By Rex Nelson ★ Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
I depart Glenwood on U.S. 70. After about four miles, I turn onto Arkansas 84 and continue west.
The route takes me across the northern part of Pike County. “In 1900, Martin White Greeson… started a campaign for a dam on the Little Missouri River to alleviate flooding.” Construction began on June 1, 1948, and finished on July 12, 1951. The lake was named Lake Greeson in honor of Martin Greeson.”
There’s not much traffic on Arkansas 84 as I pass through Lodi and Langley. At Langley, I head north on Arkansas 369 to check out the Albert Pike Recreation Area on the Little Missouri River. On June 11, 2010, a flash flood along the river killed 20 people as the river rose more than 20 feet in four hours. Dozens of campers were rescued by emergency workers. The U.S. Forest Service closed the campground and hasn’t allowed camping since the flood. In May 2012, portions of the site were reopened for day use. The Little Missouri begins in Polk County and flows to the southeast through Montgomery and Pike counties.
After walking around Albert Pike, I head back down Arkansas 369, take a right and continue west on Arkansas 84. I’m soon in the northeast corner of Howard County.
Arkansas 84 runs into U.S. 278 at Umpire. The Cossatot River begins southeast of Mena and flows south through Howard and Sevier counties before emptying into the Little River north of Ashdown. The upper part of the river is considered one of the top whitewater streams in this part of the country. Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area conserves a 12-mile section along the river. There are more than 30 rare plant and animal species in the park.
According to the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism: “The idea of establishing a natural area along the upper Cossatot surfaced in 1974, shortly after the Arkansas Environmental Preservation Commission was created. The panel later was renamed the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.
On Nov. 19, 1987, the state Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission held a joint meeting with the Natural Heritage Commission. Gov. Bill Clinton announced that day that the state had joined forces with the Conservancy to buy the land. The Nature Conservancy acquired title to 4,144 acres on Dec. 23, 1987. Management responsibility was transferred to the state in July 1988.
Senior Editor Rex Nelson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He’s also the author of the Southern Fried blog at rexnelsonsouthernfried.com.