Baring it in the winter

Old red bard

This old barn, resplendent in its winter mode is a familiar sight to the legion of kayaking, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking enthusiasts who frequent the Long Pool Recreation area, my destination for the day, on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. You can't miss it.

From the looks of things you are figuring this is a story about barns. You are partially correct.  Actually we are talking about what you see in the winter, when most people are staying home versus what you see in the warmer months when the folks who will venture out, well, venture out. It is my contention that there is more to see in the winter.

Old Arkansas Barn

Click on the barn for a full size picture.

Before we pursue that argument further, take a look at where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. You will see another old barn and a close up of a remote intermittent water fall. Click here to go there. We’ll be here when you get back.

I had high hopes of catching a couple of waterfalls in a mid-winter display of their might a few miles from this barn east of the Long Pool Recreation Area on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. There had been plenty of rain in the general vicinity, but Mother Nature, in her fickle mode, chose to steer her latest deluge in the wrong direction to satisfy my hopes. Whom am I to question?

Never the less, the trip was worth it. The falls, one about 10-12 feet tall, and one towering to 44 feet, are ensconced in a huge hollow which is nothing short of spectacular. Boulders as big as a pickup truck line the outflow of the falls. The waterfalls are accessible only by a hike of nearly a mile in each direction and are not frequently visited.

waterfall near Long Pool Recreation area on Big Piney Creek

This is the smaller of two falls at this destination. This one is 10-12 feet tall. The larger one, which I did not have time to shoot properly is 44 feet tall. Just a trickle was coming over it.

There are two trails to the falls, one of which is close to treacherous. The trail, only a foot and a half wide in some places,  follows Big Piney Creek on the side of a steep hill which bottoms out in the creek. The other trail is an old road which leads to and from the recreational area. It is benign, but steep in places. I took the scenic route in and the safer route out.

Small falls near Long Pool Recreation Area

You see a great deal of detail in these pictures due to the even light on the falls. In summer months the difference between the bright and dark spots due to foliage makes a detailed shot such as this nearly impossible.

Listening to the trickle of the falls in their diminished intermittent mode was good therapy and I did not want to leave. However, I was covering new ground and believed it prudent to allow plenty of time to return to the trusty pickup. That being so, I did not capture as many images as I would have liked. However, I will have a keen eye out for reports of big rains in the area and then beat a path back.

white trees

These poplar trees south of Russellville AR on U.S. Highway 64 are a dramatic presence in this field. "Golden Hour" sun splashes over the scene.

If you have an opportunity, or conversely you have nothing better to do and want to do something different, make an opportunity and sally forth to see some winter magnificence. It awaits you.


waterfall closeup

Click here for more waterfall and barn pictures

See our weekly photo-only gallery which has all of the weekly Corndancer and Grist pictures, plus some cool ones which are not displayed on either site.

This week there are nine pictures. See more angles on  the Corndancer barn and views the waterfall you’ve observed on this page. Click to here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Looking for a fall

Fall foliage and barn

Since fall has postponed its grand opening here at home, I went north to the Ozarks to find fall. This fine looking barn at the foot of a fall splashed hill helped satisfy my gnawing desire for the third season. I found it on Arkansas Highway 74 east of Snowball.

Fall is dragging its feet in the Delta. Here it is the first of November and most of the trees are still green, our ground is as dry as a powder house, and for the most part, there’s not much of a fall nip in the air. Hungry for fall, I set out to find the elusive season in the mountains of Searcy County, Arkansas. I am a denizen of the Delta by natural selection, but was born at the feet of the Ozarks. I suppose my underlying DNA pushed me north. See the beginnings of this trek on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com. See the dog’s sculptured partner and some fine fall color.  Click here to go there. We’ll wait here.

dog statue

On the way to Marshall AR, our starting point in our quest for fall, I found this dog offering a welcome to the Smiley's Blueticks enterprise. For those who do not know, a Bluetick is hunting dog of the hound persuasion. Although the dogs make fine pets, they are highly valued as coon-hunting dogs. Really good ones fetch a high price.

We headed for Snowball AR looking for County Road 12. County Road 12 runs west from Snowball and t-bones a forest service road which will carry you south, provided you turn right which sounds crazy. Logic tells you that if you are traveling west, a left turn should take you south. At this junction, guess again. To go south, turn northwest. In any case, good ol’ County Road 12 runs through some rugged territory and gives you some good higher altitude fall scenery.

country road and fall foliage

Not far from Snowball AR, this country road meandering through the boondocks is a macro show stopper for fall splendor. It may get even better when the rest of the trees start to turn.

