Cypress lumbering in antebellum Arkansas
Preacher William Graham's arduous crossing of the Mississippi River floodplain between Memphis and Little Rock in 1844 was not without its charms, as the quote above clearly shows. Prior to the Civil War, the imposing virgin forests of eastern Arkansas had both frustrated and amazed travelers, including German adventurer Frederick Gerstaecker and writer Thomas Bangs Thorpe. It is indeed remarkable that today, as motorists speed along the paved highways that embrace the Mississippi River Delta, how few trees appear on the horizon. Rather, seemingly endless fields of corron, rice, corn, soybeans, and other crops have transformed this once dense forest into one of the premier agricultural regions of the United States, with over 80,000 farms producing more than $8 billion worth of commodities annually (Gardner and Nolan 82).