A Landing a Day

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Dardanelle, Arkansas

Posted by graywacke on July 18, 2009

First timer? In this (hopefully) once-a-day blog, I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan – I’m on quite the run; six of my last 11 landings have brought on a new record low Score. As you may have guessed, today’s landing is one of the six, as I landed in . . . AR; 24/30; 6/10; 12; 155.8.

For the third time in the last five landings, I have landed in the Arkansas R watershed, although it has been a different state each time: first OK, then CO and now AR. As you can see by my landing map, I landed quite close to the river (as I did far upstream in CO):


My landing map also shows that I landed near plenty of towns. A couple of simple crossroads (New Blaine & Delaware), actual small towns (London & Dardanelle), and a small city (Russellville). Maybe it’s the name, but I’ve decided to feature Dardanelle.

Here’s a broader view, featuring Dardanelle:


It turns out that the town of Dardanelle was actually named after Dardanelle Rock, located along the river just north of town. Here’s a picture of the rock:


Here’s an old woodcut (a very accurate likeness):

dardenelle rock woodcut

And here’s the view from the top, looking downriver towards the town of Dardanelle:

Dardenelle from the rock

So, the town got its name from the rock. How did the rock get its name? Check out this wonderful 1873 NY Times article (and make sure you take the time to read this carefully!):

dardenelle rock

I love it!! For those of you non-French speakers, “dors” means sleep, and “d’un oeil”  means “of one eye.”   Note that the NY Times misspelled “oeil!”  (Unless there was some strange 19th-century spelling, which I seriously doubt.)  Anyway, here’s how it would be pronounced (more or less):  door – deh – noiye.  The “l” in “oeil” is silent, so I don’t know how Dardanelle came out of this.

Anyway, the Dardanelles is mentioned in the article. For those of you who might not know, the Dardanelles is a strait (are straits????)  in Turkey, part of the waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea. Although the strait has nothing to do with the town or the rock, it’s an interesting historical location. Here’s a map, showing the Dardanelles in yellow and the Bosphorus in red:

the dardenelles

And, the following from Wiki:

The name Dardanelles derives from Dardania, an ancient land on the Asian shore of the strait.

The strait has long had a strategic role in history. The ancient city of Troy was located near the western entrance of the strait and the strait’s Asiatic shore was the focus of the Trojan War.

In 1915, the western Allies sent a massive invasion force of British, Indian, Australian, and New Zealander troops to attempt to open up the strait. At the Gallipoli campaign, Turkish troops trapped the Allies on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula (which juts out into the Mediterranean north of the Dardanelles).

The straits were mined by the Turks to prevent Allied ships from penetrating them. Sir Ian Hamilton’s Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was unsuccessful in its attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula, and its withdrawal was ordered in January 1916, after 10 months fighting and more than 200,000 casualties.

This protracted and unsuccessful attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula and the Dardanelles became the stuff of legend, and “passing the Dardanelles” became a metaphor for attempting the nearly impossible. Once again, from Wiki:

The University of Washington fight song Bow Down to Washington includes the lyrics “It’s harder to push them over the line than pass the Dardanelles.”

The Dardanelle Rock isn’t the only geologically significant locale nearby. Mt. Nebo is just a couple of miles west of the Dardanelle Rock (see the landing map). Here’s a foggy shot:

mt nebo1

And here’s a wonderful picture of Mt. Nebo from Lake Dardanelle:

mt nebo from lake dardanelle

Hang gliding is permitted at Mt. Nebo State Park (pat on the back to the State of Arkansas for allowing risk-taking on their property!)  Here’s a shot a hang glider just off the top of Mt. Nebo:

hang gliding mt nebo

Returning to the Middle East once again, it turns out that Mt. Nebo was named after a biblically-referenced Mt. Nebo in Jordan.  From Wiki:

Mount Nebo is an elevated ridge that is approximately 817 meters (2680 feet) above sea level, in what is now western Jordan. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan. The West Bank city of Jericho is usually visible from the summit, as is Jerusalem on a very clear day.

According to the final chapter of Deuteronomy, Mount Nebo is where the Hebrew prophet Moses was given a view of the promised land that God was giving to the Jews. “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho.” (Deuteronomy 34:1).

According to Jewish and Christian tradition, Moses was buried on this mountain.

Some people believe that the Ark of the Covenant (the container described in the Bible as containing the tablets of stone on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments) is hidden somewhere in or around Mt. Nebo. Second Maccabees, chapter 2, verses 1-8, mentions how the prophet Jeremiah, following a divine revelation, ordered that the ark should accompany him and how he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God’s inheritance [i.e. Mt. Nebo]. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the ark; then he blocked up the entrance.

Needless to say, inspite of some extensive searching, no one has found the Ark up on Mt. Nebo.

Here’s a picture of a church on Mt. Nebo that protects some excavated ruins up on the mountain:


This is a little cheap, but I’ll close with this great shot of yet another Mt. Nebo (in Utah):

Mt Nebo



© 2009 A Landing A Day

One Response to “Dardanelle, Arkansas”

  1. Ken said

    I’ve read Nuttall’s journal and have also looked at the 1859-60 Survey that included the Dardanelle Rock engraving, so it finding your blog about DR was interesting. I live in Russellville, on the N side of the AR River from Dardanelle, and have been on top of DR, where the one photo was made you included. The Govt’ elevation marker up on top is defaced (hard to believe, but true) and there are names, initials, dates, etc., carved into and painted onto the surfaces everywhere. If you check out a satellite view, you can see the “romantic block” Nuttall observed is still there, like in the 1859 engraving (sans bovines though) which is the same block I photographed and will send if you’d like to check it out.

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