Rivers were the first highways in America, and the Powhatan townsite was originally chosen because of its favorable location along the Black River.
The Black River and I have something in common. We both can trace our beginnings to St. Francois County, Missouri. I was born there in 1945, but the Black River goes back much further in time.
From the St. Francois Mountains the Black flows south by southwest through the Mark Twain National Forest into Arkansas south of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. From there, the river flows through Clay, Randolph and Lawrence Counties. It empties into the White River at Jacksonport, in Independence County. The Black River is a major contributor to the White River system, The Black collects and carries the waters of the Current, Eleven Point, Spring, South Fork of the Spring and Strawberry Rivers, as well as from many creeks and springs it collects along its way.
The Black River is no longer used for commercial transportation, but is still popular with boaters, fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
On a rocky outcrop in front of the Powhatan Courthouse is this simple monument which was erected in 1936 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the state of Arkansas. When Lawrence County was established in 1815 it was one of only two counties in the entire territory of Arkansas. The county predates the establishment of the state itself by 21 years.
The inscription reads:
1836 - 1936
1815 - 1936
Note that Arkansas then called itself the "Wonder State." Today promoters of Arkansas refer to it is the "Natural State." Arkansas has had several other nicknames including "Land of Opportunity" and the "Diamond State," because Arkansas is the only place in North America where diamonds are produced.
I had to walk past the Powhatan United Methodist Church on my way from the State Park to the Post Office. The church was established in 1850 and the current structure was built in 1874.
It was interesting to walk around the old church and to learn that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I also took note of the fact that the church has a single Sunday morning service at 8:30 a.m., which is much earlier than the traditional morning worship time for most Protestant churches. This indicates that the small congregation is served by a minister who has a circuit of more than one congregation or "charge." This is a very common practice among Methodists, especially in rural areas which cannot support a full-time pastor.