On Oct. 17, the Mississippi River State Park in Marianna hosts the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase Land Survey at several locations that played important parts in this historic survey. The events take place from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
At the Mississippi River State Park visitor center, located at 2955 Hwy. 44 in Marianna, the Trotting Fox Trail will feature different “vignettes” portraying the different trades people that would have been found in a 1815 village, including a hunter and trapper camp, a family-friendly tavern where visitors can learn about what life was like for travelers, a blacksmith, a minister, and a rope maker. Information booths with representatives from the United States Daughters of 1812, the University of Arkansas at Monticello School of Forestry and Natural Resource, the Marianna/Lee County Chamber of Commerce, and the Arkansas Society of Professional Surveyors will all be available to provide information and answer questions. A food truck will also be at the visitors center, with hot dogs and hamburgers available for purchase.
At the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers, living historians will discuss 19th century surveying techniques that would have been used by Joseph Brown and Prospect Robbins. In addition, a keel boat with a living historian on board will explain the use of the period boat, and modern surveyors from Arkansas Society of Professional Surveyors will answer questions and offer comparisons of the Purchase survey and today’s surveying techniques.
At the U.S. Forest Service Base Line Trail, which will be officially dedicated on Oct. 17, interpreters will discuss the importance of the field journals the surveyors kept during the 1815 survey, and visitors can make their own journal, including descriptions of the land along the base line. The Base Line Trail is located on Lee County Road 217/ Forest Service Road 1900, seven miles north of West Helena.
At the Louisiana Purchase State Park near Brinkley, the 1922 resurvey and the 1926 dedication of the monument at the site will be reenacted.
The Arkansas Society of Professional Surveyors will have field journal cards available and the first 200 people who visit all four sites and have the card signed by the ASPS designee at each stop will receive a commemorative patch.