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Exploring Arkansas November 2012

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Museum of Native American History, White River Monster, Possum Kingdom Trail, Gilbert
The Museum of Native American Histoy in Bentonville is a collection, according to many visitors rivals that of the Smithsonian with artifacts from 14,000 years ago. The "White River Monster" hasn't been sighted since the early 1970's, but its legend continues in the Newport area. The Possum Kingdom Trail north of Lake Ouachita in the Ouachita National Forest offers mountain biking opportunities on gravel, paved and unsurfaced road types. The self proclaimed "Coolest Town in Arkansas" (coldest place on average) happens to be Gilbert near the banks of the Buffalo National River The town and the General Store haven't changed much since 1901.

TRANSCRIPT

AT THE MUSEUM OF NATIVE AMERICAN OF HISTORY IN BENTONVILLE YOU CAN VIEW RELICS DATING BACK 14,000 YEARS COVERING 5 DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS. IN SHORT YOU WILL BE AMAZED WHAT YOU CAN FIND HERE. THE COLLECTION HERE AT THE MUSEUM OF NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY IS 1 THAT BASICALLY OUT GREW OWNER DAVID BOGLE'S PRIVATE RESIDENCE.

INITIALLY IT WAS LARGELY MY COLLECTION, BUT IT'S BEEN EXPANDED NOW. NOW, WE HAVE PIECES FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS. WE HAVE PIECES FROM OTHER COLLECTORS AROUND THE COUNTRY THAT HAVE LOANED SO PEOPLE CAN ENJOY AND LEARN FROM THEM AND WE CONTINUE TO GROW EVERY YEAR.

AND IT GOES FROM 5 TIME PERIODS AND OF COURSE WE START OVER THERE.

WE START OVER HERE. IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE'RE A HISTORY MUSEUM. WE HAVE A SPECIFIC GOAL IN THAT WE ARE HERE TO DISPEL THAT MIDDLE CONCEPT THAT PEOPLE HAVE WHAT A NATIVE AMERICAN LOOKS LIKE. WE HAVE THIS IDEA THAT THEY ALL LOOK LIKE A SIOUX INDIAN WITH A LONG HEAD DRESS SITTING ON A SPOTTED PONY ON THE GLASS LANDS OF NEBRASKA BUT THAT'S NOT TRUE. WE HAD OVER A THOUSAND TRIBES SPREAD ALL OVER NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SO WE'RE HERE TO SHOW THE RANGE OF NATIVE AMERICANS THAT LIVE HERE.

I FOUND FASCINATING YOU HAVE THE ILLUSTRATION HERE ON THIS WALL IS THE -- WHAT THEY HAD AS HELP IN THROWING A SPEAR.

IT IS. THIS IS CALLED AN ATLADLE AND WAS A SPEAR THROWER. THIS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTION BEFORE POWDER AND HERE THEY WENT AFTER THE GREAT BEAST OF THE ICE AGE AND WHEN THE ICE AGE ENDED WE WENT INTO WHAT WE CALL THE ARCHAIC TIME PERIOD, AND THE GIANT BEAST WENT EXTIRCHT AND EARLY MAN HAD TO ADAPT, HAD TO LEARN TO HUNT SMALLER AND FASTER GAME, THE BISON, THE BEAR, THE DEER, ELK, ROOST AND MUCH FASTER. HE COULD NO LONGER HUNT WITH A SPEAR AND THIS WAS A STICK ABOUT 18 INCHES LONG. IT HAD A HANDLE MADE FROM BONE. IT HAD A HOOK ON THE END OF IT, AND IT HAD A WEIGHT, SO IF YOU CAN IMAGINE LIKE A TENNIS RACKET, AND SO THIS AT LEVEL WOULD EXTEND YOUR ARM 18-INCHES AND ALLOW YOU TO THROW A SPEAR. THERE ARE CONTESTS EVERY WEEKEND AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND WHERE WITH JUST A SPEAR YOU'VE GOT TO -- MAYBE YOU COULD THROW IT 20 OR 30-YARDS WITH ENOUGH POWER, BUT WITH AN ATLADLE AND THEY'RE GOING AT 6-FOOT TARGET AND 3 FOOTBALL FIELDS AND THIS ALLOWED EARLY MAN TO BE ABLE TO HUNT THOSE FASTER AND SMALLER GAME.