County Road 12  runs through valleys and winds its way to the top and back down, around curves, switchbacks, and other temptations of gravity set to swallow you if you do not pay attention to driving. Views from the top remind you of Robert Goulet singing “On a clear day you can see for ever and ever . . .  .” Bumps and road conditions notwithstanding, it is well worth the trip.

View of fall foliage from mountain top

As the road crawls across the top, the view is spectacular, particularly with great fall light and brilliant foliage.

As the sun began to drop in the afternoon, the warm fall tones became warmer and colors intensified. In the fall, the sun does not have as far to drop since it hangs lower in the sky to start with. The result is good broadside light to taller objects and dramatic long shadows.

Overlooking a valley with fall foliage

A parting shot. As we began descending from the mountains, we found this colorful valley showing its fall hues, chromas, lights, and shadows. Some kind of cool!

The dropping sun also signals a time to seriously aim for home before dark, but not before grabbing a few more images. In the words of John Wayne in The Cowboys, ” . . .  we’re burnin’ daylight.” We made our retreat shooting our way out. In addition to these foliage and color shots, we grabbed a cool barn, a bridge and other buildings in the boondocks. You’ll see these next week.

Update, December 6, 2010

The night before I did these shots, I dined at the Sunrise Cafe in Marshall. It was not my first trip. The quality and quantity of good southern comfort food had not diminished.

Sunrise Cafe Marshall, Arkansas

It is always a good sign for out-of-towners when a good crowd of natives are at the feed trough. It portends well for good eating. The crowd at the Sunrise Cafe in Marshall welcomed me. I was served a whopper meal of catfish. Notice the pie safe by the door. Yum!


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.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

On the way from Houston (Arkansas that is)

Old barn near Houston AR

In spring and summer months leaves from trees and shrubs will make this view virtually impossible. Another example of stuff you can see in the winter and no other time.

A backward glance

In late February (2010), Jon Phillipi and I, tooling west toward Houston, (Arkansas) on Arkansas Highway 113,  noticed an old house on the south side of the road. Long since abandoned, and basking well in late afternoon sun, the house appeared to be a good prospect for a Weekly Grist picture.

We passed it and I ventured one more backward glance and noticed a large barn south of the house. We duly noted the location as a prime prospect and continued west to Houston where we would shoot the former Houston Methodist Church, a popular target for photographers.

It isn’t a barn

old gin at ladd ar

It's not a old barn. It's an old gin.

Before we venture too much further, we need to tell you this barn story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where we visited what we thought was an old barn at Ladd, Arkansas. Turns out, it is not an old barn, but an old gin. A last minute infusion of facts saved our bacon from the embarrassment of publishing a falsehood. Nothing like the facts to clear the air. Like the barn at Houston the gin has seen better days but still is very interesting. See the old gin at Ladd here, outside and inside.

Do it now

Back to Houston. With a sufficient amount of pixels “in the can” from the church at Houston, we headed back east toward the Delta, our home. By the time we saw the house and barn again, the late evening illumination was nearing perfection. Coming back to shoot the barn ceased to be an option. The light was right and the time was now.

I ventured to the nearest neighbor’s domicile and asked if the barn was on their property. A friendly young man informed me that it was not their property and belonged to unknown persons who “ … lived up north,“ meaning north of the Mason Dixon line.

Tall barn

The barn is one of the tallest we've seen. In all likelihood, with this large capacity loft to store hay, the barn was part of a large livestock operation.

Shoot with abandon

This of course is music to a trespassing photographer’s ear. The owner ain’t gonna show, so fire away with reckless abandon. That was the good news. The bad news is we know little about the old barn except for the fact that it looks really great in late afternoon February sun.

etched in concrete

There may be some clue as to when the barn was either built or was improved. Hieroglyphics we interpret to be 4-48 were carefully scratched into wet concrete at the west entrance to the barn.

Spring is well, springing

In the final throes of a winter somewhat colder than normal, the southeast Arkansas landscape still carries its winter mantle of gravy brown. Paying little attention to these environmental conditions, the flowers which announce spring will wait no longer.

white flowers

A flowering bush an/or stunted tree seems healthy enough on a bleak roadside. A bare field to the left and a construction project in the background lie in contrast to the rites of spring.

