Monday, March 4, 2024

The Arkansas Delta

Location: Merrisach Lake Campground (COE); Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas

The Arkansas Delta is the eastern third and southeastern corner of the state. Massive farms are located everywhere. It reminds me of vast farms in Kansas and Nebraska. The campground is on the banks of the Arkansas Post Canal which connects the White River to the Arkansas River. I came here to see two river locks and one dam. I made reservations for three days and now wish I had only reserved two. I saw what I wanted to see on day two and since the campground is literally in the middle of nowhere, there isn't anything to do but walk around and think. There is actually only one direction to leave this place and that is north. The other three directions are dead ends. I thought about passing the time today by playing a DVD since I have several movies that I haven't watched yet thanks to that bin of $5.00 movies at Walmart. Hint, hint, since every DVD in there is only $5.00, look for the ones with more than one movie. I found one the other day that had 4 movies. I felt a little guilty about buying it, but I got over that feeling pretty quickly. Naw, I didn't feel like hooking up the DVD player then have to stow it away before leaving tomorrow.

This is the travel picture showing the large farms. Houses are located about every 1 1/2 miles. 

I've seen these "lonely trees" all over the country. They stand alone and haven't been cut down for a reason. But, usually only the land owner knows the real reason. Over the years, I've thought of and posted several reasons why I think they haven't been cut down. Every time I see one, it makes me happy and sad at the same time.

This is my second campsite. The first one had a bad electrical pedestal and dummy me set up Liberty and checked the power last. I keep re-learning that lessons. Notice the tow in the background headed downstream. 

This is from one of the walks around the campground. That is Freedom and Liberty in the middle of the picture. 

It was about 70 degrees on this walk. You can imagine how different it will be in the middle of the summer with the tree fully leafed out and a full campground with 100 degrees under a blazing sun. Yep, I'm convinced I picked the right time of the year to visit here.

This is an interesting location to begin exploring the Arkansas River. Until late 1970, the river was so unpredictable, only small boats could use it. That changed in the 1950's when politicians from Arkansas and Oklahoma asked for money to make the river navigable from the Mississippi River up into Oklahoma. Eisenhower was the president at the time and he thought it was a waste of money, so he didn't push for Congress to fund it. That all changed when the Senators from Arkansas and Oklahoma told Ike that they felt the same way about his pet project, The Federal Interstate System. Well, after they chatted for a while, Congress passed the money for both projects. What do you know, just like magic.

It only took about 8 to 9 years to build the entire 445 miles of navigable waterway. The first commercial barge made the trip from the Mississippi River to near Tulsa, Oklahoma in December of 1970. That is super fast to build 18 locks and dams. I can guarantee you that couldn't be done now-a-days.

I put this map together from Google Earth and ran it through Picasa with the intent to discuss this weirdly effective system at the beginning of the waterway. Two locks without dams, a dam without a lock and a dam located on the bottom of the river. That may spark the interest of some people. 
Remember the tow that was in the background of the campsite picture? Well, that's it coming downstream to pass through Lock #2 which is under the bridge I'm sitting on. 
This is looking out the passenger window while sitting on the bridge over the locks. This is looking downstream and a couple of miles that a way is Lock #1. These are the two locks without dams.
This is Mills Dam located about 10 miles from the campground. It is the dam with no lock and is used to separate the Arkansas River from the Arkansas Post Canal. The Arkansas River below this point is not navigable but the dam provides deep water upstream for navigation. 

I wasn't sure if these were new buoys or ones that had just been painted. My immediatte thought when seeing them was something that was drilled into me while in the Navy back in the 70's,,,, "Red, Right, Returning". It means, keep the red buoys on your right (starboard) when returning from sea.

The campground is actually nice and peaceful. It is perfect weather for walking and the bare trees gives it an eerie look. Another blogger was camped here when I showed up. They were Stephen and Karen from ,,,,

This was the best sunset of the three evenings here. 

Tomorrow is moving day and the next area has a couple of interesting things to explore. Something from the 1800's and something from the 1940's.

A thunderstorm is blowing through so I better post this without proofing it.  

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.


1 comment:

  1. I had to go research this! Never taught us about that in school. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.