DAVID, IN THESE CASES IS REALLY FASCINATING. YOU START OFF -- IT'S GOING BACK NOT JUST IN THE CENTRAL AMERICA OR THE 48 STATES, BUT YOU HAVE OTHER REGIONS.

YES. HERE AT THE MUSEUM WE NOT ONLY DISPLAY NATIVE AMERICAN ARTIFACTS FROM NORTH AMERICA, BUT WE DO PRE-COLUMBIA, WHICH IS ANY CIVILIZATION SOUTH OF THE PRESENT DAY BORDER SO WE HAVE THE MAYAN AND THE AZTEC AND 1 OF MY FAVORITES COMES FROM WESTERN PART OF MEXICO AND THAT IS TODAY WHERE PUTERO VALARTA IS AND THEY MADE THESE WONDERFUL JARS AND 19 HAVE LIVED HUNDREDS OF YEARS AND WE ARE HAPPY TO HAVE THIS ON DISPLAY RIGHT NOW.

NATIVE AMERICAN HEAD DRESSES DAVID ARE ALWAYS FASCINATING. TELL US EXACTLY WHAT THE PURPOSE WAS?

THIS WAS 1 OF OUR NEWEST DISPLAYS. THE PURPOSE WERE ACTS OF BRAVERY, AND THESE WERE GIVEN TO INDIVIDUALS, TO BRAVES, FOR THEIR DIFFERENT ACTS OF VALOR, AND IT WOULD BECOME A SIGN OF POWER. THE LARGER THE HEAD DRESS THE MORE THAT YOU HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN ACTS OF SPECIAL IMPORTANCE.

LIKE THE CHIEFS?

EXACTLY, EXACTLY.

MANY VISITORS WHO HAVE SEEN THE EXHIBIT SAY IT EVEN RIVALS THE 1 AT THE SMITHSONIAN BECAUSE OF THE BROAD SPECTRUM OF THE COLLECTION.

IT'S A REALLY INTERESTING COLLECTION IN THAT IT HAS EXAMPLES FROM ALL OVER THE AMERICAS, FROM FAR NORTH TO FAR SOUTH, AND DIFFERENT GROUPS AND DIFFERENT CULTURES ALL IN 1 PLACE. IT'S PRETTY INTERESTING. 1 OF THE THINGS I ENJOY SEEING IS THE PHOTOGRAPHS. I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER, SO IT WAS STRIKING AND INTERESTING TO SEE THOSE PHOTOS.

ALONG WITH THE SPEARS AND THE BEAU BOW AND ARROWS AND SOMETHING ELSE WE'RE HOLDING IS AND NOT ASSOCIATED WITH NATIVE AMERICANS.

YOU'RE RIGHT AND WHEN WE THINK OF THE SOUTH AND WE HAVE THEM HERE AND ESPECIALLY ON THE EAST COAST. THESE PARTICULAR ONES ARE CHEROKEE. THEY'RE FROM NORTH CAROLINA. WHAT MAKES THESE BLOW GUNS UNUSUAL THEY WERE NOT MADE FROM CANE. THEY WERE MADE FROM A SACKLING SO THE PERSON THAT MADE THIS WOULD HAVE CHOSEN A VERY STRAIGHT PIECE OF WOOD TO WORK WITH, AND THEN HAD WORKED IT DOWN TO JUST THE SIZE THEY WANTED, AND THEN WHAT THEY DID IS TOOK IT AND SPLIT IT AND THEN THEY HALLOWED OUT THE INSIDE, AND THEN PUT IT BACK TOGETHER, GLUED IT BACK TOGETHER AND DECORATED IT. THEY PAINTED IT, BUT WHAT THAT ALLOWS YOU GET A VERY SMOOTH CORE AND SO YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FRICTION ASSOCIATED WITH CANE, AND SO WE HAVE A VENT EVENT HERE AT THE MUSEUM WHERE WE USE THESE IN CONTESTS AND IT'S AMAZING TO SEE, EVEN LITTLE SMALL KIDS, 6 OR 7 YEARS OLD, CAN TAKE THIS BLOW GUN AND SHOOT IT WITH ENOUGH POWER TO SHOOT A DART TO THE TARGET.

