Falling Water and neighbors


Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek east of Ben Hur, Arkansas which is east of Pelsor, Arkansas is one of the best swimming holes you'll ever find

Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek east of Ben Hur and  Pelsor, Arkansas is one of the best swimming holes you’ll ever find.

Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek, east of Ben Hur and Pelsor, Arkansas has a lot going for it as a water fall. Though it may become a bit skinny in late summer months, it is for the most part an active waterfall twelve months of the year. You must bump along several miles of gravel road to arrive at Falling Water, but once you are there, you do not have to leave your vehicle to see the falls. But everyone gets out and looks. Falling Water has its own sound, a symphonic rumble and rustle which resounds from the rocks and rivets your undivided attention. For a bit over twenty years, I’ve watched folks become mesmerized by the falls siren song. Me included.

Another picture of Falling Water

This wet and wild story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see another picture of Falling Water and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Pelsor. Arkansas

Hankins Country Store is alive and well at Pelsor. Yipee!!

The Hankins Country Store at Pelsor when it was open

Unless you are approaching from the east, you will go through Pelsor, Arkansas, where Arkansas Highways 7, 16,  and 123 meet. There’s a post office, a store and a couple of residences at Pelsor and not much more. But you must consider this little place as the epicenter of a phenomenal collection of natures finest attractions. Within about a 12-15 mile radius, you’ll find numerous mountain streams and waterfalls. You’ll also find Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area, an area of nature’s mega sculptures; and Rotary-Ann overlook, one of the finest Ozarks overlooks.

You’ll also find the newly reopened  Hankins Country Store, est. 1922. Hankins was the de rigueur stop for bikers, hunters, hikers and yes, itinerant photographers until it was closed a few years ago. It was like the death of an old friend.

Haw Creek Falls

Haw Creek Falls at Haw Creek National Campground, Hwy. 123 southeast of Pelsor, Arkansas.

Haw Creek Falls at Haw Creek National Campground, Hwy. 123 southeast of Pelsor, Arkansas. The easily accessible campground attracts visitors far and wide.

Southeast of Pelsor, you’ll find Haw Creek Falls National Campground. Like Falling Water, Haw Creek falls are easy to access. The falls are just a few steps from the entrance road to the camp grounds. The water level of the falls is a bit on the low side in the picture above. Take a look at Haw Creek Falls with substantially more water here.

Illinois Bayou

Illinois Bayou north of the Victor Road bridge, east of Arkansas Highway 7.

Illinois Bayou falls north of the Victor Road bridge, east of Arkansas Highway 7.

Scoot down Highway 7 from Pelsor to Victor Road, turn left and travel east until you cross Illinois Bayou on a remote bridge. The gravel road has a number of switchbacks and the trip through this mountainous area is worth the effort. Currently, watch for log trucks. The loggers are cleaning up after last winters devastating ice store. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle, take the third left road past the bridge and go until you see these falls on your left. I’ve never checked the odometer and it seems like it takes forever. You ford one small creek and slither through a long mud hole that never seems to dry up, even late in the summer. A different view of this waterfall was the featured cover photo of an annual report for Bank of the Ozarks.

Brock Cemetery

The grave of Victory B. Keithley, died September 11, 1855 at the age of seven years, two months and 22 days.

The grave of Victory B. Keithley, died September 11, 1855 at the age of seven years, two months and 22 days.

On the way to Illinois Bayou as you round a curve, you see a sign emblazoned with “Brock Cemetery,” and a right pointing arrow. I first visited the cemetery in 1990 and have visited and shot there off and on since then. The road to the cemetery from Victor Road is very steep. You keep your foot on the brakes most of the way down.

In the mid-nineties, I ventured down the road and met one of the caretakers of the cemetery, a Mr. Prince who lived on Victor Road, east of the Illinois Bayou bridge. Mr. Prince was like his name, a gentleman of the first order. I asked him if he knew the story behind the unusual grave in the picture. He said he did and revealed it to me. Victory B. Keithley, daughter of a family headed west by wagon through this valley, took sick and died at the site of this cemetery. The family buried Victory in the grave you see above. After the burial, the family went northeast to Batesville, Arkansas and had the large stones hewed and marker made. The straight line map distance from the cemetery to Batesville is in the neighborhood of 70 miles.  So one could easily add 25 to 30% for curves, nooks crannies and detours. Once the stones were ready, the Keithly family returned to Victory’s grave and finished their job.

