ARKANSAS SUNK LANDS
July 10, 1899
The Dailey Northwesterner
Transcribed by : Tina Easley
Prairie Transformed Into a Series of Lakes In a Single Night
When people living in what is now the eastern part of Craighead, county.
Ark., went to bed one night in the latter part of December ,1811." said a former
resident of that nation. "they closed their eyes on one of the most beautiful
and fertile stretches of land that ever a man saw. The region was a series
rolling prairies, interspersed with heavy forests. The St. Francis river and its
twin sister, the Little river, wound through the prairies and around the
edges of the woods, which cast their shadows on the waters from high and
solid banks. When those residents looked out upon the prospect presented the
next morning , they must have been surprised.
In place of the rivers and. the rolling prairies vast lakes spread, away
Over the area. In places above the surface of the largest of those sheets of water
so suddenly brought into existence the tops of trees could be seen, but
others the woods had been entirely submerged.
The land for 120 miles up and down the river and for a width of proba-
bly 60 miles had sunk below the surface, and water had filled the great cavities
thus formed. The area thus wiped off the face of the earth came to be called
the Sunk lands, and that is its name today.
"Today. the entire area of , the Sunken lands is a chain of great cypress and
gum swamps, with here and there an extent of old prarie and a remnant of
ancient forest diversifying the landscape.
' The cypress grows luxuriantly in the lakes, while the gum trees and a species
of sycamore occupy the swamps. The trees are festooned with a massive
growth of parasitic vines and mosses. The valley is probably the most picturesque
stretch aquatic scenery in the entire south. Steamboats make their way
at a favorable season of the year in the tortuous course through the long an
narrow vistas beneath the overhanging and moss hungtrees, the rivers still retaining
their old names, the St. Francis being navigable from its mouth, near Helena , on the Mississippi
for 200 miles .
"To the canoeist the weird lakes of the Arkansas Sunk lands offer a paradise,
especially if he is a lover of sport with the rod and gun. They team with the
best game fish and swarm with wild fowl of the choicest species. In the gum
and sycamore- swamps the beaver, otter, mink, raccoon and 'possum are as abundant
today as they ever were anywhere. Black bass, southern bass, a rare a:
gamy speckled trout of unexcelled flavor, which grows to seven pounds in weight:
Sun perch, gar, the most enormous catfish and a fish known down there is the
silver sided perch give the angler who seeks the Sunk lands lakes such sport
he will never forgot. The silver sided perch I never saw anywhere else. It
the handsomest fish I ever looked at and is as gamy as a black bass. I caught one
of the catfish of those waters once that weighed 90 pounds. The old negro who
rowed my boat declared it was a leviathan of the deep , and it was a leviathan of the deep
and no mistake .
.If any one should ask me where to go fishing. I would send him down to the
Sunk lands by all odds. Those waters have one drawback perhaps to the
modern southern tourist there are no alligators there. But they've got the next best thing to them gars 11 feet long.
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