Jonquils, Bradford Pear trees and miscellaneous and sundry fruit-bearing trees now generously dot the landscape, portending quick relief for denizens of these whereabouts who have had all the winter they can abide. Friends to the north, take heed. We are sending these favorable conditions your way.

ugly sign, nice flowers

I've heard it said that it takes two uglies to make a uugly (pronounced "you-glee"). These signs are the manifestation of that rumor. These jonquils (or are they narcissus?) are providing a modicum of temporary relief. When they're gone, it's back to uugly.

More (and better) pictures

The blog picture processing procedure somewhat degrades pictures rather than being neutral or enhancing them, so to show you the best pictures, we make a weekly post to a higher resolution gallery. In this gallery, you’ll see all the pictures on Corndancer and Weekly Grist, plus those we closely considered, but did not publish. This week, there are 18 cool shots to see. Click here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

The surviving barn

old barn at Arkadelphia Arkansas

This old barn is alive, well and functional. It serves as the central storage facility and conversation piece for the Open Banks Hunting Club in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The club is so named because the main facility is situated high on a cleared section of the banks of the Ouachita River, affording a clean look at the stream below, unfettered by normal river bank underbrush

The prognosis for this old barn is good. It is well used by my friend Eddie Snider and his cohorts in the Open Banks Hunting Club near Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The barn as you see it, is in its third permutation. It started out with only the breezeway and the enclosed section to the right sometime in the early 1900s, so we are told. The first addition was the near breezeway to the left, then the second to the left and finally the breezeway to the right. It’s a dead giveaway because you can see where the new roof joists were attached to the old ones. The originators were adding functionality before the word was invented.

A bike in the barn

old bike hanging in barn

An old bike hangs in the old barn. See it at Corndancer dot Com.

The story of this barn started on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot Com. To see other pictures of the barn and see an old bicycle hanging in the barn, click here to go there, a cool thing to do. We’ll wait while you check it out.

The barn was originally a horse and mule barn. You can tell by the height of the big doors which will accommodate a man on a horse without bumping his noggin or knocking his hat off.

As you look at the front of the barn, there is a nondescript  notch cut in the top of front opening. The back opening is as it should be. Seems one of the members had a motorhome to park in the breezeway. While said breezeway would handily admit a man on a horse, a motorhome was wont to fit. A chainsaw solved the problem resulting in the snaggle-tooth notch in the front door.

Fifty years or so ago, the land on which this barn is located was under cultivation for row-crops. Changing agricultural trends being what they are, the land is now dedicated to timber and is selectively harvested from time to time.

In the meantime, critters, not giving a tinkerer’s damn about business trends do have a deep and abiding appreciation for favorable habitat. That being so, the timber habitat has the appeal of a pleasure palace and smorgasbord to God’s creatures, so the woods are full of ’em, including a couple of alligators in one of the ponds. Life is good when it is harmonious.

Barn down

old barn remnants

Not quite Stonehenge on the Ouachita, a couple of old cross-ties used for structural members in the barn that fell stand as a memorial to the crumbled structure.

There were (were being the operative word) two barns on the property until an untoward wind several years ago put one of them on the ground. Some remnants survive in stacks to remind one of where it was. Only the strongest survive, even in barns.

Another barn, complete with Ford-Ferguson tractor

The old tractor holed up in this precariously leaning barn looks like a Model 9n Ford-Ferguson tractor, which unbeknown to most, was a turning point in the tractor business. The Ford-Ferguson was the first tractor to offer a three-point hitch, invented by Harry Ferguson, and recognized by Henry Ford as something he had to have for his line of tractors.

Ferguson Ford tractor in old barn

Ferguson Ford tractor in an old barn not far from the barn with the bike.

Before the three point hitch was invented, connecting implements to a tractor was a pain in the keaster at best, requiring a lift device or several full grown men helped by a half-troop of Boy Scouts, grunting and groaning to get stuff hitched. With the three point hitch, the tractor operator backed up to the implement, attached it and went about his business. Easy hookup, less hernias. Such a deal.

Urban volunteers

Meanwhile, back home in LA (Lower Arkansas), spring has served notice that like it or not, it is here. My windshield as covered with the first gossamer film of pollen day before yesterday. This will be replaced in a couple of weeks by an onslaught of yellow powder that would have worked well as one of Pharaoh’s plagues.  Today, blooming jonquils confirmed the seasonal shift.

volunteer jonquils

These jonquils are "volunteer." They appear annually in the same place. They are not attended to, fertilized, molly-coddled or otherwise taken care of. They, being urban posies have the toughness of the hood, if that's possible in a flower. Since they survive nicely, one can only suppose that they do.