ALSO LOOKING AT THE WIDE VARIETY OF BOWS FOR I GUESS EACH OF THE CAMANSY, THE SIOUX, ALL OF THE BOWS.

THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN BOWS IS THE LENGTH SO WE SEE THAT THE WOODLAND TRIBES WOULD HAVE LONG BOWS BECAUSE THEY'RE HUNTING ON FOOT, AND THEN THE SHORT BOWS ARE THE PLAINS TRIBEOS HORSEBACK AND NEEDED SOMETHING SHORT AND EASY TO BE ABLE TO HUNT AND RIDE AT THE SAME TIME.

A LOT OF THESE -- A LOT OF THE WOOD THAT IS EVEN IN ARKANSAS THE O SAGE ORANGE.

EXACTLY. IT'S THE MOST POPULAR.

THE MAYANS ALWAYS A FASCINATION WITH EVERYBODY.

THE MAYANS WELL WONDERFUL PIECES OF POTTERY, AND THEY WOULD DO GOLD PENDANTS, BUT MY FAVORITE ARE THESE ECCENTRICS AND NO 1 KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT THESE WERE MADE FOR OR HOW THEY WERE USED, BUT YOU COULD SEE THEY'RE IN THE SHAPES OF SCORPIONS AND MONKEYS AND CIRCLES AND ALL THESE STRANGE SHAPES, AND THEY WOULD MAKE THEM OUT OF SPECIAL PLANTS THAT WHEN HELD TO THE LIGHT WOULD BE TRANSLUCENT, BUT TODAY WE'RE STILL NOT SURE WHAT THEY WERE MADE FOR.

SO ENJOY A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF AT THE MUSEUM OF NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY IN BENTONVILLE.

YOU DON'T HEAR TOO MUCH ANYMORE ABOUT THE WHITE RIVER MONITOR NEAR NEW PORT AND NEAR THE 70'S THERE WERE REPORTED SIGHTINGS OF SOME CREATURE IN THE RIVER AND 15 FEET OR LONGER. WELL, DID HE VANISH OR IS HE STILL AROUND? WE DECIDED TO COME HERE AND CHECK IT OUT.

