In east-central Arkansas, Stuttgart is the state's headquarters for rice farming. It's also great hunting and fishing territory, what with all the marshy land about. In fact, it claims the unusual title of Rice and Duck Capital of the World (which makes us hungry to visit). When you're passing through, stop to visit the rice mill, rice paddies, White River National Wildlife Refuge (turkey, deer, ducks) and the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum, which contains an extensive collection of artifacts about area life in the 1800s. The World Championship Duck Calling Contest takes place in Stuttgart each November.
South of Stuttgart on Highway 165, near the town of Gillett, you'll find the Arkansas Post National Memorial. Originally a French fort established in 1686, this was the first permanent settlement inhabited by Europeans in the Arkansas Valley. After changing hands from the French to the Spanish and back again, it finally became a U.S. outpost with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Rich in history, the area saw the founding of the Arkansas Gazette in 1819 (the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi until it was folded into the Arkansas Democrat several years ago) and a Civil War battle. 50 mi/80 km east of Little Rock.
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