Thanks to my friend Eddie Snider for ferrying me about the boondocks on his four wheeler. We are 6-2 and 6-3 respectively. Neither of us is in marathon condition so the little Kawasaki was toting a fearsome load. It did well as we are here to bear witness.

There’s more

See a collection of better quality pictures from this trip, including some not posted otherwise,  in a high-resolution gallery. Click here to go there.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey.
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Back to Smead

There’s just too much for one trip

old barn at Smead AR

This old horse barn at Smead, Arkansas, was built in the early 1900s according to Bob Abbott, whose grandfather lived, worked, raised eight children and died on the home place where the barn sits. The shed overhang to the left was not part of the original structure.

This is the second week we’ve visited the old home place at Smead, Arkansas, a first in the Weekly Grist collection of epistles. So much to shoot and such short days. Last week we shot the house and some out buildings. The barn is typical of the era. Get a good description of the barn and see three more pictures where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do. We’ll wait here while you look.

Small friendly, super cool dog

small dog

When you arrive at the old home place, you are immediately checked out and greeted by this small ambassador for the Dodson family. She appears to be mostly rat terrier.

In the south, no rural home is complete without at least one dog. Really enlightened residents have more than one dog. This place is one of those.

The dog in the picture is the smaller and friendlier of the two. She appears to believe that each different human being is a new two-legged toy. We have a Rottweiler with that mentality.

She appears to be mostly rat terrier with a few neighborhood friends and neighbors tossed in to keep the gene pool well diversified. Most of these smaller terrier dogs I’ve seen are frenetic barkers. Not this one. She followed me around and watched what I did. When I beckoned her, she came forth to lick me and be scratched and petted in return. We then went on our ways, me to shoot, and her to watch until the next affection session. What a concept!

Inside the barn, the patina of age

One can only admire the sturdy construction of this great barn. Now clocking along for 90-plus years, it is wearing well.

stall gate inside barn

Nothing fancy here, but strong and functional. The gate latch was supplemented, no doubt by a small chain. Look at the indentation in the second gate slat from the right and you will see a where the chain wore the wood. The small chain snap-link above the wooden latch competed the chain circuit. Since the wooden latch was reachable by a child, the chain provided the insurance to keep critters and kids in their proper and respective places.

Detailed look

Taking a closer look at the gate latch, you can see the tool marks where the craftsman made the latch by hand.

hand hewn latch

Look closely to see the hand-hewn tool marks on this 90-plus year old latch. DeWalt, Ryobi, and Black and Decker and the like were not even a figment of anyone's imagination when the craftsman carved away everything that was not a gate latch. It still works. End of story.

Never fixed and probably a good thing

ladder repair needed

We conjectured that a cantankerous mule or horse probably dispatched the lower rung and upright of the loft ladder in the barn. "It's been that way since I can remember," says Bob Abbott. His grandfather was the owner of the barn. That broken rung probably kept Bob and his siblings out of that loft while they were still at a tender age, but charged with curiosity which nearly always results in cuts, bruises and breaks. A wise and discerning Grandpa takes advantage of such a barrier.

Smead kids went to Holly Springs School

Holly Springs School

This was Holly Springs School where Smead kids got their first exposure to the three "R's."

A few miles east of Smead is another small community, Holly Springs. Unlike Smead, Holly Springs is alive and well with a church and a well-managed community store. It’s not big, but it is a good community. The old school building above, after a round of school consolidation and a stint as a community center, now belongs to a local church.

According to local sources the school was built in 1930 or 31. Prior to this building, grades one-twelve were taught in an older frame structure. Grades one through eight were taught in this school. Students in grades nine through twelve were bussed to Sparkman, Arkansas. The roads, then, not being what they are not, did not facilitate rapid movement of the buses. Long waits for short rides were de rigueur for the times.

Amazingly, the aggregation of unsupervised young Arkansans charged with pre-pubescent energy, with too much time on their hands (the older ones were just beginning to feel hormonal stirrings), did not perpetrate a wave of juvenile misbehavior. A normal set of circumstances 60 years ago. A bizarre miracle now.