That was 154 years ago. Once the first grave was there, the site became a community cemetery and has been ever since. The small stones you see in the background behind the Victory B. Keithley grave are graves of loved ones whose families could afford nothing fancier. The times and people were tough.

Brock Cemetery is actively used and is maintained by members of the community. The sign at the cemetery notifies the reader that the annual cleanup day is the second Saturday in June.

Brock Cemetery is actively used and is maintained by members of the community. The sign at the cemetery notifies the reader that the annual cleanup day is the second Saturday in June.

West of the cemetery

Leading west from the cemetery is a primitive road that is not much better than a trail. Conditions such as these are like dangling bait in front of a an off road equipped pick up owner, virtually irrestible. The road did not improve with length. After negotiating some dry creek beds and fording a small stream, no more than a foot or foot and a half deep (enough to make a very satisfying splash), I came to an unfordable stream. I dismounted and heard the siren sound of rushing water in the distance. I turned to the sounds and walked down a primitive road which doubles as an overflow creek bed and parallels the stream. After about 75 yards, I decided to check out the banks of the bayou or creek, which ever. Fortunately, the banks were no more than 15 yards or so from the road with a minimum of stickers to negotiate to get there.

After squeaking through some broken limbs (recent violent floods you know), I made it to the bank and listened. I could hear the rushing of the water. Wretchedly, it was coming from around a bend.  After dragging wait-a-minute vines, stumbling over grapefruit size rocks and a short ankle-deep wade, about 25 yards later, I rounded the bend and what to my wondering eyes should appear but some white water and its resultant boondocks symphony.

A large rock helps create some white water and the gurgling, rushing souncs that go with it. Candy for the eyes and ears.

A large rock helps create some white water and the gurgling, rushing sounds that go with it. Candy for the eyes and ears. Campers would possibly fight over a place like this.

Just upstream, two branches of the same stream or a couple of different creeks come together over a bed of rocks and gravel. White water and more gurgling. It is a pristine site with natural sound effects.

Just upstream, two branches of the same stream or a couple of different creeks come together over a bed of rocks and gravel. White water and more gurgling. It is a pristine site with natural sound effects. Well worth the short hike.

Every picture you’ve seen here and at Corndancer, save the store image, was shot between 08:30 and 17:30 on May 29, year of our Lord. 2009; all within no more than 10 or 15 miles from the dead center of Pelsor, Arkansas. Not bad for a place whose population struggles to make it into the teens. Just to serves to jerk our chains and remind us of a couple of proven concepts, to wit: Bigger ain’t necessarily better, and left alone, Mother Nature can conjure up some cool stuff. There is a price to pay to see Her stuff in the form of bumps, bruises, scratches, sweat and a nibble or two from honery insects, but it’s worth it. And probably more.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

Meandering through Louisiana and Arkansas (north and south respectively)


It's best days behind it, this old service station in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Its best days behind it, this old service station at First and Onyx streets in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Regular or ethyl?

If you are long of tooth, you can remember this genre of service station. If you are not long of tooth, this is a part of your forebearers’ culture. The station had only two pumps, one for regular, one for ethyl gasoline. The concrete floors were permanently lubricated with years of ground-in grease and oil. The odor was of oil and anti-freeze. The operators filled your vehicle with gas, checked your oil and coolant and wiped your windshield. The only snacks available were allegedly cold Cokes and nickel sacks of Tom’s peanuts. This old station has apparently seen a few attempts at re-birth only to arrive at this state of affairs. That it has survived this long is a testimonial to its sturdy beginnings. It served well.

This tale of a trip started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, the subject of which is the town of Athens, Louisiana. While Athens, like a lot of small towns has taken its licks, the people are resilient. See the pictures and read the story, a cool thing to do.

Remembering what’s important

Remembrance and respect knows no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented.

Remembrance and respect know no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented. Only less noticed by the crowds.

Spring Hill Community Cemetery is well cared for and well decked out with flags commemorating Memorial Day. This cemetery in Ouachita County, Arkansas will never make the six o’clock news or the front page above the fold. The families of those here interred could care less. They continue to accept and keep their responsibilities, just as their parents and grandparents before them because it is the right thing to do.

Barn with tartan

This barner is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

This barn is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

Somehow, you simply do not expect to see a barn with a tartan designed roof. Even less so in north Louisiana. East of Minden LA, the barn is at the entrance to Scotland Farms of Louisiana, breeders of registered highland cattle according to the entrance sign.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

PS: As you can see, I don’t make this stuff up. :o))

The best of times for BLT lovers


These tiny yellow blossoms are the beginnings of a plump, juicy home grown tomatoes. They will make a BLT you won't believe.

