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


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