Louisiana Purchase State Park Re-opens in time for Bicentennial Celebration

Article follows the photos:
Louisiana Purchase State Park
Louisiana Purchase State Park
Louisiana Purchase State Park re-enactment
Louisiana Purchase State Park re-enactment
February 21, 2003


Louisiana Purchase State Park
Re-opens in time for Bicentennial Celebration

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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

BRINKLEY -- After being closed since September for renovations of its aging 950-foot boardwalk, the Louisiana Purchase State Park reopened Feb. 5. An Arkansas State Parks construction crew made the improvements to the boardwalk, which was built in the late 1970s. Arkansas State Parks Director Greg Butts said cost of materials for the renovation project to date is estimated at $38,600, which includes more than $15,600 in items donated by Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies, Inc. The donated materials were manufactured from a blend of recycled plastics and wood fibers. According to Butts, this makes the boards more durable and virtually waterproof and should mean the structure will be better suited for its swampy surroundings.

The renovation project also calls for new wayside exhibit panels and benches along the boardwalk, which should be in place this spring.

Butts said more than $35,000 in federal funds provided to the Arkansas Recreational Trails Program, which is administered by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, is being used for the project. Through Amendment 75 funding -- the 1/8-cent Conservation Tax passed by Arkansas voters in 1996 -- the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is providing $8,880 for the renovations. Overall cost of the project is estimated at $44,400, Butts said.

About the Purchase and Park

The elevated, barrier-free walkway leads through the park's fascinating headwater swamp and to a granite monument that marks the initial point for surveys of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Along the route, the new informational panels will relate the story of the Louisiana Purchase, the survey and the swamp.

On April 30, 1803, the United States committed to pay France $15 million for land that would double the size of the fledgling nation. Twelve years later, President James Madison ordered an official survey of the purchase area. On Oct. 27, 1815, a survey party headed north from the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers to establish a north-south line to be known as the Fifth Principal Meridian. The same day, a party departed westward from the junction of the St. Francis River and the Mississippi to establish an east-west line, known as a baseline. The crossing of the two lines would be the initial point from which future surveys would originate.

Both the meridian and the baseline would later be extended, and land surveys for all or parts of the Louisiana Purchase states west of the Mississippi would subsequently be measured from the point in eastern Arkansas.

The site went unheralded for more than a century until, in 1921, two surveyors discovered the trees marked by the initial surveyors. Realizing the significance of the find, the L'Anguille Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in nearby Marianna placed a monument on the site in 1926.

The granite marker reads in part: "This stone marks the base established Nov. 10, 1815, from which the lands of the Louisiana Purchase were surveyed by United States engineers."

The headwater swamp in which the monument is located is representative of the swamplands that were common in eastern Arkansas before the vast bottomlands were drained and cleared for farming and commercial purposes.

The 36-acre park lies at the end of Ark. 362 two miles east from U.S. 49 about 19 miles southeast of Brinkley. It has no camping facilities, restrooms or on-site staff. For more information, call 1-888-AT-PARKS or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"