Fall, falling down, and ferrous oxide

line of old cars

A '54 Oldsmobile 88 leads a stationary parade of old cars. The second in line appears to be a '59 Ford. The third car is anybody's guess. The cars are in a "used" car lot on Arkansas HIghway 16 west of Heber Springs, Arkansas.

old corn crib falling down

Click on the corn crib for more pictures

I started out on a fall color trip and found plenty of colors on Arkansas Highway 16 in the central Ozark Mountains — and more than I bargained for. I found rust and ruination, old barns and more.

The story of this trip actually started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where I found an old corn crib about to fall down across the highway from this old car. Take at look the corn-crib picture and a couple of others, we’ll wait here until you get back.

1954 Oldsmobile 88

The old Olds deserved a close-up portrait to properly reveal what's left of its former glory. These models could burn some serious rubber. What was once a cool ride now reminds you of the guy down the street with snaggle teeth and a dirty shirt.

The old Olds and a number of other mostly fifties vintage automobiles are stored in a lot at the corner of, get ready for this, “Toothfairy Lane” and Heber Springs Road (Arkansas Highway 16). That’s right up there with “Mad Dog Hill Lane,” about 60 miles or so to the east of this location, which I have photographed twice . (You’ll need to scroll down at both link locations).

Toothfairy Lane street sign

This is not contrived. The old cars in a lot at Toothfairy Lane and Heber Springs Road, a.k.a. Arkansas Highway 16.

See all 16 pictures from this trip in a larger format in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Highway 16 winds through a lot of sparsely populated countryside which ain’t a bad deal if you are looking for some serenity as you travel — and you never know quite what to expect. I came across a huge pasture in the midst of which was an old Ford 9N tractor sitting on three wheels and a jack. I’m thinking the local parts house does not stock a lot of Ford 9N tractor stuff.

Old Ford tractor broken down in field

The forlorn old Ford tractor is broken down in a field right close to as big as three Wal-Mart Super Center parking lots — or there about.

 Closer to home, there is an old Chevy truck, a 41 or 42 model, (I can’t be sure, they are very similar),  which I have longed to photograph. The old klunker is in plain,unobstructed sight from the Princeton Pine (a.k.a. Arkansas Highway 190) west of Pine Bluff, our spiritual headquarters.  Only problem is I can never catch it in the right light or by itself. The owner is in the salvage business and he leans used “for sale” stuff against it, knowing that people will always look in that direction.

1941 Chevy truck

Official portrait of my favorite 1941 (or 42) Chevrolet bob truck.

Got lucky today. The good news was, the stuff was gone. The bad news: the truck was back lit — conditions less than ideal. About the time I was about to mutter under my breath The Master Weatherman sent a cloud between the truck and the sun — which evened the light. Got my shots. Life is good.

side view 1942 chevy bob truck

A three-quarter view of the old truck with a curious horse in the background.

 By the way, for the uninitiated, “ferrous oxide” is another name for “rust.” Whereas millions of individuals believe that rust and cloudy days are undesirable conditions, we have today proven them wrong and misinformed. Without rust, our old vehicles would have no aging patina. Without the clouds, we’d have no truck pictures. I rest my case.

See all 16 pictures from this trip in a larger format in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



Only in the Ozarks: these falls, this store

The "middle fingers" of Six Finger Falls on Falling Water Creek near Ben Hur, Arkansas

The “middle fingers” of Six Finger Falls on Falling Water Creek near Ben Hur, Arkansas

August 21, 2011 – We have updated this post with pictures shot on the same trip not previously posted.

Six finger falls

Click on the falls for another view at Corndancer dot-com

You’re looking at the middle fingers of “Six Finger Falls” on Falling Water Creek northeast of Ben Hur, Arkansas. The falls, probably over eons, have carved six sluices through solid rock, giving rise to the name. This story, along with another picture of the falls started on the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer Dot Com. Click here to go there and see for yourself.

