In the neighborhood of 1876


This opld barn

This old barn is at the corner of Arkansas Highway 366 and Elm Road near Roe, Arkansas.

Those who know about this old barn agree that it is at least 133 years old and probably a bit older than that. The barn is on Arkansas Highway 366 near Roe, Arkansas. The story of this barn started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer Dot Com. To see how it started,  with two additional pictures (count ‘em, 2), click here to proceed to the photo of the week page, a very cool thing to do.

The barn fell from use when the farm upon which it stands changed hands in 2004. That it remained in use for more than 128 years is probably why it is in the good, but deteriorating condition we find today. Certainly, at that age, the barn was originally built to provide stall space for the farm mule herd. “Adaptive re-use” by subsequent owners required interior modifications, some of which you see below.

These storage rooms in the barn are a post-mule era addition. The area above the rooms provides a home for a nice sized barn owl.

These storage rooms in the barn are a post-mule era addition. The area above the rooms provides a home for a nice sized barn owl.

Finding the barn was on a whim, which was on a route determined by a previous whim. Sometimes I believe our whims are weighted to our experiences, and I believe this was the case on discovering the old barn. Earlier, a bit to the south in Arkansas County, north of Stuttgart AR, I turned on to Arkansas Highway on the aforementioned “previous whim.” As a result, I ran across the crop duster airstrip below.

The curved top structure you see is at the north end of the runway and not far above waist high to me, at 6'-3."

The curved top structure you see is at the north end of the runway and not far above waist high to me, at 6'-3." You just don't see this sort of thing often. Ever?

There may be a far-fetched explanation. The little building looks a bit governmental, perhaps even somewhat 40’s era military, which gives rise to the explanation. At nearby Stuttgart, Arkansas, there was a US Army Air Corps training facility. I’m betting that in an earlier permutation, this was an ancillary strip to that base. The building, under those circumstances would have held a few spare parts, fuel and oil. Maybe some contraband elixirs as well. In the absence of other explanations, that one will have to do.

December 17, 2010 – It was recently revealed to me that there were a number of these small strips with these mystery structures scattered around Arkansas County. They were a part of the Air Corps training base. The small buildings held radio direction finder transmitters to which the fledgling pilots navigated. When the installations were in use there was also an antenna about the size of a baseball backstop that was a part of the facility. My friend Don Martin provided this historical tidbit.

By then, my stomach was telling me it was time to take on nourishment. With any kind of luck, a country store with a talented sandwich maker would soon materialize and sho-nuff, in short-order, I wheeled into Cascoe, Arkansas, home of Cloud’s Grocery.

Clouds Grocery at Cascoe, Arkansas is a fine stop for sandwiches.

Clouds Grocery at Cascoe, Arkansas is a fine stop for sandwiches.

I did not bother to read the sign informing the general public that Clouds Grocery was a indeed a purveyor of sandwiches. That’s probably why I garnered the quizzical look from the proprietor when I made the sandwich inquiry. Like most country stores, asking for wheat bread is an exercise in futility. That aside, the two-fisted ham and turkey sandwich I got was running over with the meats,  plus lettuce, onions, pickles and tomatoes. It was a masterpiece. I wolfed it down and now I was well fortified for the next whim, which resulted in discovering the barn.

After the barn, on another whim, I sallied forth up US Highway 79 to Clarendon, Arkansas. The good folks at Clarendon saw fit to keep the old Merchants and Planters Bank building in good condition. It is now their visitor center. Since it was Sunday afternoon late, the doors were locked. A return trip during business hours is a must. Clarendon was like a lot of other small communities with a strongly weighted agricultural economy. They had a “Merchants and Planters Bank.” There must have been a jillion M&Ps  in the south, many of which of which are now decaying wrecks. Not so in Clarendon.

M7P

The nicely preserved and still-in-use Merchants and Planters Bank building in Clarendon AR. Good job folks!

A One-eighty

Less than six weeks ago, we were griping about too much rain.

Less than six weeks ago, we were griping about too much rain.

Those of you who read these epistles on a regular basis will probably remember my laments regarding overkill in our seemingly endless spring rains. Take a look above. The problem has done a 180. The tractor operator is preparing a seed bed for imminent planting. Soybeans are probably what will be planted. The earlier rains prevented many farmers from planting their beans. Now there is a sense of urgency. Not so at the barn.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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5 Responses

  1. Good eyes on the government structure with the airport. Seems like a scene for Mulner and Scully (X-Files).

    Question about barn designs. why the tall peaks?

    Congrats on finding another sandwich treasure at a general store. You have the eye!

  2. Frank, the best I can tell, the older barns were built with maximum loft space which was used to store hay. Look at the top of the right hand side of the part and you will see a small overhang on the roof. This was the business end of an overhead trolley system which used a block and tackle to lift hay to the loft. The trolley ran the length of the loft.

    The little building does look a bit sinister.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  3. Thanks to my friend, Don Martin, we now know the original purpose of the bunker at the airstrip. It was indeed associated with the Air Corps training facility at Stuttgart. It was not meant for storage. It housed radio direction equipment and, according to Don, when in use there was also an antenna about the size of a baseball backstop that was a part of the installation. He says there were a number of them in the general area.
    Thanks,
    Jioe.

  4. Ah ha … Don is seems to be confirming a front to a grander operation. I wonder about the vast space below. Hmmmm … lol

  5. I still think probably there was at least some contraband also stored there. The pilots would take off from Stuttgart and then use the RDF to find the location and land there.
    J.

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