Notable environmental features in some historical aerial photographs from Ashley Country, Arkansas
A collection of 1939 aerial photographs from Ashley County, Arkansas was analyzed for its environmental information. Taken by the US Department of Defense (USDOD), these images show a number of features now either obscured or completely eliminated over the passage of time. One notable feature is the widespread coverage of "sand blows" in the eastern quarter of the county, suggesting a major soil liquefaction field consistent with strong seismic activity (magnitude ~ 6.0 on the Richter Scale). Also seen in these photographs are the vestiges of the large prairies once found on the Pleistocene terraces of southern and eastern Arkansas. The former extent of these prairies can be clearly discerned, as can the encroachment of surrounding forests. Numerous "prairie mounds" are also visible across much of the county, especially in areas cleared for agriculture. Final1y, nearly 15,000 contiguous hectares of virgin bottomland hardwoods along the Saline and Ouachita rivers are still apparent, which may have sheltered Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers in the 1930s. This work illustrates the value of old aerial photographs in the description of historical features by providing a snapshot of conditions that can help us understand present and future landscapes.