These tiny yellow blossoms are the beginnings of plump, juicy home grown tomatoes. They will make a BLT you won't believe. These are back-yard blooms.

After a tortuous winter of choking down mushy,  flat-tasting red blobs erroneously identified as tomatoes, the advent of Arkansas home-grown tomatoes is a time to celebrate. Even then, the four month wait from tiny tomato bloom to a big bad bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich  is an agonizingly long wait, testing the patience of  determined BLT lovers. This glory story for tomato aficionados started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. See those pictures and grab some tomato lore by clicking here, a very cool thing to do.

Progress in the back yard. Blooms and big brothers (sisters?) Someone set me straight.

Progress in the back yard. Blooms and big brothers (sisters?) Someone set me straight.

While the backyard plants you see above are puttering along, there are some serious tomatoes nearing market readiness near Hermitage, Arkansas, the tomato epi-center of Bradley County, Arkansas, legendary for the tasty tomatoes grown within its borders. The field you see below belongs to Randy Clanton of Hermitage, a second generation tomato farmer who knows his stuff.

One of Randy Clanton's tomato fields near Hermitage, Arkansas. Randy, a second-generation tomato farmer is reknowned for producing tomatoes that tast good.

One of Randy Clanton's tomato fields near Hermitage, Arkansas. Randy, a second-generation tomato farmer is renowned for producing tomatoes that taste good.

Although not visible until you move some leaves around, Randy Clanton’s robust plants you see above are full of tomatoes about three weeks away from harvest. Take a glimpse at the camouflaged tomatoes here.

Tomato onslaught

For several weeks, these plants go crazy churning out their red globes of gastronomical delight. Harvesting at just the right time is a daily routine. While blooms and babies are maturing at the top of the plant, ripe fruit is ready to pick at the bottoms, a picture of natural efficiency. Legions of salivating fans anxiously await their arrival in produce sections around the nation.

Early tomato farming experiences

Randy Clanton recalls a time when his father cultivated his tomato crop with a mule, fed on corn grown in the elder Clanton’s fields. “He told me  on some of the first tomatoes he grew,  he borrowed $200 at the bank for three acres of tomatoes. By the time he was able to start picking and selling his crop, he still had $40 of his loan left, unexpended.” Randy’s friend, Bradley county businessman Kenneth Farrell, a former tomato farmer, revealed his first experience at tomato farming. “The year I finished high school, I had an acre and a quarter of tomatoes I raised. I had $125  in the crop. It was 1958 which was a ‘high’ year for tomato prices. After all my expenses, I was able to go to the Ford place and buy the best car they  had.”

Times have changed

Randy and Kenneth agreed that the price of tomatoes has not grown proportionally with what it takes to produce them. However, on Randy’s farm, it is easy to see that good farming practices and due diligence are the key, a good thing for us on the BLT end of this process.

What’s that large yellow orb in the sky?

lot

Liquid lingers in south Arkansas. My thanks to Pat Patterson for the shot of me in my truck. Pat's wife, Darlene was riding with me. At this point, she was not trembling with fear and trepidation, but those conditions were not far off.

For the first time in what feels like months, there is no rain predicted in these environs for the next seven days. Nevertheless, the remnants of thunderstorms past linger in our neighborhoods. I joined my friends William L. “Pat” Patterson and his lovely spousal unit, Darlene in visiting our mutual friends, Jack and Linda Newbury in their home at Felthensal AR. Felthensal has been described by some as a small drinking community with a fishing problem. There may be some credence to this rumor. The community sits on the banks of the Felthensal pool formed by the Felthensal Lock and Dam on the Ouachita River in south Arkansas. The local waters are a fine fishing resource. In winter months, hunters descend on the community in droves. We took a swing around the area, looking at still flooded parking lots among other things.

Boys will still be boys. Reckon any girls ever do this? Hmmm.

Boys will still be boys. Reckon any girls ever do this? Hmmm.

Later on in the day, I found our next sign. This time as a two sided target. One side’s pelting is punctuated by exit wounds.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

The edge of wetness


Stuck truck

Stuck truck

The abandoned, bogged down truck you see above is adjacent to a flooded pasture, pictured on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com, where this story started. Click here to check it out, a cool thing to do.