More pictures

Sixteen pictures from eight gigs of shots made the short list for this story. Not all of them made the cut. Click here to see a high-resolution gallery of all 16 shots including the smoke house with moss on the roof, a second shot of the old smoke house, and old broken brick and the old home.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

The Eternal Question for Arkies in 2009

“How high’s the water mama?”

Johnny Cash birthplace sign at Kingsland AR

Not far from the birthplace of legendary singer Johnny Cash is this sign with its feet in water. The sign, on US Highway 79 just north of Kingsland, Arkansas, normally high and dry, is being encroached upon by waters from the swollen Saline River, less than a mile north.

The symbolism of the sign with its feet in the water, in 2009,  is all too familiar to Arkansans. No one alive can remember a rainier year. All of which prompts one to hum “How high’s the water mama?” without too much provocation. I had the pleasure of watching the man in black perform that tune at Rison, Arkansas, a short ride up the road, in the seventies. I had no idea then that the tune would take on new meaning in this neck of the woods. Some local bards, tongues firmly ensconced in their cheeks, are musing, ” … makes Noah’s flood look like a mornin’ dew,” along with similar, but more colorful observations which I will eschew. Something about a boot.

Rodgers barn

See it at Corndancer dot com

This story started in Cleveland County, but water was not the subject. A really cool old barn was. I could not help but notice the water while going after the barn.

Click here to take a barn-break on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com, a very cool thing to do.  We’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.

We nearly made it through the year without a moisture laden seven-fold amen to the aquatic symphony which has been 2009, but the two days before Christmas were soakers for most of the state.  Reports of six to 10 inches for the two days were not uncommon. As a result, the Saline has been a river on steroids.

Construction equipment under water

On Christmas day, this equipment, parked at the foot of the US Highway 79 bridge over the Saline was high and dry. Yesterday, Dec. 26, the truck and ‘dozer were still high and dry with a few inches of water over the tracks of the back hoe. This morning, Dec. 27, it was a different story. Blub, blub.

Bridges and other man-made structures are good standards by which Mother Nature’s machinations can be measured. In less than 24 hours December 26 and 27, Saline grew several feet. The signs and the bridge below are prima facie evidence of a misbehaving river.

Sign at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Saline River access point

This sign is on the east side of the south end of the US 79 bridge over the Saline River between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas. The left picture was shot at about 4:30 p.m., December 26, 2009. The right picture was shot about 11:30 a.m., December 27, 2009. The water color is the same, the direction of light is different, hence the different appearance.


I was recently made aware of the origins of the name of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission access point, “POOL ACCESS.” It was explained to me by my good friend, Dick Warriner. The Saline, for the most part is not a deep or wide river. Under normal circumstances it is a docile stream and at least at one time, was legendary as a fishing resource. It may still be, but you could not prove it by me.

The river widens and deepens somewhat at POOL, just down river from the bridge, hence the name. There is also a bluff at POOL  which was also the site of the “old bridge,” and more importantly to Dick, a favorite swimming hole frequented by his family during his childhood. Dick’s grandfather, Grover Roberts, a resident of nearby Herbine, built a retractable tire swing there which was well used by his progeny and I’m certain by other youngsters in the area. Thanks for the info Dick.

Saline River Bridge

The US 79 bridge over troubling Saline River waters between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas

Parting Shot

While crawling over the bridge on the west side, south end, on top of the abutment, I found a pile of nuts and bolts. These were certainly not placed here by four legged critters or birds, or one would certainly think so. And, there have been no plausible rumors of cults the members of which have a thing for galvanized nuts and bolts. Since this is not a pedestrian bridge, and few besides myself have probably ever noticed the hardware collection, the local curiosity coefficient is low, so an explanation is yet to be revealed.  Why pray tell, is there a pile of nuts and bolts on the abutment?

Nuts and bolts

This is nutty. But the nuts and bolts are the same as hold the bridge railings together.

Thanks for dropping by and Happy New Year!!!

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

A great gravel road

The road running west from Rockbridge Missouri is a virtual honey hole of neat stuff and good folks. First you see the Mackey Place barn, which you’ll find on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the photo of the week page. Back on the road, ford a couple of low-water bridges, curl around some steep hills and the barn below pops up.

Russell's barn

Gary Russell's barn was built in 1923 with lumber made from trees felled while clearing the land.

