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Dardanelle Rock Natural Area, located in the Arkansas Valley, contains an exposure of Hartshorne sandstone that was folded into a synclinal (concave upward fold) structure when the Ouachita Mountains were formed and then breached through erosion by the Arkansas River to form a water gap. Dardanelle Rock has been a major landmark along the Arkansas River since the days of early Arkansas exploration. Parts of the outcrop are naturally devoid of vegetation; however, some slopes hold enough soil to support a forest of black oak, mockernut hickory, and shortleaf pine.There is a romantic "Legend of Dardanelle Rock" that relates the story of a Cherokee Indian chief named Dardanelle who was wounded in a fierce battle with the Choctaws and while recuperating, fell in love with a beautiful maiden named Leonietta.
They made a pact. He was to stand on Dardanelle Rock (a landmark for explorers and homeseekers who struggled up the river in the early days) at sunset, and she would wave her mantle to him as a signal that she would run away with him and become his bride. He waited on the rock for many hours, but for some reason she failed to make an appearance. He flung himself into the turbulent stream of the Arkansas River below. Thus Dardanelle Rock was named for him, and our chapter adopted this name.