Friday, April 23, 2010

The Emerald Boulder

Are you tired of hunting for all of that Spanish gold and silver? Maybe you are bored with the picturesque markers and clues they left behind. If so, you might try your hand at some frog treasure, French that is.

I have one more for you in Arkansas, just because I can. This one is a rumor that has been floating around since the 1700’s. It is said that the French officer, explorer and trader, Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe, the man who discovered the present day site of Little Rock, Arkansas was actually searching for a large emerald encrusted boulder when he staked his claim for the Frogs on Arkansas.

La Harpe definitely got around and did his share of exploring and trading. He is known to have been in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana during his explorations. In 1722 La Harpe left Louisiana on an expedition on the Red River. This trip took him into present day Arkansas and to the Arkansas River where he discovered “a short range of three steep hills, the first outcropping of rock the party had encountered since entering the Arkansas River. The outcropping was on the right bank of the river, ascending about 160 feet high (fifty meters) and veined with a very hard, marble-like stone; La Harpe also described a large waterfall and several fine slate quarries nearby. According to his journal, he named this point “Le Rocher Français” (“French Rock”) and took possession of it on April 9 by carving the coat of arms of the French king on a tree trunk on its summit.”

Now I’ve been to Arkansas in the summer and I just about got eaten alive by the June bug sized horse flies. As far as I’m concerned the frogs could have kept Arkansas and the horse flies but as the frogs would say, C’est la vie or, such is life.

Anyway, according to the story La Harpe was actually looking for a gigantic (something just a little smaller than gi-normous) boulder encrusted with emeralds. According to the legend, La Harpe had heard about the boulder from the local Indians and spent many months looking for it along the Arkansas River.

Much to his dismay, he never found the emerald encrusted boulder and in later years even denied looking for it. Does such a boulder exist? It could, there is almost always a little bit of truth in every legend.

Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a stroll along the river outside of Little Rock, preferably during the winter when the horse flies are gone!

1 comment:

Alice Thompson said...

I wonder if he was actually looking for peridot encrusted on basalt "lavarock". This is commonly found on the big island of Hawaii.