Photographs of the
Arkansas River
by
Tamara Pittman Breckinridge
Much of this site is dedicated to displaying artifacts and
fossils from the Arkansas River and its tributaries.  
However, the river itself is a thing of great beauty and
interest; and as such deserves to be represented here as
well.  Prairie rivers, such as the Arkansas, Missouri, Platte,
Kansas, Blue, Republican and the Canadian, just to name a
few are very different from rivers on the west and east
coasts.  For one thing, they tend to have sandy bottoms
with intermittent gravel bars composed of colorful stones.  
Also, the river beds themselves are generally quite broad
with meandering channels snaking and braiding from bank
to bank
, especially in the more western prairies.  Of course,
after heavy rains they can fill up their beds quickly...prairie
rivers drain large flat areas.
Prairie river gravel bars
contain an astounding
variety of multicolored
rocks, fossils, artifacts both
ancient and modern...as
well as exotic and beautiful
plants and animals.
Spending time in the Arkansas River bed is like
travelling to a distant habitat .  It can be very windy and
exhibit temperature extremes.  In the winter it is often
ten to twenty degrees colder than the higher and drier
surrounding air.  In the summer it can be ten to twenty  
degrees hotter because the sand holds heat, there is no
shade and it is more humid.  Since our Oklahoma
summer temperatures are frequently over 100 degrees
that makes for a very inhospitable environment.  You
have to be highly motivated and in good physical
shape to withstand year-round river excursions.