QUARTERLY, Volume 4 (Spring 1945), p.
OIL AND GAS IN SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS
- President Thomas Jefferson sent a company of explorers, scientists,
and military men up the Ouachita River in 1804 to inspect the land which
the United States recently acquired from France. They went as far as Hot
Springs, whose fame had even then reached across the wilderness, and found
many things of interest to report. Many resources of the region were noted.
Among them were such items as salt springs and whetstones---then economic
resources of truly great importance.
- Shortly after crossing the thirty-third parallel, where the Spanish
moss hanging from the cypress trees suddenly thinned and disappeared, they
passed the confluence of the stream which the French before them had called
Chemin Covert---The Covered Way---because the branches from the
trees that lined the banks on either side met above the center and covered
the entire stream with a canopy of green. The name has come down across
the years, but it has been changed in spelling as well as in meaning. The
English in a futile attempt to pronounce the name called the stream "Smackover."
- Today, however, the name "Smackover" is not remembered for
the fertile soil of its hinterland, nor for its fish and game, nor for
any of the other resources reported on so favorably by the early explorers.
Its fame is now associated with the great oil and gas fields which line
its banks and enrich its watershed, and also with the Arkansas town of
Smackover which became noted for its boom days in an early oil field development.