Another strange creature
is also said to lurk within the White River outside Newport, Arkansas.
In fact, this legend is so widely accepted that the Arkansas
State Legislature created the White River Monster Refuge adjacent to the
Jacksonport State Park. Furthermore, the resolution made it illegal
to "molest, kill, trample, or harm the White River Monster while he is in
"Whitey” as the locals call him, has been sighted frolicking in the White
River for more than a century and a half. The creature was first spied by the Quapaw
Indians who once inhabited the area and the tale was passed down
from generation to generation. According to this first account, the
creature overturned a brave’s canoe before sinking back into the
depths of the river. During the days of the Civil War, Whitey
was accredited for overturning a loaded Confederate gunship.
The White River
Monster is described as snake-like, about thirty feet long with a
spiny backbone, and makes a loud bellowing noise. Most of the
many reports came from fisherman and campers along the White River. In 1924, a Little
Rock resident reported having seen the creature, further describing it
as having a dingy gray, crusted hide.
In 1937, a farmer
named Bramleltte Bateman who lived south of Newport proclaimed to have
seen the animal several times, saying: "The animal rises to the
surface in the late afternoons and floats or swims around 5 to 15
minutes with its head underwater.” Intending on capitalizing on
the sensation, Bateman soon set up a viewing area where he charged a
25˘ for a chance to see the monster, and also sold sandwiches and soft
drinks. Though business was brisk for a short time, no one else
ever saw the creature. In 1966, three people fishing also saw
Whitey, describing it as having a tail like a mermaid’s, a long body,
arm-like flippers and a head shaped like a monkey’s.
In 1971, two men reported that they saw
three-toed tracks along the muddy river banks, as well as in the trees
near the river. This same year, the monster was photographed by a man
by the name of Cloyce Warren of the White River Lumber Company.
Several other people that same year also claimed to have seen the sea
monster. These multiple accounts were enough to convince the Arkansas
State Legislature, who created the refuge two years later.
Though the furor persisted, at least one
biologists believed that the White River Monster was actually a lost
elephant seal who had somehow migrated out of its normal ocean habitat
up the Mississippi River and into the White River near Newport.
In the last several years the "sea
monster” hasn’t been spied but most of the locals believe that it is
still there. Others think that the creature died when the river became
In the meantime, Whitey has become
Newport’s local celebrity as his facsimile leads the Christmas Parade
every year and the legend has created a hubbub of souvenir shops, signs,
and other promotions in Newport. White River’s version of the Lock Ness
monster has also been documented in newspapers and books around the world
as well as in several television documentaries.
Newport, Arkansas is
located about ninety miles northeast of Little Rock on Highway 67.
World's Largest Spinach Can
Alma is the
self-proclaimed Spinach Capital of the World and commemorates this by
painting its water tower to be the "world's biggest can of spinach."
This company town for Popeye Brand Spinach, also celebrates its heritage
with an annual Spinach Festival each April that includes arts and crafts,
food vendors, a car show, entertainment and an Spinach Festival Talent
Continuing with the
theme, an eight foot statue of Popeye sits in front of City Hall, but
evidently not everyone on Alma is a hero like Popeye, cuz' the larger than
life sailor man was stolen here a few years back. But, alas, the
spinach obsessed character was found dumpster-diving at Walmart just a few
days later and has since returned to his perch.
spinach is your bag (or can, should we say,) Alma also offers outdoor
enthusiasts, opportunities to hike, bike, fish, camp, hunt and canoe at
nearby White Rock Mountain Recreation Area, Lake Fort Smith State Park and
Ozark Highlands Trail.
The town is located on
two major interstates, I-40 and I-540, and U.S. 71, which is part of the
Boston Mountain Scenic Loop. Alma is located in the Arkansas
River Valley about 15 miles from Fort Smith and at the foothills of the
Ozark Mountains and Fayetteville, which is about 45 miles away.
of America, updated April, 2017.