A Worthy Challenge
And the 927-acre spread he bought atop Petit Jean Mountain provided ample opportunities to do exactly that. Rockefeller promptly set about turning the half-wild sprawl into a model cattle farm, pumping water 850 feet up the mountainside from the Arkansas River below; building lakes, roads, and an airstrip; and building and rebuilding structure after structure.
But he soon learned that the need for change didn't end at the borders of his property. At the time, Arkansas was mired in what Time magazine called a "dead-end economic and political condition." Jobs were few, wages were low, the schools were poor, and health and dental care were hard to come by. A one-party political system, plagued by persistent corruption, didn't help.
In this situation, Rockefeller found what he had looked for all his life: a worthy challenge. He threw himself into the task of improving the quality of life in Arkansas with feverish energy and purpose, spending not only vast amounts of energy, but also vast amounts of his personal fortune. "Win found himself in Arkansas," his brother Nelson, at the time governor of New York, said later. His brother David, president of Chase Manhattan, said, "It was just what he wanted and needed."
With the means and the freedom to live virtually anywhere in the world he wished and to do virtually anything that struck his fancy — including enjoying a life of luxury and privilege — Rockefeller chose to put down roots in Arkansas, which at the time had arguably the lowest standard of living in the United States, and devote himself completely to making it a better place.