Gary Russell and his wife welcomed me to their property to shoot the barn. They explained that the builder and original owner cleared the land with a team of oxen and a couple of Jacks. He made lumber from the trees he felled and built the barn and the house where the Russells now live.  I  found out a short way down the road that this is in the Souder, Missouri community.

Souder Store

Souder Store, a fine country establishment. They stock RC Colas and Moon Pies.

Liz Macmillan, proprietress of Souder Store, Souder, Missouri is every bit as gracious as Gary Russell. Liz and her daughters Katy and Chelsea comprise the entire population of Souder. The population was temporarily at five while I was there, including a friendly neighbor, the driver of the four wheeler out front, Glenn Plaster. Well, six counting Glenn’s dog. Liz allowed as how she was the mayor, city council, and  the chamber of commerce for Souder. I asked if she was also the parade marshall and all agreed. That too. She’s operated the store two years now and appears to enjoy a decent business. She has her merchandising act together, stocking both RC Colas and Moon Pies. Katy and Chelsea attend school in Gainsville, Missouri, a daily hour-and-a-half ride both ways on dirt roads. They take it in stride. The flag out front is the “Don’t tread on me” flag. I like her style.

Souder MO Church of Christ

Souder Church of Christ. The original building (the right side) was built in 1909.

Not far from the Souder Store, is the Souder Church of Christ. As I was shooting, I wondered when the church was built. While pondering this question, Glen Plaster rolled up on his four wheeler (with dog) and gave me the particulars, 1909. Turns out, there are some Indian graves in the cemetery. Speaks well of early settlers.

Old barn

Unexplained barn.

Within sight of Souder Church of Christ is this old barn. It shows signs of age but is hanging in there well. Not a soul was in sight so I have no explanation or information for the barn other than this: Since the days of it’s highest and best use are long gone, its new job is to sit there and look cool. It is doing a great job.

Souder School

Souder School. Home of the three Rs for many, I'm certain, well educated and well-informed students.

The last stop on this odyssey was the Souder School. It stands there replete with an outside hand water pump in the front and off to the rear, an outhouse. Neither of which degraded the three R’s I strongly suspect. The odd looking arrangement to the left of the porch is a shower installed when the now completely abandoned school was used for a while as a hunting camp and/or club.

Many would have been entertained as I contorted my somewhat aged 6′-3″ frame between a fence and a tree to get the proper angle for the shot. You had to be there. But if you were within a mile or two, probably heard the joints creaking and snapping.

The parting shot

mud encrusted tractor

Oh #!**#??%$##!!

On our return trip from the rolling hills of southern MIssouri back to the flat lands of the Delta, we came across this tractor between Hoxie and Tuckerman, Arkansas. This condition clearly demonstrates the propensity of gumbo soil, AKA “buckshot,” to stick to anything. The goo has a particular affinity for high dollar tractors.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Barns and cows, how can you go wrong?

In advertising 101, they teach you that when all else fails, default to kids and puppies. Fast forward to the internet, when all else fails, default to barns and cows.

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The barn in the foreground is more than likely the successor to the barn in the background. Or at least, the building in the background is what I strongly suspect to be a log barn. It’s a log something and I’m figuring it’s a barn. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com with an individual, more detailed picture of both structures. Click here to see how the story started along with the other pictures.  The buildings are on Arkansas Highway 310 west of Letona, Arkansas.

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

This barn odyssey begins in my home town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I snapped the first image (above) just south of Lonoke, Arkansas on Highway 31. The barn is in good condition, considering the probable age. The owners obviously are wanting to preserve the barn. They replaced the original corrugated roofing with a new aluminum roof. Not exactly traditional, but who cares if it gets the job done and extends the life of this fine barn.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

The next stop was Pangburn, Arkansas. By the time you get to Pangburn, the Delta flatlands are far behind you. You are getting into the mountains. The nice barn above and 654 souls (according to the 2000 census) call Pangburn home. This barn can’t be much more than a block and a half from the epicenter of downtown Pangburn. Is that a cool town or what? The barn was behind a fence which did not appear to present a problem in crossing. Before taking that fateful step over the fence, I noticed a well worn path inside the fence, prima facie evidence that a critter was ensconced there. Not seeing the critter or wishing to find out the hard way, I shot on the street side of the fence. I took a closer look at the barn after the shot. A horse in the barn was taking a closer look at me. He looked friendly enough, but in the words of the immortal Fats Waller, “ … one never know, do one?” The barns at the top of the page were the next stop.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

The next barn is on Good Springs Road off Highway 310 south of Pickens Chapel. There was an occupied residence on the same property, but unfortunately, no one was home to reveal the secrets of the barn.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Wandering off Good Springs Road, I came across these cows. When temperatures soar to the discomfort stage, certain enlightened, but not all cows will repair to the depths of their friendly local stock pond and spend the afternoon taking a dip. Why didn’t I think of that?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Ruinous activities


Half of the barn has collapsed and the other half has a serious leaning problem. Can you spell R-U-I-N-S?

