRINCIPLES. WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU CAME TO THE SCHOOL THAT MORNING? AND WHAT HAPPENED?

WELL, ALL THE DRAMA AND VIOLENCE THAT HAPPENED ON THE FIRST DAY WAS A REAL SHOCK TO ME BECAUSE AS A 15-YEAR-OLD WHEN I SIGNED UP TO GO TO CENTRAL, I WAS JUST GOING TO SCHOOL. IT WAS 11 BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE, IT'S THERE, THOSE KIND OF TEENAGE WAYS OF THINKING. SO TO COME INTO BOTH SOLDIERS LINING THE SIDEWALK AND A MOB -- WE WERE SANDWICHED BETWEEN THOSE TWO, IT WAS -- OH, IT WAS VERY SHOCKING TO ME. I WOULD ALMOST SAY WE NEVER RECOVERED FROM THAT DAY, BECAUSE I DID ALL THE THINGS LIKE PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE AND HIDING UNDER THE DESKS FROM THE RUSSIANS AND ALL THOSE -- SAYING ALL THE SONGS AND THEN ON THAT FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, I REALIZED IT DIDN'T MEAN -- I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS IN ERROR. SO THAT IS PROBABLY THE STRONGEST FEELING THAT I HAD. WAS OH, MY GOODNESS. THIS WAS NEVER ABOUT ME. AND I WAS HORRIFIED, BUT FASCINATED BY THE WOMEN WHO WERE SCREAMING OBSCENITIES AND IT CONTINUES TO BE SOMETHING THAT I THINK ABOUT AND SORT OF INTERROGATE AND WORK ON UNDERSTANDING AND WORK AT TRYING TO STOP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN. ALTHOUGH THAT'S THE -- ALMOST A WASTE OF TIME, BUT THAT'S WHAT MY LIFE IS ABOUT.

BY TAKING THE CENTRAL HIGH BIKE TOUR YOU'LL HEAR THE STARTLING FACTS BEHIND THOSE BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES OF SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, ELIZABETH ECKFORD, ALSO ONE OF THE LITTLE ROCK NINE.

SHE WALKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS CROWD N THE MIDDLE OF THIS STREET, ALL THE WAY DOWN TO WHERE WE'RE STANDING AND SHE TRIED TO COME IN THROUGH THE SOLDIERS AND THEY SAID, YOU CAN'T COME IN. AT THIS POINT, SHE FIGURED THEY WEREN'T HERE TO HELP HER, THEY WERE TO KEEP HER OUT OF THE SCHOOL. SO SHE CONTINUED TO WALK DOWN THE BLOCK, PEOPLE YELLING AT HER, THEY DIDN'T WANT HER OR THE OTHER NINE IN THE SCHOOL. SHE MADE IT DOWN TO THE END OF THE CORNER WHERE THERE USED TO BE A DRUGSTORE AND THE OWNER SAW HER COMING AND SAW HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE BEHIND HER AND HE LOCKED THE DOOR AND ALL SHE WANTED TO DO WAS GET TO A PAY PHONE TO CALL HER MOM TO COME AND HELP HER. SHE COULDN'T GET IN THERE, SO SHE CAME BACK TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET AND SAT ON A BUS BENCH. SHE WAITED FOR THE CITY BUS TO TAKE HER TO HER MOTHER'S SCHOOL. A COUPLE OF PEOPLE SAT DOWN NEXT TO HER, A COUPLE OF THE PORTERS WERE HERE. ONE SAT DOWN NEXT TO HER AND SAID, DON'T LET THEM SEE YOU CRY. BE BRAVE. FOR THE REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, THE NINE WERE VERY BRAVE.

WELL, DURING THE CRISIS, DAISY BATES, THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, WAS THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL STATE CHAPTER OF THE NAACP. MANY PEOPLE LOOKED AT HER AS A MENTOR TO THE NINE. AND THIS HOUSE WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW, WHILE THE STUDENTS WERE OUT OF SCHOOL, THIS IS LIKE THEIR MEETING PLACE. THE PORTERS CAME HERE, THEY GOT THEIR ASSIGNMENTS, IT BECAME THE DAISY BATES SCHOOL ESSENTIALLY.

THE FINAL STOP OF THE TOUR IS AT THE STATE CAPITOL BY THE LITTLE ROCK NINE STATUE, STRATEGICALLY LOCATED ACROSS FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WINDOW.

