The United States government established a trading house at Arkansas Post in 1805 on the north bank of the Arkansas River in the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. The goal of this trading house was to foster good relations with the Quapaw tribe and other indigenous peoples. John B. Treat and his successors operated the post and meticulously recorded the number, value, and species of pelts traded. Tabulation of these records, which have been preserved in the National Archives, revealed that 9 or 10 species contributed a total of about 44,000 hides, worth approximately $18,000. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) pelts comprised the largest volume and percentage (83%) of the total value of the fur harvest, and black bear (Ursus americanus) was second largest in both categories. Because these two species were also prized for their meat and lard, they were primary targets of hunters. Although the river otter (Lutra canadensis) and beaver (Castor canadensis) compromised only a small fraction of the total fur harvest, their pelts brought the highest prices. The raccoon (Procyon lotor) had one of the lowest-priced pelts, but more of its pelts were harvested than for the otter and beaver combined. Bobcat (Lynxrufus), fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus and/or Vulpes vulpes), mountain lion (Felis concolor), and red wolf (Cam's rufus) made up the remainder of the total harvest. Competition from private entrepreneurs, political opposition, and a slump in the international fur market forced the Arkansas Post to liquidate its assets and close in 1810. The lesson from this period underscores the needs to properly handle furs, limit harvest season, and establish stable fur markets.
Polechla, Paul J. Jr.
"Fur Trade Records from Arkansas Factory, Arkansas Post, Louisiana Territory, 1805-1810,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 41
, Article 19.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol41/iss1/19