If I may, today I would like to begin by asking you a couple of questions. Please take a moment to ponder them. First, how much do you know about your state? And next, how much do you know about the other 49? And then, a follow-up question: Would you like to know more?
In addition to today's column about my own state, I am considering featuring a different state, once each month, and taking them in alphabetical order. The information in this column will give you an idea of the kind of information that I would like to present about the other 49 states. My email address is [email protected] and if you would be so kind, I would like to have some feedback from you.
For many years Arkansas was known as "The Land of Opportunity." In 1995, for the benefit of the tourism industry, it was changed to "The Natural State." Our state is a South-Central State roughly in the shape of a square. It is bordered on the north by Missouri, on the west by Texas and Oklahoma, on the south by Louisiana, on the east by Tennessee and Mississippi, with the Mississippi River as the eastern boundary. The state is made up of 75 counties and has a little more than 3 million people. There are 10 counties in the state that have two county seats: Arkansas, Carroll, Clay, Craighead, Franklin, Logan. Mississippi, Prairie, Sebastian and Yell. In our state before the days of highways and bridges, when water from a river or stream got over its banks, people from one side could not get to the courthouse to take care of business, so they just established another courthouse.
The state's surface area consists of 53,104 square miles, ranking it 27th in size among the states. Little Rock is the capital and largest city in the state, with the Little Rock-North Little Rock area being the largest and most important manufacturing and trade centers. Other important industrial and trade centers are Fort Smith, El Dorado, Hot Springs, Conway, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Jonesboro and Blytheville. Arkansas achieved statehood on June 15, 1836, as the 25th state. The name "Arkansas" comes from an Indian word that means "Land of the Downstream People."
The state flower is the Apple Blossom, the state tree is the Short Leaf Pine, the state bird is the Mockingbird, and the state motto is: "The People Rule." Today the state leads the nation in raising broiler chickens, the growing of rice, and the production of bromine. It also mines about 85 percent of the nation's bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is made.
A visitor to our state may wish to visit the only diamond mine in North America near Murfreesboro, Gen. Douglas McArthur's birthplace in Little Rock, Blanchard Springs Caverns and Ozark Folk Center near Mountain View, President Bill Clinton's Presidential Library in Little Rock, and many other interesting and unique places in The Natural State.
My friend, to be sure this information only scratches the surface, but we all need to know more about the state we call home. From my own perspective, I can tell you for sure, "There is no place like home."