ALLEGEDLY THE STORY OF THE RIVER RONSTER GOES BACK TO A LEGEND OF A YOUNG BRAVE IN A CANOE AND GOT BUMPED AND TIPPED OVER AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE RIVER MONSTER AND IN 1937 A FARMER SOUTH OF NEW PORT. HE WAS ON THE FARM AND HAD SHARE CROPPERS THERE AND THEY WERE FISHING AND SOMETHING WAS DISTURBING THE FISHING AND THEY WANTED TO FIND OUT WHAT IT WAS. THEY SAID FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS THEY SAW A GRAYISH MASS IN THE RIVER AND CONNECTED THE AUTHORITIES AND WANTED TO KNOW IF HE COULD BLOW IT UP WITH DYNAMITE AND THEY ASSURED HIM THAT WASN'T THE RIGHT COURSE OF ACTION SO THEY CAME OUT AND THE SHOULD HAVE'S DEPUTY SAW A CREATURE AND SIMILAR TO A LARGE CATFISH IN THE RIVER AND THAT THE EXTENT OF THE ACTUAL SIGHTINGS AT THE TIME. IN THE COMMUNITY THEY HAD A DIVER COME IN FROM MEMPHIS AND HE CAME AND DOVE IN THE RIVER AND OBVIOUSLY DIDN'T FIND ANYTHING OF SUBSTANCE BECAUSE THE WATER LITERALLY WAS ABOUT 2 FEET IN VISIBILITY SO THERE WEREN'T ANY CLEAR PICTURE THERE IS, AND THEN WHITEY, AS AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN AROUND HERE, AND WAS ABSENT FOR YEARS AND A FEW MORE SIGHTINGS AND 5 OR 6, A LOT OF FISHERMAN, LOCALS OVER THE YEARS CLAIM TO SEE WHITEY IN EVIDENCE, BUT NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE CAME OF THOSE SIGHTINGS, AND THEN WE GO ON AND THE CITY COUNCIL WOULD GET WIND OF THIS AND WELL JUST IN CASE THERE IS AN ANIMAL AROUND WE SHOULD PROTECT THIS ANIMAL SO THEY VOTED FOR THIS AREA AS THE NATIONAL SANCTUARY FOR THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER. I GUESS STATE WIDE THEN. THEN THE ARKANSAS STATE LEGISLATURE ACTUALLY GOT WIND OF THAT AND THEY PASSED LEGISLATION YOU'RE IN THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER ANIMAL WHILE LIFE SAIRCHT AREA. IT'S ILLEGAL TO TRAMPLE OR HARM OR IMPEDE THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER IN THIS AREA.

WE CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO DO THAT, AND SOME PEOPLE MAYBE HAVE SAID IT'S LIKE AT PICTURE OF YOU HAVE OF THIS ALLIGATOR GUARD AND MAYBE IT WAS THAT.

ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS A LOT OF SPECULATION AMONG SCHOLARS AND PEOPLE THAT WOULD CONSIDER THEMSELVES SCALARS TO WHAT THE ACTUAL IDENTITY OF THE MONSTER MIGHT BE AND PROBABLY A CATFISH OR OTHER FISH THAT ARE IN THIS AREA AND WILDIER SPECULATION, THE MANTEES AND SHARKS AND ALLIGATORS. NONE OF THOSE SEEM LIKELY WHEN YOU COMPARE TO THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE WHAT COULD SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN THIS AREA.

THERE WAS EVEN SPECULATION THAT THE MONSTER MIGHT HAVE BEEN A LARGE ELEPHANT SEAL THAT WANDERED UP THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND INTO THE WHITE RIVER AND WEIGHING 5,000 POUNDS AN ELEPHANT SEAL HAS THESE CHARACTERISTICS AND THE ONLY PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN IN 1971 WHICH SHOWS A MASS ON THE RIGHT SIDE, SUPPOSEDLY THE CHEEMP'S SIDE, AND RIGIDS TO THE LEFT SIDE AND SPLASHY WATER IS CAUSED BY THE TAIL. THERE IS 1 OTHER THEORY AND THAT THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER WAS MAN-MADE.

THERE ARE STORIES THAT MR. BATEMAN HIMSELF WAS TRYING TO PROTECT HIS MUSSELS AND USE AND FIND. ALSO A FISHERMAN IN LATER HES HE INFLATED THE BOAT TO SCARE PEOPLE AWAY FROM HIS FISHING SPOT SO A LOT OF SPECULATION ABOUT THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER.

AND OLD WHITEY WILL PROBABLY CONTINUE TO BE A MYSTERY FOR MANY MORE YEARS TO COME.