It appears that our hapless driver made a valiant effort to come out of the ditch, but his efforts visibly were for naught. Getting stuck is right up there with an IRS audit notice, power outages,  and flatulence that fooled you for those anguish filled,  stomach churning moments that make us weep, wail and gnash our teeth. Our condolences to whomsoever the driver is. We have been there and done that. But not lately, knock on wood.

On Mother's Day, 2009, the Saline River is lapping at the bottom of the UA Highway 63 bridge, north of Warren AR.

On Mother's Day, 2009, the Saline River is lapping at the bottom of the UA Highway 63 bridge, north of Warren AR.

The truck is just a mile or so north of the Saline River Bridge north of Warren AR on US Highway 63. The river is well out of its banks and the rain is still falling. We will cross our fingers. Mother Earth is running out of traditional places to store excess water in these environs.

cr 96

Close by is Bradley County road 96, off Highway 63. For the time being, it is suitable for marine transportation only.

Seeing all of this water brings to mind Johnny Cash’s classic “How high’s th’ water mamma”, also appropriate to remember on a rainy Mother’s Day.

Since we are unable to control the weather, only to control how we react to it, we continue to grin and bear it. Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise (no more), relief will come soon.

Our apologies to our friends in Florida, the arid southwest and other sections of the USA that could use this water. Trust me, if there was a way to send it, we’d do it.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Rainy day solutions


What to do on a rainy day? Go out and see wet things, but first adjust your attitude. We covered a way to do that and we show you a couple of other rainy day pictures on Photo of the Week page at Corndancer  dot com. That’s where this whole thing started. Check it out here, a very cool thing to do.

Ud’n, ud’n!

Spray squirts from the truck as we hit the water covered gravel road at about 30 mph. Wow! Yippee! Ud'n, Ud'n!

Spray squirts from the truck as we hit the water covered gravel road at about 30 mph. Wow! Yippee! Ud'n, Ud'n!

Our trip took a turn down Lincoln County AR Road 2, a good gravel road. During a healthy rain, some of the road is covered by a few inches of water in places. If you have a pickup relatively impervious to water, a lead foot and a good attitude, you can make some spray about three times taller than the truck. I did it, grinning from ear to ear. You grow older, but you don’t have to grow up!

Someone’s ass is wet

This jenny (a mamma donkey) seems unfazed and could care less about being soaked.

This jenny (a mamma donkey) seems unfazed and could care less about being soaked. She may also think we're full of it for thinking that.

After the spray exercise, I came across a donkey, a jenny (the mamma kind). She was drenched. Thus, someone’s ass was all wet. She seemed to be taking being thoroughly soaked in stride. Some critters will head for shelter in a rain if it is available and some just don’t care. I like their attitude.

Ramshackled

If you blink, you'll miss this now well camouflaged former dwelling on Mabry Road in souther Jefferson County AR.
If you blink, you’ll miss this now well camouflaged former dwelling on Mabry Road in southern Jefferson County AR.

A bit further north on Mabry Road in Jefferson County AR, backed up to a cypress-lined bayou, is this old cabin and/or house. If conditions were the same when it was occupied as it is now, one could probably have fished off the back porch … or at least a few steps from it. The rain and wetness add some drama to the appearance and the greens are much greener.

Man your paint cans!

These rail cars were obviously in one place too long and the grafitti artists made good their spray-can attack. Being an old art director (among other things), I can see some takented handiwork here along with some applied forethought as to appearance.

These rail cars were obviously in one place too long and the graffiti artists made good their spray-can attack. Being an old art director (among other things), I can see some talented handiwork here along with some applied forethought as to appearance.

The reflections you see are in a “borrow pit” beside the railroad. The term comes from borrowing earth from the pit to build the road bet for the rail line. The common terminology has long since deteriorated to “bar pit.” I thought it was an epiphany the day I discovered what a “bar pit” really was.  For this image, the rain has stopped, but not before it filled the bar pit for these great reflective images, not available without, you guessed it, a rainy day.

Still yet, more sign perforations

One more in our continuing coverage of well ventilated stop signs in southern Arkansas. This one was smacked with a couple of big bore shots.

One more in our continuing coverage of well ventilated stop signs in southern Arkansas. This one was smacked with a couple of big bore shots.

Boys will still be boys. As the inimitable Flip Wilson would have said, ” … the devil made me do it.”

Thanks for dropping by for a dripping trip.
Joe Dempsey

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