and the Louisiana Purchase
a journey to a land that was more wilderness than western
civilization; a land where major settlements were Poke
Bayou, Davidsonville, and Arkansas Post; a land where
rivers were the roads; a land where bear, deer, raccoon,
beaver, alligators, and otters outnumbered the humans;
a land where the greeting was just as likely to be "Bonjour"
as "Good Day." Surveyors called it a land
of "briers and swamps and briers aplenty!"
from this point. This was the first major survey west
of the Mississippi River to employ the rectangular survey
or grid system set out in the Land Ordinance of 1785.
to Arkansas - where the journey to the West began.
The initial point for all official surveys of the
vast Louisiana Territory is located in a headwater
swamp at the corners of what became Lee, Monroe,
and Phillips counties in Arkansas. From this initial
point, surveyors began their work of chains and
compasses. Every legal description of the lands
contained in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 depended
President Thomas Jefferson
commissioned two explorers, William Dunbar and George
Hunter, to explore and document the southern portion
of the Purchase lands. Much of their journey through
Arkansas was along the Ouachita River. Their northern
counterparts were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
the survey of the Louisiana Territory, lands west
of the Mississippi could not have been given to
veterans of the War of 1812. Without the survey,
there could have been no land sales to pioneer farmers
and town-builders. Without the survey, Native American
history would be far different. The Louisiana Purchase,
surveyed from a swamp near modern Brinkley, Arkansas,
helped shape the United States.
the survey's starting place is a National Historic Landmark,
an Arkansas Natural Area and an Arkansas State Park.
During the Arkansas Bicentennial Commemoration of the
Louisiana Purchase in 2003, civic groups across the
state will remember - through community events, museum
exhibits, school programs, and many other activities
- that Arkansas is where the journey began.
this site often to learn more about our state's plans
and how everyone can be a part of the Commemoration.