The word “Cavanal” is derived from a French word meaning “Cave.” It was a favorite mountain for the French and Indians one hundred fifty years ago. On the mountain’s eastern side is the site of the Historic Witteville Coal Mines. At the turn of the century orchards was established by Captain McKenna. Also, during the same period a Walter Beard, an early Mayor of Poteau operated a famous summer resort. Senator Kerr constructed a summer lodge at the site where the famous resort/hotel once stood. The Senator also planted pine seedlings on the mountain. At this time none of the above structures exist.
Thomas Nuttal of Boston became interested in the mountain in 1819 and spent time studying plant life, talking to Indians and French Trappers about the mountain and its wonders. The Indians told him that they heard rumbling noises from deep caves.
The first road up Cavanal was built by a Poteau man, Sam Sorrels, and the road followed almost the same route as the present one. Mr. Sorrels walked and showed the bulldozer operator where he wanted the road built. Six miles of scenic road leads to the top from the Highway 59/271. Once on top you will find a deep hand dug well that was sunk in, in the late 1800’s. Bluffs and lookout points give a clear view of two-thirds of Leflore County.