Nestled into the rocks which make up the Southeastern end of Petit Jean mountain, you will find the historically recognized grave of Petit Jean. The story is that a French explorer was engaged to a beautiful girl from Paris before he left on an expedition to the New World. She wanted to accompany him, but he refused and said they would be married upon his return. She disguised herself as a boy and got a position on his ship. She become known as Petit Jean (little John) to the crew. After traveling up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, they stopped at a beautiful mountain near the river, became friends with the natives, and spent a Summer there. All this time, no one knew she was the explorers fiancé. It was only after she became very ill and was approaching death that her identity was discovered. She again pledged her love to her fiancé, and asked to be buried at the top of the beautiful mountain. Her request was honored, giving name to her burial site.
Petit Jean State Park was the first state park in Arkansas. On land donated to the state, the CCC built roads, a lake, lodge, trails, and much more.
With not much more than a double bit axe and shovel, they constructed so much of the State and National parks we love. The only remnant of there facility at Petit Jean is this double fireplace; which they constructed for their recreation/mess hall.
But their work can be seen throughout the park.
We only spent the night there, so I didn’t get any pictures of the lodge, cabins, or trails. If you are ever in the area, do yourself a favor and visit this park. The scenery is awesome, and the campgrounds are very nice.
On to Gilbert……