In the lowlands of Arkansas lies the Gulf Coastal Plain. Covering south Arkansas, major communities are Texarkana, Arkadelphia, El Dorado, Monticello, parts of Pine Bluff and Little Rock. Sandy, rolling hills harbor pine trees and hardwood bottoms are found along rivers. Wildlife such as deer, beaver and wading birds are abundant.
Like the Ouachitas, the Coastal Plain's first inhabitants were the Caddo Indians. They lived in large villages in the river bottoms, where they had large fields to plant corn and gardens. The French were the first white settlers to arrive in the area. Place names such as Smackover and Cossatot are their legacies. Washington, an important town during the early 1800s, was settled on the Southwest Trail, a road that started at St. Louis, Missouri, and cut down in a southwesterly pattern until it reached Texas. Washington was a major center of trade and information until the 1870s. Today, it is a state park as well as a town.
The railroads of the late 1800s made a large impact on the Coastal Plain. Timber companies stripped the land but saw that the forests could be reproduced. This is called sustained-yield production. Oil and gas booms brought wealth to communities like Smackover and El Dorado. Gravel and bauxite were mined, as well as diamonds near Murfreesboro. Because of changes in the forest, some species of animals that were native to the region such as the red-cockaded woodpecker are now endangered species.
Visitors to the Gulf Coastal Plain can enjoy beautiful scenery, historic sites like Old Washington and the Oil and Brine Museum at Smackover, quaint communities like Hope and Magnolia, and dig for precious stones at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. The Gulf Coastal Plain is also home to some major corporations of the forest products industry.
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