Upstream from Six Finger Falls is “Falling Water” falls, on, you guessed it, Falling Water Creek. Coming north on county road 1205 from Arkansas Highway 16 (east of Ben Hur), you pass Falling Water Falls. On this trip you get two, count ‘em, two falls for the price of one. Many people who make the trip, always take a gander at both.

Hidden Hollow

Down stream from Six-Finger Falls about 100 yards on the left, you will find this hollow carved out over millions of years by the small falls at its head. The hollow is immense and gives you the feeling you are in a big cave with no roof. You almost would not be surprised to see a pterodactyl coming at you in this environment. When I first found it, I took the liberty of naming it “Hidden Hollow.” Much-more-famous-than-I photographer, writer, and over-all nice guy, Tim Ernst, calls it “Fuzzybutt.”

Old house on Falling Water Creek Road

On the way to the falls, if you come in from the Ben Hur side, you will see this old structure. I’m betting it is now a deer camp, formerly a residence. The outside decor includes everthing but a kitchen sink, and that may be on the other side.

low water bridge on falling water creek

Past the alleged deer camp a mile or so, you cross Falling Water Creek via this low-water bridge, mostly out of the picture. You are looking downstream.

Rotary Ann Overlook on Arkansas Highway 7, south of Pelsor. The view is to the west. The overlook is legendary for spectacular sunsets.

Rotary Ann Overlook on Arkansas Highway 7, south of Pelsor. The view is to the west. The overlook is legendary for spectacular sunsets.

On the way to Falling Water Creek, earlier today, I passed “Rotary Ann Overlook” on Arkansas Highway 7, south of Pelsor, Arkansas. The mountains from the overlook were still shrouded in morning mist, a breathtaking sight.

Oark store

Oark General Store, according to local sources has been in continuous business since 1890.

After the waterfall adventure, I proceeded to Oark, Arkansas and the Oark Café and General Store for lunch and a shoot, in that order. Breakfast seemed to have been a week ago. Crawling around waterfalls will do that to you.

The current store owners, James and Carla recently bought the store, taking their place in a parade of former proprietors. Like many country stores, a big part of their business is the café.


The Oark General Store Cafe is not only a popular venue for local folks, visitors from outside the community also frequent the tables. The area to the right (shelves and drink boxes) was partitioned as a feed warehouse in the fifties. A concrete floor for the warehouse replaced the original wood floor in that area. Other than that, the ceiling and floors in the building are exactly as they were when the store was built. Eclectic decor with the checkered table cloths amplifies the  down-home feeling experienced in the store.

This was true for the previous owner as well. This is not my first time at the Oark establishment and it will not be the last. James and Carla are continuing a tradition of good vittles. I sinned with a chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, purple hull peas liberally seasoned with bacon, a salad and a huge roll. I could feel my arteries constricting, but nevertheless reveled in this revered culinary delight.


Angela, the Oark General Store and Cafe chef with “Hooter,” the official store dog.

mamma eats here sign

A good sense of humor underscores the inherent goodness of the cuisine.

As I was leaving, I visited with Chef Angela, the creator of my yummy artery clogger. She was relaxing on one of the store porch benches, required furniture if you are to be considered as an official southern country store. She was visiting with “Hooter, ” the official store dog, also a spiritual requirement of country storedom. Hooter, Angela says, “came with the store,” when James and Carla made the purchase. It appears that everyone has nicely adjusted to the transfer.

Angela and Carla both say that Hooter has a strong Catahoula genetic presence. I have to agree. But I can see some Blue Tick and mebbe a of smidgen of Rottweiler. I’m thinking it doesn’t make much difference to Hooter one way or the other, since he seems to like everyone he sees, regardless of his coding. Good attitude Hooter. Would that there were more like you, four and two-legged.

Gulf sign and old fire truck

On the way to the store from the Finger Falls, I saw this old fire truck with an ancient Gulf Oil Co. sign standing guard. It has some sort of extensions which remind you of a shrimp trawler. There’s probably a good explanation, but it escapes me.

Harmony Presbyterian Church

The last shot of the day as I descended to the flat lands was Harmony Presbyterian Church. As I recall, more than 100 years old and holding up well.

Thanks for dropping by,


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