Students map out early Arkansas explorer's path

(Source: Cave City Butler Project)
(Source: Cave City Butler Project)
(Source: Cave City Butler Project)
(Source: Cave City Butler Project)

CAVE CITY, AR (KAIT) - A group of Cave City students was tasked with exploring parts of early Arkansas to compile a project for the Butler Center in Little Rock that will be used to celebrate Arkansas' Territorial Bicentennial in 2019.

The group of five high school students mapped out the path that an explorer named Henry Schoolcraft took through the Arkansas Territory in the early 1800s.

The group is set to present their project at the Butler Center on Friday.

"Literally when they told us that we were going to go on a little expedition the child inside of me was like, 'I'm getting to miss school to go on an expedition,'" Cave City graduate RaLynnda March said. "It was amazing."

March took a media production class at Cave City High School, so she was tasked with recording videos of the relevant areas Schoolcraft visited and putting together a documentary about his life and explorations.

One of their advisers, Dr. Blake Perkins, was able to show the students around his family's farm, which the explorer would have traveled through during the 19th century.

"It's so cool to think that we're in the middle of a farm but yet then it wasn't a farm," March said. "It was a place where there was a civilization there. He even showed us where in the backwoods, the part I guess they just use for hunting, that was a highway they traveled. It was so cool. It was like a culture shock. It's something we really don't see as much but back then it was a big deal. It was a big location where people went."

The five students, who all say they are very interested in studying history, got to explore and document the places that Schoolcraft likely crossed the Strawberry, Elven Point, and Spring Rivers.

They did extensive research and used Schoolcraft's journal entries to decipher the path he took.

"My job was kind of the flora and the fauna," said Cave City senior Curt Jones. "I was noting I guess the wildlife and what was then and now and the flora, the plants, and trees. I'm pretty good with stuff like that so that was my job."

Jones said there was no question he would participate in the project when he was asked by principal Mark Walling.

He said it brought together his loves for history and nature.

"Hands-on learning is the best way to learn," Jones said. "There's no other way like it. You get to get down and dirty. You get to go out and see things that were there and once used and how time has changed it."

You can see all of the students' work compiled on their website by clicking here.

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