NORTH OF LAKE OUACHITA THERE IS THE POSSUM KINGDOM TRAIL AND AVAILABLE FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING AND HORSEBACK RIDING AND TRAILS AND IT TRAVERSES ACROSS DIRT ROADS AND PAVED ROADS. THE POSSUM KINGDOM TRAIL SYSTEM IS LOCATED OFF HIGHWAY 298, 12 AND A HALF MILES WEST OF HIGHWAY 7 AT THE SIGN TURN SOUTH ON TO HARPER'S GROCERY ROAD AND CONTINUE UNTIL YOU COME TO 1 OF THE FOREST SERVICE ROADS WHICH IS THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAIL LOOP SYSTEM. MOST OF THE 14 OR SO MILES OF THE TRAIL SYSTEM IS EITHER PRIMITIVE OR DIRT ROAD. ONLY ABOUT 1 AND A HALF MILES IS PAVED. TO TRAVERSE THE ENTIRE LENGTH PLAN ON ABOUT 3 TO 4 HOURS. NOW, IF YOU HAPPEN TO LOSE YOUR BEARINGS THERE IS NO WAY TO GET LOST OUT HERE BECAUSE SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL BE ON A DIRT OR PAVED ROAD LIKE THIS 1. FOR THE MOST PART THE RIDE IS LEVEL AND A GOOD CHOICE FOR A FAMILY TYPE BIKE RIDE AND IT'S EXCEPTIONALLY PLEASANT IN FALL AND SPRING. THERE IS NO DRINKI WATER OF ANY TIME SO YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN TO STAY HYDRATED IN THE SUMMER. SOUTH ABOUT A HALF A MILE OR SO IS THE LENA LANDING RECREATION AREA AND YOU WILL FIND A IF YOU SERVICE MARINA AREA AND CABINS IF YOU SPEND THE NIGHT AND RV SITES ARE AVAILABLE TOO AND GIVE THE POSSUM KINGDOM TRAIL A TRIAL NEAR THE OUACHITA IN NATIONAL FOREST.

IT'S CALLED THE COOLEST TOWN IN ARKANSAS FOR A COUPLE DIFFERENT REASONS WHICH WE WILL EXPLAIN LATER. GILBERT JUST A STONE'S THROW AWAY FROM THE BANKS OF THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER. THE TOWN SWRAIRCHGER SINCE 1901 HAS BEEN THE GILBERT GENERAL STORE. THE ENTIRE SETTING IS STRAIGHT OUT OF THE WALTONS. THE TOWN'S NAMESAKE GOES BACK TO THE RAILROAD DAYS OF THE EARLY 1900'S WHEN A CONSTRUCTION CAMP FOR THE MISSOURI AND ARKANSAS RAILROAD WAS BUILT AND IN HONOR OF GILBERT HEAD OF THE ALLEGHENY SUPPLY COMPANY AND NOW THE RAIL BED IS A HIKING TRAIL ALONG THE BUFFALO RIVER. THE GILBERT GENERAL STORE ALSO SERVED AS THE TOWN'S POST OFFICE UNTIL 1997. THE OLD BOXES ARE STILL IN THE STORE. THE ENTIRE STORE IS ACTUALLY A WORKING MUSEUM. THERE IS A OLD JOHN BOAT ON DISPLAY THAT THE OWNER UNEARTHED NEAR THE RIVER AND HOW BEN BECAME THE EVENTUAL OWNER OF THE STORE IS A STORY IN ITSELF.