We’re looking at an old south Arkansas barn. From the looks of things, we better look fast. It is on its last legs, teetering on collapse. The story, on “ruins,”  started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see some other pictures of the barn and get in on the start of the story, click here. A cool and rewarding thing to do.


The “good” half of the barn, so to speak. Behind the leaning wall is a mid-seventies Ford Torino, (if my car ID cells are functioning properly).

The barn is a typical setup. There was loft for hay, stalls for mules and other livestock, and dry storage for feed. In its time, it served well. While many of us look at the nostalgic aspects of an old barn, we tend to forget that the structure was part of a business. And that part of the agri-business has about as much use today as carbon paper does in a modern office. Still …………….

Home sweet home

The welcome mat is not out.

The house which went with the barn is still standing and in substantially better condition than the barn. It has what appears to be a “sleeping porch,” a now-forgotten part of many homes of the mid-forties and earlier. A sleeping porch was screened, preferably on the east side of the house since you were attempting to sleep in a cooler environment. Having stacked a few z’s on a sleeping porch, I can give the concept a hearty thumbs up. It has been a few moons however.

Sleeping porch

Call it a "sleeping porch museum."

When the house was deserted, bed springs were left on the porch. That seems to be the most popular thing to leave behind. In most abandoned houses I’ve seen, there are always bed springs or mattresses. Can’t get ‘em in a car I guess. The door is boarded up and one window is covered with corrugated roofing metal.

Lightning rods

A lightning rod and a lightning rod weather vane combination.

Lightning rods are perched on the roof of the house. I once worked for a man who told me that if I saw lightning rods on a house to bore in and sell ‘em anything I could, because if they spent good money on lightning rods, they could be convinced to buy anything.

Things you don’t expect to see department

Chopper on the porch

Somehow, on the outskirts of a small southern town, you just do not expect to see a chopper on the porch. A couple of four wheelers, 50 gallon ice chest, a couple of cats, and a "broke-down" trolling motor, yes. A chopper no. Also a satellite dish and a TV antenna, no less.

Thanks for dropping by,
Stay cool and keep your powder dry,


A sign of other times

This sign  and its terminology have fallen to disuse. The old sign, on Arkansas Highway 5 near Hot Springs AR, however, at the height of its glory was the amalgamation of some specialized artistic and mechanical skill sets hard to find today. The original story on this sign started on the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week page. Click here to go there (a very cool thing to do) and see another picture of the sign and a short treatise on how these signs came to be.

The sign reads, "Colonial Nursing Home for Aged and Invalids." The sign has outlasted the nursing home.

The sign reads, "Colonial Nursing Home for Aged and Invalids." The sign has outlasted the nursing home, which is nowhere in sight.

Earlier on the trip, I encountered this barn on Arkansas Highway 5 south of Benton AR, a familiar landmark to local commuters. There are several other equally interesting barns on this picturesque stretch of road.

Barn on Arkansas Highway 5, south of Benton AR

Barn on Arkansas Highway 5, south of Benton AR

An hour or so later, driving west on Arkansas Highway 298, I saw this old barn. Next to it was a nice two-story home. Most residents with barns such as this on their property consider them to be outdoor museum pieces and simply “leave them be.”

Barn on Arkansas HIghway 298 West of Hot Springs Village AR.

Barn on Arkansas HIghway 298 West of Hot Springs Village AR.

Not too much further down Highway 298  I found this old residence, now relegated as a decorative part of a pasture. It reminded me of a pasture softball game when I was a child. Everything was going fine until my neighbor friend, Billy Jameson slid into what he thought was third base. The game broke up shortly after that untoward and unfortunate slide. Billy was a key player and keeping him downwind was not working well with our game strategy.

The dark object in the lower right hand side of the image is not third base.

The dark object in the lower right hand side of the image is not third base.

My apologies for the brevity of the story this week.

Thanks for dropping by,