Thursday, August 27, 2009


Petit Jean Mountain is worth a trip

When I was a college student I had the opportunity to work for Winthrop Rockefeller who had build a beautiful home, ranch, and air trip atop one of the most popular sites in Arkansas.

My job was to escort visitors across the grounds and in the home until to many items was being picked up for souvenirs, etc.

At that time, he had not gotten into politics (He was later the governor), but before that had influenced so many industries to settle in the state. During his tenure he brought many to investigate the possibly there.

It was not known why he chose the mountain to build his properties on, but having been raised about 35 miles from there, I could understand how a person from the big city life of New York City would be enamored by such a place.

Because Petit Jean Mountain is a special place – an unforgettable place – known for the legend of Petit Jean, the story of a French girl who disguised herself as a boy and secretly accompanied her sweetheart, an early explorer, to the New World and to this mountain.

Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas’s first and flagship state park enhances this over 300–year–old legend with windswept views, enchanting woodlands laced with streams and wildflowers, and a spectacular 95-foot waterfall called “Cedar Falls” that is fed by a 100-acre lakem, a reservoir contributed into by small creeks. Lake Bailey is also a popular place for pedal-boating and fishing. Tennis and basketball courts, swimming pool, and picnic areas are available for the use of park guests.

The scenic overlook at Petit Jean's grave, which is just to the right as you just finish the grade up to the mountain, provides a spectacular view of the Arkansas River Valley and is worth the short walk.

To those who would like to know more about this unique place read Dr. Lee W. Woodard’s book entitled, "Petit Jean's Mountain: The Origin of the Legend." He provides many historical evidences that suggest that the old glamorized oral legends about "Petit Jean" (an assumed or nickname) are traceable to known historical records about the drowning of a young French Noble variously called De Marne or De Marle. This youth drowned while bathing in the Arkansas river on Saint Jean Baptiste Day, June 24, 1687, while fleeing with six other survivors of horrendous assassinations and murders involved with Robert Cavelier De La Salle's tragic French Colonization attempt during 1684-1687. This young French noble's tragic death and burial were described by two French companions, Father Anastase Douay (who was an officiate at the burial) and a French soldier named Henri Joutel. Woodard's is the first book by a doctoral level historian to identify the actual tragic events and the actual death and burial connected with old Arkansas Oral Legends of Petit Jean.

I seldom go to my home area without thinking about this place of my past or taking the short trip to revisit. The Museum of Automobiles (build since my employment up there) is less than a mile from the main camping areas near the Rockefeller farm and home.

But often it is the dreams of home that attract me most.

“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” - Hebrews 11:16

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