Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Old barn at Elkins Arkansas

Those intrepid souls who travel from south or central Arkansas to the northwest Arkansas corridor on the back roads have driven past this large deteriorating barn near Elkins, just south of Fayetteville. The highway, Arkansas 16, was a bit busy, but fortunately there is a weedy driveway in front of the barn where one may safely park. I shot it going and coming back. This one, on the going trip produced the best results.

Why do people just let the old barns sit there and rot?

I was asked recently on the subject of old barns, “Why do people just let the old barns sit there and rot away?” The question was followed with, “why don’t they just tear them down?” I did not have an immediate answer, but after some ruminating and pondering the question, my answer (later, after the conversation concluded) was, “I don’t know, but let’s don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

My thinking is that these old structures give us a glimpse into our immediate past, a privilege that, since the old structures are falling, will not necessarily be available to succeeding generations. If they are to know, the onus is on us to record them while they are still standing.

Norman Rockwells Rosie the Riveter

Click on “Rosie the Riveter” to see more.

At this point I invite you to see a report on the reason we were in the neighborhood of old barns to begin with. The target of the trip was Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas for a “get-together” of Fort Smith (Arkansas) High School class of 1956 members. Our clever organizers of these yearly, sometimes twice yearly gatherings, do a good job of setting up places of interest for us to gather. This one was a home run.

You’ll see some inside and outside pictures of the museum on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Back to the trip. Our pathway took us through Ozone, Arkansas, a nice little town in the Ozarks. I found an old WPA-built school restored and repurposed to become a community center, the typical abandoned truck and on the north side of town, a totally unexpected hamburger joint and an old barn.

Ozone Arkansas Community Center

Right on Arkansas Highway 21, the Ozone Community Center is neat and nice. It is a well restored old WPA school with a 1942 cornerstone. I wish it had been open. The center speaks well for the small community.

Old mid sixties GMC truck

Things were not going as well for the mid-sixties GMC truck across the street. It looks out on the highway as if to say, “Will someone please restore me too.”

Ozone Burger Barn

Northbound on highway 21 you don’t see the Ozone Burger barn until you come out of a curve. It is definitely a traffic stopper. One would have to take some time to completely peruse the outside décor. The premises also sports a nice, good-sized pavilion. The place garners some great reviews, proving that excellence knows no geographic designation.

Old barn north of Ozone AR

The town of Ozone turned out to be a honey-hole for pictures. Not too far out of town, there was this old barn, right on the highway.

Abandoned home in Boston Arkansas

Next up I cruised into Boston, Arkansas. The only signs of life I could see were electric utility lines which indicates someone, somewhere close by is paying a “light bill.” With respect to the “For Sale” sign on the tree, at the risk of uncaring sarcasm, “Fat Chance.”

Old store in Boston AR

A few yards up the highway is what appears to be the remnants of the Boston business district. The last RC Cola and Moon Pie left these premises a long time ago. Chances are the establishment was the post office, bus stop, gossip center, and supplier of goods to nearby families.

Gravel road at Boston AR

Boston’s “likely” road. The road beside the store meets the criteria for a “likely” road, down which one is likely to find more camera and story fodder.

Old barn at Durham AR

On the return trip to LA (lower Arkansas), at Durham, Arkansas, I found this old barn next to a small pond. I am not certain of the vintage, but, due to the size of the door, it was certainly a “horse-barn.” The door will nicely accommodate an adult on a horse.

Old barn at Durham AR front view

The head on view of the barn gives one a good glance at the substantial hay loft and the opening through which many a bale passed.

Old leaning barn

On one of my forays down a side road (which I failed to write down), I found this old barn close to the right-of-way. Notice the pronounced lean to the right.

Old leaning barn side view

Old leaning barn

Country road in the Ozarks

Back on the highway home, I found this country road. My thoughts rambled to James Taylor’s “Country Road” from his famous album “Sweet Baby James.”

Ozark mountain vista

This is a pull-over vista which was well populated buy bikers (the Harley Davidson variety). It was October 26 and fall was creeping into the Ozarks. The patches of red, yellow, and orange set off by the blue sky are hard to argue with for a pleasant “lookin’” session.

Here’s hoping you have enjoyed a cruise through the Ozarks. It is good for the soul — and on feeding a thirsty full-size pickup to make the trip: “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” It’s just that good.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind