They had to put it somewhere

Lousiana purchase survey marker

The monument you see marks the exact spot of the original survey point of the Louisiana Purchase. It sits in the Arkansas Louisiana Purchase State Park off Arkansas Highway 49 in a swamp in the big middle of nowhere. The survey point was established in 1815.

Using only a compass and old-fashioned surveyors  “chains”, in 1815, surveyors Prospect K. Robbins and Joseph C. Brown established the starting point for surveying the Purchase. In 2002, anticipating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, government officials decided to resurvey the original point with GPS, lasers and all of the latest technology. They discovered that the original survey of 1815 was one inch off the mark. Pretty remarkable and there’s more. Find out how this story started and see more pictures on the Photo of Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there.

Louisiana Purchase State Park entrance


When Robbins and Brown were wandering around in this primal boondocks area, getting to the survey point required a lot of swamp wading. You can see the same sights today and never wet your feet in swamp juice. Arkansas’ Louisiana Purchase State Park features a nicely constructed and well maintained boardwalk from the parking lot right up to the original 1810 survey point.

Louisiana Purchase State Park board walk

As you walk toward the monument, you will see informative plaques explaining the park and how the Louisiana Purchase survey was undertaken in 1810. If you’ve ever looked at a swamp and wondered how it looked inside, your curiosity will be satisfied here. The easy way.

The Louisiana  Purchase State Park sits squarely in a large agricultural area. When the original survey was made, the area was covered with forests. In the 1800s the forests were logged and not replanted. Enterprising farmers began using the bare land to cultivate crops. Thus was born one of the major agricultural regions on the planet.

Trees inside the Louisiana Purchase State Park

A stroll down the Louisiana State Park boardwalk is a trip through a primal botanical garden. Bald cypress, water tupelo, swamp chestnut oak, and swamp cottonwood trees abound. If you get lucky, you might see a ‘gator. Other critters in the park include ‘possums, ‘coons and yes, snakes. Remember, if you don’t bother them they will not bother you.

One word of caution, should you decide to visit the park during spring, summer and early fall months, apply insect repellent (popularly known in these parts as “skeeter dope”), liberally to your person. Skeeters are part endemic to a swamp environment and they look on you as a good food source. The other critters in the swamp will probably see you before you see them, which means you probably will not see them.

Old farm house

Just a few miles northwest of the park on Arkansas Highway 39, I ran across this old home. It was no doubt served as housing for a farm worker’s family. Looking at the size of the house, probably a person who was a bit higher in the pecking order. The “screen porch” is a nice touch.

Adding insult to injury, the “home-place tree” for this place was apparently felled by a storm a good while back. The shady side of the house was a good place to be in hot summer weather. Less than a quarter mile from the old house was an abandoned service station. It’s the same story here as in other rural agricultural communities. The realities of the farm business ushered in equipment which took the place of manual labor. As the people left, the supporting businesses withered on the vine.

Old service station

The old station pumps no more. Progress for some is a step backwards for others. “Welcome to the world of American business, have a nice day.” And life goes on.

It was time to head south to home. I selected Arkansas Highway 17 to connect to good ol’ US 79 to make the trip. Where the two came together, late afternoon sun put some fine light on some old truck carcasses. Time to shoot.

old truck bodies

While these old truck components appear to be jettisoned to ignominy, I can guarantee you that they are merchandise for sale. Strategically dropped at the road junction, they are there for all to see. If your truck needs a hood or cab, you’ve found the place.

With a card full of images and a smile on my bewhiskered face, I headed south, happy as a fat pig in the sun. I hope you enjoy the images and comments.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Click here for our weekly high resolution gallery. See all the pictures we shot for the Corndancer and Weekly Grist stories in glorious high resolution, in black and white and color. Bigger and better. You’ll se some pictures we didn’t publish and can’t be seen anywhere else.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey


One Response

  1. […] the entire story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com, and see our original Weekly Grist post of June 20, 2010 for “the rest of the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: