Interesting and fun facts about Arkansas

82 Interesting Facts About Arkansas

You are about to learn some interesting, surprising, and fun facts about Arkansas! We will start with some general facts, followed by some more unusual and random facts, facts about Arkansas state laws, and in the final section, Arkansas history facts.

Arkansas, home to Walmart, is famous for its beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes, and wildlife. What else is the Natural State known for? Let’s find out.

General Arkansas Facts

1. Arkansas is a state of the USA located in the South-Central part of the country, along with Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. The states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky are also sometimes grouped in this area.

2. Arkansas is 1 of 16 states of the US that are landlocked (not bordering the water).

3. Arkansas is the 29th largest state, with a total of 53,179 mi2 (137,732 km2) of water and land. In terms of size, it is between Alabama and North Carolina, or similar in size to the country Greece.

4. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee border the state.

5. Arkansas is the 33rd most populous state, with just over 3 million population.

6. Arkansas has a total of 75 counties, the largest (by population) being Pulaski County, where the state capital, Little Rock, is located.

7. Just over 200,000 people live in Little Rock, making it the 115th largest city in the US by population.

Skyline of Little Rock, Arkansas
Downtown Little Rock from Arkansas River

8. Three main Native American groups were traditionally located in the Arkansas region: the Quapaw, Osage, and Caddo tribes.

9. Around 15,000 Marshallese (people from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean) live in Arkansas.

10. Arkansas is known for having diverse geography, including lowlands, forests, national parks, lakes, mountains, and caves.

11. It is also known for extreme weather events, including tornadoes, flash floods, high winds, lightning, and hail storms.  

12. Arkansas is correctly pronounced “Ar-kan-saw”, totally different than the state name “Kansas”, which the word Arkansas contains.

13. Early French explorers named Arkansas in the 17th century. The word was derived from Arkansea, which was based on the name that the Illinois people called the Quapaw people who lived in the Arkansas area.

The Arkansas state flag
The Arkansas state flag

14. The Arkansas state flag has 25 stars, symbolizing it becoming the 25th state.

15. People from Arkansas are called Arkansans (most common) or Arkansawyers (used by some writers).

16. The Mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas and other states in the area, including Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Random Interesting Facts About Arkansas

17. Residents of Arkansas were found to be the biggest binger drinkers in the country.

18. The city of Texarkana sits right on the Arkansas–Texas state line. Texarkana has two governments, one for the Arkansas and the other for the Texas sides. Standing in both states is the Texarkana post office building.

19. Arkansas has one national park: Hot Springs National Park. It features a row of early 20th-century bathhouses built atop the thermal water source.

Aerial view of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas
Strip of hot spring facilities in Hot Springs National Park

20. Arkansas also has 52 state parks (by contrast, California has 270, more than any other state, while Alabama and Rhode Island have the least, 22).

21. Despite being called the Natural State, only 0.18% of Arkansas is covered with national or state parks, the 7th lowest percentage of any state.

22. Still, nearly 19 million acres of Arkansas is forestland, which makes up 56% of the state. There are approximately 11.8 billion trees in the forestland area.

23. The Ozark National Forest has over 500 species of plants and trees that cover 1.2 million acres of land in Arkansas.

24. President Theodore Roosevelt established the Ouachita National Forest in 1907. The forest is considered the oldest in the South. The Ouachita Mountains are known for their unusual ridges that run east to west instead of north to south.

25. Whitaker Point, a rocky outcrop in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area, is the most photographed view in Arkansas (see cover photo).

A winding road in Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas
Mountain Pine Road in Ouachita National Forest

26. Arkansas has over 9,700 miles of rivers and streams (including the mighty Mississippi) and over 600,000 acres of lakes.

27. Mammoth Spring in the north of the state is the world’s 7th largest spring. Over nine million gallons of water flow from it hourly, at a constant cool temperature of 58°F (14°C).

28. The highest temperature ever recorded in Arkansas was 120°F (49°C) in Ozark in 1936.

29. The Crater of Diamonds mine in the state park of the same name is the only active diamond mine in the US and the only one in the world that is open to the public. The three largest diamonds ever found in the US were uncovered in the area.

A waterfall pouring out from Mammoth Springs in Arkansas
Huge output from Mammoth Springs

30. Mount Ida, a town and mountain of the same name, is considered the Quartz Crystal Capital of the World.

31. Arkansas also provides roughly 90% of all bauxite (from which aluminum is made) in the US. The state also produces bromine, natural gas, silica stone, and petroleum.

32. Arkansas has a bizarre phenomenon called the Dover Lights: an unexplained illumination that’s visible from a neighboring overlook in an uninhabited valley of the Ozark Mountains. Local legend claims that the unexplained illumination is caused by the restless spirits of soldiers from Spain who died while searching for treasure.

33. To this day, no one knows why over 1,000 blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas in 2011. It remains a mystery.

34. Walmart, the world’s most profitable company, is based in Bentonville, Arkansas.

A store front and parking lot of Walmart
Arkansas gave Walmart to the world.

35. Famous people from Arkansas include General Douglas MacArthur, actor Billy Bob Thorton, actress Mary Steenburgen, former president Bill Clinton, football coach Paul Bear Bryant, basketball player Scottie Pippen, author John Grisham, female country star Patsy Montana, and folk legend Johnny Cash.

36. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton began their careers teaching law at the University of Arkansas.

37. Only one film that was shot and set in Arkansas has ever won an Academy Award. The movie is Sling Blade (1996) by Billy Bob Thornton. The film won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

38. Ernest Hemingway wrote parts of his classic novel A Farewell to Arms at his then-wife’s (Pauline Pfeiffer’s) hometown of Piggott, Arkansas.