BASICALLY MY BUDDIES IN THE AIR FORCE FOR HIS LIFETIME. WE FLOATED INTO GILBERT IN THE SUMMER OF 70 AND FELL IN LOVE AND WALKED UP THE RIVER AND FELL IN LOVE AND MY DAD SAID "TAKE A PICTURE" AND I SAID I DON'T HAVE A CAMERA" AND HE SAID "TAKE A MENTAL SHOT". COMING UP THERE IN THE SUMMERTIME I KNEW WHERE I WANTED TO BE. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL STATE. THE ARKANSAS FOLKS ARE WONDERFUL. I REALLY ENJOY IT. WE DIDN'T ACQUIRE THE STORE AT THAT TIME BUT MY FATHER DID BUY PROPERTY HERE AND WE WERE GRANDFATHERED IN AS A CANOE CONCESSION IN 72 WHEN IT GOT NATIONAL STATUS AND THAT'S WHEN I WAS COMING UP HERE AND HAVING FUN. I MET MY WIFE CINDY UP HERE. THE STORE CAME UP FOR SALE 88. MY FATHER SAID BIG FISH LITTLE POND AND LITTLE FISH BIG POND AND WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE? WE BOUGHT IT ALL TOGETHER AND HAVE BEEN HERE EVER SINCE SO TO SPEAK. GILBERT HAS CHANGED BUT IT HASN'T. IT'S KIND OF BITTERSWEET BECAUSE I CAN GO BACK IN TIME AND SEE A LOT OF THINGS FROM THAT ERA IN THE 70'S THAT LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME, AND I CAN SEE A LOT OF CHANGE ALSO, BUT IN RETROSPECT THIS IS A PART OF ARKANSAS THAT REALLY HASN'T CHANGED A GREAT DEAL WHICH IS REALLY NICE. ALONG WITH THE PARK SERVICE WE BORDER LAND ON THE SOUTH SIDE AND THE WEST SIDE AND THE EAST SIDE OF GILBERT WHICH I KNOW WILL NEVER CHANGE WHICH IS WONDERFUL. RIGHT NOW TITLE POPULATION IN GILBERT IS 13 AND EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT EVERYBODY IS DOING SO YOU HAVE TO BE ON YOUR BEST BEHAVIOR SO TO SPEAK. SOMETIMES THAT DOESN'T HELP EITHER. IT'S A RELAXED ENVIRONMENT. IT'S A GREAT PLACE FOR ME TO MAKE A LIVING AND I HAVE ENJOYED THOROUGHLY DEALING WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND ALSO BEING A TEMPORARY CARETAKER OF THE STORE BECAUSE I KNOW THERE WILL BE SOMEBODY BEHIND ME TAKING CARE OF IT WHEN I AM LONG GONE BUT IT'S A NICE ENVIRONMENT, A GREAT WAY TO MAKE A LIVING. IF YOU THINK YOU WILL GET RICH IT WON'T HAPPEN BUT YOU JUSTIFY THE SURROUNDINGS FOR THE REST.

OKAY. COOLEST TOWN IN ARKANSAS I GUESS FOR A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT REASONS.

FIRST OFF THAT HAPPENED -- YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME. I MISPLACED MY FILES UPSTAIRS BUT WHEN I WAS A CITY COUNCIL MAN IN THE 80'S OUR COUNCIL WAS A TOTAL OF LOT OF MATURE ADULTS IN THEIR 70'S AND I THOUGHT LET'S GET A SIGN OUT THERE AND IT'S GOT SOME COOL PEOPLE AND IT WAS NAMED THE COOLEST NAME IN ARKANSAS. WELL, THAT GOT POO POOED AND THEY DIDN'T LIKE THAT AND IT'S THE COOLEST PLACE ON STATE AND MAYBE I CAN GET MY HALF AND ANOTHER HALF AND THE CITY COUNCIL ENJOYED THAT AND SAID THIS IS A GOOD IDEA AND HENCE THE COOLEST TOWN IN ARKANSAS, SO I HAVE TO SAY MY LITTLE SAYING GOT US GOING, BUT THAT'S HOW THAT STARTED BUT IT TOOK A TIME TO GET IT GOING BUT IT'S STILL THE COOLEST TOWN IN ARKANSAS I HAVE TO ADMIT.

SO FOR THOSE OF YOU NEVER EXPERIENCE GILBERT I ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO SO AND FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OF OUR OTHERS OR TO GET A D.V.D OF AN EPISODE VISIT OUR NEW WEBSITE AND WE WILL SEE YOU AGAIN NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS".

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