THE GOVERNOR, WHEN HE MADE THE DECISION TO KEEP THEM OUT, HE SAT RIGHT THERE. SO AS GOVERNOR FAUBUS HAD TO LOOK OUT, HE GOT TO SEE THE LITTLE ROCK NINE. THEY HAVE TO SIT IN THAT CHAIR AND LOOK DOWN AND SEE THE LITTLE ROCK NINE. IT REFLECTS NOT ONLY ON ONE SECTOR OF PEOPLE, BUT ALL PEOPLE. AND IT'S A LIFE-SIZE STATUE AND THERE'S A QUOTE FROM THE LITTLE ROCK NINE. THEIR OWN QUOTES AND SOME QUOTED OTHERS.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THIS IS ONE BIKE TOUR THAT WILL LEAVE YOU WITH QUITE AN IMPACT.

IMAGINE GOING TO SCHOOL AND NOBODY WANTS YOU THERE, AND STILL, THEY'RE BRAVE AND THEY WENT ANYWAY. I CANNOT IMAGINE.

YEAH.

I NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

GIVES THE NATION A VIVID PORTRAIT OF NINE AFRICAN-AMERICANS STANDING UP FOR THEIR RIGHTS.

AT THE VISITOR'S CENTER, YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE LITTLE ROCK NINE TELLING FIRSTHAND THEIR STORY.

UNLIKE THIS DAY, HERE IS A WORLD -- [ INAUDIBLE ]. THEY WERE HORRIFIED, BECAUSE THERE WAS SO MUCH COVERAGE. EVEN THOUGH WE KNEW THE PEOPLE WERE CRAZY, WE ALSO KNEW THAT THEY'D HAVE TO BE REALLY CRAZY TO SHOW ONE OF US IN PUBLIC.

THE STORY OF CENTRAL HIGH IS AN ONGOING ONE. AS MINIJEAN PUTS IT, WE ARE STILL FAR FROM REACHING THE DREAM OF DR. KING AND NOT JUST IN THE SOUTH.

IN THE SOUTH, IN THE NORTH, IN THE EAST, IN THE WEST, WE ARE WALLOWING AGAIN IN IGNORANCE AND -- SO UNTIL WE DO THAT REAL EDUCATIONAL PIECE FOR ALL OUR CHILDREN, WE'RE GOING TO STAY IN THIS STATE OF SEPARATION.

THE PAIN IS VERY MUCH STILL THERE. BUT MINIJEAN SAYS SHE'S LEARNED TO REROUTE IT TO EDUCATE OTHERS.

IT'S OKAY TO FEEL THE PAIN. THAT WAS THE INTENTION IN THE FIRST PLACE, RIGHT, WAS TO MAKE US FEEL LESS THAN -- TO HURT OUR FEELINGS. TO HURT US PHYSICALLY. AND SO I CAN TAKE THAT AND SHIFT IT AND SAY, WHEN WE HURT OTHERS FOR WHATEVER REASON IT LASTS A LIFETIME. SO, YEAH, IT'S -- YEAH. I DEAL WITH IT. BUT I UNDERSTAND IT MUCH BETTER NOW THAN I DID AT THE TIME. AND THAT'S -- THAT'S THE THING ABOUT GROWING UP IS THAT IT BECOMES MANAGEABLE. SO SOMETIMES I CAN WALK HERE AND BE JUST NONCHALANT. OTHER TIMES UNTIL -- IT JUST COMES AT ME AND I'M JUST BACK THERE. SO YEAH, IT'S A LIFE LONG PROCESS.

WE'RE SAYING WE'RE THE BEST. WE'RE NOT. AND WE BETTER DO SOMETHING TO MAKE OURSELVES THE BEST. AND THAT'S ABOUT EDUCATION. IN MY OPINION. AND I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS OF THE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IS ABOUT EDUCATION. SO THAT'S FOR ALL OF US, THAT'S STARTING EARLY, THAT'S ABOUT LEARNING ABOUT NONVIOLENCE. THAT'S ABOUT LEARNING WHAT THE COST OF SEGREGATION CAN BE FOR ALL OUR CHILDREN. SO IT IS ABOUT EDUCATING OURSELVES AND OTHERS.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. ARKANSAS'S NATIONAL PARKS. ALONG WITH ALL OF OUR STATE PARKS THAT'S ICING ON THE CAKE. GO OUT AND ENJOY THEM, EXPLORE THEM, CHERISH THEM AND ABOVE ALL, RESPECT THEM. OTHERS WILL FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS.

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