Meandering through the mountains

Finding fading man-made edifices

Red barn near Marshall Arkansas

Late afternoon sun, low on the horizon, lights this old barn and its environment to the best advantage. It is a favorite sight for travelers and a popular target for photographers.

The fine old barn you see here is south of Marshall, Arkansas on US Highway 65 in plain sight. You can’t miss it. Not that you would want to. When you see the barn from the side, like many other old barns on well traveled highways, it is embellished with a large sign. To see the sign and get in on the start of this story of old barns and man-made edifices in the mountains, click here, and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com.

Home made political sign

Marshall was in the final throes of a heated election for mayor. One candidate used some real imagination in mounting a hand-lettered sign in a small wagon. The candidate who created this display gets my nod of approval for innovation and "remembering it" factors.

Marshall was my jumping off point to find some fall color, which was cool when I found it, but sparse in general due to some less than perfect climatic conditions the past summer. See what I saw here. What I found more of was old man-made structures begging to be photographed and chronicled.

Old store at Snowball AR

This fine old store in Snowball, Arkansas has seen better days, but remains in presentable condition. Too bad it was closed. It was time for an RC and a Moon-Pie.

West of Marshall on my trek is the town of Snowball. Like many once bustling rural communities, Snowball, Arkansas is a mere shadow of its former self. The Masonic Lodge survived, but the two stores didn’t. Their schools were consolidated. My bet is that the latter came first. Two old stores, and the remnants of a high school stand as testimony to a former life.

former high school Snowball Arkansas

What's left of Snowball High School. Several years ago, some civic-minded hunting club members built the attached pavilion for community use.

The area northwest of Snowball is sprinkled with a lot of wide-spread residences, some old, some new. I happened across one older unused home in this area which had a dug well in the front yard that had a stone structure around it. After a discreet inquiry, I discovered it was ok to open the gate to shoot the old house. The capstone on the well structure is a work of art.

old well in from of vacant house

The capstone on this old well was hand-hewn from one solid piece of rock. I wonder how long that took? Certainly past my patience level.

Thirty miles or so south of Snowball, Big Piney Creek, a popular canoeing and kayaking stream crosses Arkansas Highway 123 southwest of Pelsor. The bridge over the creek is one lane and as old as dirt. It is a popular spot for tourists, bridge gawkers and motorcyclists. They cross and recross the bridge, smiling as they go. From what I can see, it’s an uphill job not to like an old bridge. At least this one.

highway 123 bridge over big piney creek

The Arkansas Highway 123 bridge over big Piney Creek looks peaceful now. During heavy spring rains, the water level can get to just a few feet below the roadway.

The sun was setting and my time on target was waning if I wanted to be in my den by dark. And I did. That permitted one more shot in the hamlet of Hagarville, Arkansas. In that small town a surviving old store and duplex next door to each other are reasonably well preserved, but unused. A neighbor across from the two buildings said, “please use my yard, you will get a better angle,” after I explained what I was doing. She was right.

old duplex and store in Hagarville Arkansas

The old store and duplex still standing in Hagarville, are good examples of a long-gone rural lifestyle that enriched our cultural heritage.

I am discovering more and more that rural America is a living museum of cultural history. It is a museum which bears frequent visits because the displays are crumbling more and more every day. It’s a nasty job, but someone has to do it.


See all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures, plus those “keepers” from the shoot that we did not publish. Click here to see this picture-only gallery.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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