39. In 1932, when a fire broke out in that house, Hemingway saved his manuscripts by throwing them out of his upstairs window. Their house is now a museum, the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

A mosaic of famous people who were born in Arkansas
Some famous Arkansans

40. After the famous criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde were in a car accident in 1933, resulting in Bonnie being severely burned, they hid out at a tourist court (a hotel for motorists) in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

41. Ronald Gene Simmons was the worst mass murderer in Arkansas history. He killed his entire family, which included 14 members, of which one of them was his grandson, who was 20 months old. He was sentenced to death 16 times and executed in 1990.

42. Just before she died in 2015, Gertrude Weaver or Arkansas was the oldest living person in the US and the 11th oldest person to be recorded in history, at just under 117 years of age.

43. The popular makeup brand Maybelline may be officially headquartered in New York City, but in practice, Maybelline has been based in Little Rock since 1975. There’s even a Maybelline Road in Little Rock.

44. Ostrich racing was a thing in Arkansas in the early 20th century. It was a popular activity at Cockburn’s Ostrich Farm in the town of Hot Springs.

A bowl of cheese dip, which is said to have been invented in Arkansas
Thank you, Arkansas, for giving us cheese dip.

45. The most popular things supposedly invented in Arkansas include cheese-filled hot dogs, cheese dip, fried pickles, the Bowie knife, modern archery, and the Wonder Horse (those suspended horses that kids can ride).

46. In Arkansas, more catfish are eaten than in any of the other states.

47. Arkansas is the leading producer of rice and poultry in the US, producing half the nation’s output.

48. Arkansas produces nearly every type of crop in the US, with the exception of citrus fruits.

49. The city of Alma, Arkansas, has declared itself the Spinach Capital of the World. They even commemorated this by painting their water tower as the world’s largest can of spinach.

Aerial view of a farm in Arkansas
Fertile farmland in Arkansas

50. Stuttgart, Arkansas, holds the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest each year.

51. Near Fouke, Arkansas, there has been a sighting of the southern version of Big Foot, called the Boggy Creek Monster or Fouke Monster. It’s said that the Boggy Creek Monster is hairy all over and seven feet tall. It kills cattle, dogs, chickens, and livestock. Some say the Boggy Creek Monster is the cousin of Big Foot.

Facts About Strange Laws in Arkansas

52. It is prohibited by law to mispronounce the name of Arkansas.

53. In Fayetteville, it’s illegal for dogs to bark after 6 PM.

54. If you happen to keep an alligator, it’s illegal to put the animal in your bathtub in Arkansas.

55. If you’re flying in an airplane with a moose, it’s against the law to push the live animal out of the moving airplane.

An old Arkansas stamp
Don’t worry, these old laws aren’t actually enforced!

56. In Little Rock, honking your horn around places where drinks or food are served after 9 PM is illegal.

57. It’s illegal for the Arkansas River to rise above the Main Street Bridge; don’t ask how this one is enforced.

Historical Facts About Arkansas

58. Indigenous people have lived in Arkansas for at least 12,000 years and likely hunted wooly mammoths in the area.

59. The forest of Arkansas started growing around 9500 BCE.

Aerial view of an Arkansas forest in autumn
Ancient forests of Arkansas

60. By 650 BCE, agriculture was being done in the area.

61. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was The first European to reach Arkansas in 1541.

62. Henri de Tonty is considered the “Father of Arkansas”. In 1686, he set up the Arkansas Post.

63. In 1804, Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase, when the US purchased a huge area of land from France.

64. In 1819, Arkansas became an individual territory of the US, with Arkansas Post as its capital.

A wooden cross and river at Arkansas Post National Memorial
Arkansas Post National Memorial, the original capital, at the confluence of two rivers

65. In 1921, the capital was moved to Little Rock, a city named after a rock formation on its river.

66. Arkansas became an official state of the US in 1836.

67. In 1871 the University of Arkansas was founded, with three faculty members and eight students in the first year. Today, it has around 1,500 faculty members and over 29,000 students.

68. Every governor of Arkansas was a member of the Democratic Party from 1874 to 1967.

69. In 1899, wooden coffins were unearthed during the excavation of the former Arkansas Penitentiary. The Arkansas State Capitol was built on these grounds.

Exterior of Arkansas State Capitol building
The Arkansas State Capitol

70. In 1906, the first diamonds were found in Pike County.

71. The State Capitol building’s elevator crushed Representative Iva Gurley to death in 1932.

72. In 1932, the first woman elected to the US Senate was Arkansas native Hattie Caraway.

73. In 1957, Little Rock became a focal point of the American Civil Rights movement over the controversial desegregation of schools there.

74. In 1962, Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in Rogers, Arkansas.

A riverside park in Little Rock, Arkansas
A riverside park in Little Rock today

75. In 1981, when Arkansas was at the height of the AIDS pandemic, a lone woman, Ruth Cocker Burks, held funerals and buried over 40 gay men when their own families wouldn’t.

76. In 1993, Bill Clinton of Arkansas became the 42nd President of the United States.

77. In 1995, Arkansas changed its nickname from “Land of Opportunity” to “The Natural State” to promote tourism.

78. In 2002, Walmart officially became the world’s largest company.

A cycling path on Big Dam Bridge, Little Rock
Big Dam Bridge, Little Rock

79. In 2006, the Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock, North America’s longest pedestrian and cycling bridge was opened.

80. In 2011, flooding of the Mississippi covered more than 1 million acres of cropland, with 63 Arkansas counties declaring it a disaster.

81. Also in 2011, 36 million pounds of turkey were recalled across the country, with a salmonella outbreak linked to a facility in Arkansas.

82. On June 24, 2022, Arkansas banned abortion across the state.

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