Meandering about the Ouachitas

The Norman Arkansas Library

The small library at Norman, Arkansas is a favorite target of Arkansas photographers. This is the nicely lit back which means that the favored front view was pitifully in the shadows. So here you were able to see the other side.

This may come as a surprise to many non-Arkansans, but our state has two, count-em, two mountain ranges. Almost everyone has heard of the Ozarks, few have heard of the Ouachita Mountains and national forest. The latter is southwest of the former and is and are the settings for our exploration today. I set out from the intergalactic headquarters of the Dempsey operations in Pine Bluff to an area west of Hot Springs, Arkansas with the small town of Amity as my jumping off place.

Red barn

Click on the barn for more pictures and the starting point for this story.

I proceeded from there to Norman to photograph their miniscule library, a favorite target of Arkansas photographers. From there, I made the short trip to to Black Springs and from thence into the boondocks, eventually emerging at Big Fork. Between Black Springs and Big Fork I found an isolated country church and cemetery and a small bridge which were great picture fodder. Let’s pause here and send you to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com to see a nice red barn, the aforementioned country church cemetery, cool cattle, and more. We’ll wait here for your return.

Small bridge south of Big Fork Arkansas

Just before breaking out of the woods at Big Fork, I came across this small single truss bridge. I had never seen anything quite like it.

Joe Dempsey on a bridge

It’s not often that you find a bridge, the trusses of which,  are not much taller than you. I am at my truncated height of 6′-3″ so the trusses of the bridge are around eight feet tall. You don’t see that a whole heckuvalot.

From Big Fork, I made my way through Mena, Arkansas, and drove north on US Highway 71 to Arkansas Highway 28 and turned east.  Highway 28 is rife with neat barns and nice old stores at Bluffton and Gravelly,  I also found some cattle coolin’ it the best way they could.

Not in the cards

Mad Dog Hill Lane road sign

I had expected to see an old abandoned house behind this sign.

It’s what I didn’t find that was not in the cards. Normally on trips like this, you never know what you will find, but having traveled Highway 28 before, I had some expectations. They were not to be.

Old house on Arkansas Hwy 28

Here’s what I expected to see. The old house, probably a little worse off than this last picture I shot in 2011.

I was tooling east on 28, listening to some good ol’ foot-stompin’ southern Gospel music and looking forward to another photo encounter with the old house at the junction of 28 and Mad Dog Hill Lane.

Adorned with some fine Victorian roof décor, I’m certain at one time it was the pride and joy of its owners. When I arrived at the junction I blinked twice. The site was level. No old house. The lot is completely overgrown with knee-high grass.

Old house on Arkansas Highway 28

Here it is without bushes or signs obliterating the view. That is, there it was.

I photographed it first in 2009 and again in 2011. I was not the only one. The old house was a favored target for many photographers. Goodbye old house. Even in your most decrepit condition, you provided pleasure to thousands.

Movin’ right along

Having completed our requiem for the old house, here are a few more of the observations we made on our swing through the Ouachita hinterlands.

Capped off water well

This is an old dug well, capped off to prevent, children, pets, idiots, and drunks from plunging to the bottom. The shelter is a hold-over from the days of its usefulness.

Possum Hollow street sign

You’ve probably heard countless hillbilly jokes about places like this. Now you know they really exist. There’s a problem. They missspelt “holler.”

Nola, Arkansas

Nola, Arkansas reminds me of a childhood friend Nola Caudle Slack who is now a Facebook friend. This Nola is on HIghway 28 in Arkansas. The other resides in Texas with her family.

This trip was a reflection of our lives more or less. We expect the unexpected and get our way. We expect the expected and strike out. Go figure.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey

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