One hundred and fifty years ago this week, the Arkansas River was reported to be dangerously low to allow ease of maneuvering boats. A January 12, 1861 Arkansas newspaper notes the the Arkansas River had been receding for some time and that areas around Pine Bluff, located in the Arkansas River valley, had barely 10 feet of water: “The Chester Ashley, after unexampled efforts, for some three days, reached the city wharf on Thursday, where she will await a rise.”
The Arkansas State Gazette article goes on to note that other boats were having difficulty: “The Rose Douglas at Fourche Bar, heavily laden to get over. The S.H. Tucker is at Triplett’s Bar awaiting a rise.” This 1861 source concluded noting that either rain or snow was expected in the area over the next few days: “and probably enough may fall to make navigation comparatively easy.”
The latter of the steamboats mentioned, the S.H. Tucker, will be the subject of future articles in relation to the seizure of this boat by the armed citizens of Jefferson County, Arkansas in the Spring of 1861, catapulting Arkansas closer to War.
On the same day the above was printed, the Pine Bluff newspaper “The Jefferson Independant” was renamed “Pine Bluff News” after Mr. Douglass retired and sold the paper to A.E. Lee. The editor of the Arkansas State Gazette notes that “The paper is improved in its appearance.”