The question on the barn; and a favorite waterfall


Old barn with cross on roof

The roof of this old barn at St. Vincent, Arkansas has a question superimposed on the image of a Cross. “R U Ready?”

As you cruise into the outskirts of St. Vincent, Arkansas, you notice an aged reminder of Redemption, or the lack thereof, on the roof of this old barn. Back in the day, barn roofs were convenient substitutes for billboards, most of which were painted by itinerant sign painters. This roof was not painted by one of the traveling practitioners. It shows all the vestiges of creation by a non-professional painter with a passion to  deliver a message .

Whomsoever did the deed had a better eye than most amateurs for proportion and layout. The message is on both sides of the barn and clearly shows in the Google satellite view of the location.

LBJ's beer and grocery

Click here for the LBJ’s story and pictures

Not far up the road from the barn is St. Vincent’s business district, consisting of one store, LBJ’s Beer and Grocery. In Arkansas, some might consider the two a culture clash. Unlike the old barn, there were people present at LBJ’s which seemed ripe for a good story.

That presumption of a good story was correct. See the story of LBJ’s Beer and Grocery — and its proprietress on the Photo of  the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here for your return.

store with old lion oil sign

Later that afternoon, we found this store proudly displaying an old Lion Oil sign. Lion Oil is an Arkansas company which has changed hands over the years. The Lion Oil refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas, you can be assured, is refining crude even as you eyeball this image.

The next day, liquid sunshine

A day later, we headed back in the same direction.The fine sunlight of the preceding day had transmogrified to overcast and liquid sunshine. I decided that these conditions did not create gloom and doom, but offered different challenges.

Mountain in the mist

As we were ascending to the hills, cold rain hit warmer earth and foliage creating a misty mountain mystique. It didn’t last long.

Murky falls

Once the mental re-orientation was done, I headed nearby to one of my favorite waterfalls, Falling Water Falls, (on Falling Water Creek) northeast of Ben Hur, Arkansas. The normally pristine falls were a bit murky due to the extreme drought in this Arkansas neck of the woods. The creek drains a lot of downhill territory which contains a lot of dust resulting in the coffee look of the falls. The dusty grunge however does not diminish the siren sound of falling water, which is mesmerizing to a lot of folks, Me included.

falling water falls, falling water creek, arkansas

It is not necessary to leave your vehicle to take in this view of Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek, northeast of Ben Hur, Arkansas. The murky appearance is an anomaly. The creek normally runs clear and clean, however, the accumulation of dust due to the current drought in the runoff area that feeds the creek creates the temporary appearance.

Falling water falls falling water creek arkansas

It is necessary to leave your vehicle to get this view. A few non-hazardous steps will do the trick.

I identified Falling Water as one of my favorites. Here are links to my previously documented visits to the falls, the first of which goes way, way, back to the film days: Falling Water 1; Falling Water 2;  and Falling Water 3.

Mouldy monument

On “Old Highway 27,” I found this old monument, the inscription of which reads.” Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs Memorial Forest.” Then there appears to be a blank space where a plaque was removed, followed by further emblazonry reading, “Ozark National Forest, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.”

Apparently someone decided that the memorial, which stands taller than my 6-3″ frame was no longer necessary. Perhaps there is some irony in the fact that the memorial bears a striking resemblance to the map of Texas, our former Southwest Conference arch-rival.

Arkansas Federation of Womens Clubs Memorial forest monument

Perhaps the monument was abandoned because it looks too much like Texas, our former arch- rival in the now defunct Southwest Conference.

Grunt and groan fence

Further north on “Old 27″ I found this old rock fence. Folks, there is no easy way to build one of these. Here are the instructions: Find rock, lift, tote, lower in place. Repeat if necessary. Multiply that by the number of rocks you see, keeping in mind that this is a fraction of the fence.

old rock fence in the ozarks

Imagine the labor to build in this old rock fence. Apparently our fore-bearers believed there was great value to these structures. Back in the boondocks, one frequently encounters fences that strongly resemble this one.

Across from the rock fence is an old residence which appears to now be a deer camp. The old dug well looks good in the front yard. Since there are no ropes attached, one can presume its primary function is now decorative.

old dug well in the ozarks

The old dug well structure across from the fence is well preserved, but non-functional.

The cool stuff to see does not go away during inclement weather, it just looks different and may be a tad more difficult to reach. But, if you don’t go you’ll never know.

Thanks,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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Falling Water and neighbors


Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek east of Ben Hur, Arkansas which is east of Pelsor, Arkansas is one of the best swimming holes you'll ever find

Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek east of Ben Hur and  Pelsor, Arkansas is one of the best swimming holes you’ll ever find.

Falling Water Falls on Falling Water Creek, east of Ben Hur and Pelsor, Arkansas has a lot going for it as a water fall. Though it may become a bit skinny in late summer months, it is for the most part an active waterfall twelve months of the year. You must bump along several miles of gravel road to arrive at Falling Water, but once you are there, you do not have to leave your vehicle to see the falls. But everyone gets out and looks. Falling Water has its own sound, a symphonic rumble and rustle which resounds from the rocks and rivets your undivided attention. For a bit over twenty years, I’ve watched folks become mesmerized by the falls siren song. Me included.

Another picture of Falling Water

This wet and wild story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see another picture of Falling Water and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Pelsor. Arkansas

Hankins Country Store is alive and well at Pelsor. Yipee!!

The Hankins Country Store at Pelsor when it was open

Unless you are approaching from the east, you will go through Pelsor, Arkansas, where Arkansas Highways 7, 16,  and 123 meet. There’s a post office, a store and a couple of residences at Pelsor and not much more. But you must consider this little place as the epicenter of a phenomenal collection of natures finest attractions. Within about a 12-15 mile radius, you’ll find numerous mountain streams and waterfalls. You’ll also find Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area, an area of nature’s mega sculptures; and Rotary-Ann overlook, one of the finest Ozarks overlooks.

You’ll also find the newly reopened  Hankins Country Store, est. 1922. Hankins was the de rigueur stop for bikers, hunters, hikers and yes, itinerant photographers until it was closed a few years ago. It was like the death of an old friend.

Haw Creek Falls

Haw Creek Falls at Haw Creek National Campground, Hwy. 123 southeast of Pelsor, Arkansas.

Haw Creek Falls at Haw Creek National Campground, Hwy. 123 southeast of Pelsor, Arkansas. The easily accessible campground attracts visitors far and wide.

Southeast of Pelsor, you’ll find Haw Creek Falls National Campground. Like Falling Water, Haw Creek falls are easy to access. The falls are just a few steps from the entrance road to the camp grounds. The water level of the falls is a bit on the low side in the picture above. Take a look at Haw Creek Falls with substantially more water here.

Illinois Bayou

Illinois Bayou north of the Victor Road bridge, east of Arkansas Highway 7.

Illinois Bayou falls north of the Victor Road bridge, east of Arkansas Highway 7.

Scoot down Highway 7 from Pelsor to Victor Road, turn left and travel east until you cross Illinois Bayou on a remote bridge. The gravel road has a number of switchbacks and the trip through this mountainous area is worth the effort. Currently, watch for log trucks. The loggers are cleaning up after last winters devastating ice store. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle, take the third left road past the bridge and go until you see these falls on your left. I’ve never checked the odometer and it seems like it takes forever. You ford one small creek and slither through a long mud hole that never seems to dry up, even late in the summer. A different view of this waterfall was the featured cover photo of an annual report for Bank of the Ozarks.

Brock Cemetery

The grave of Victory B. Keithley, died September 11, 1855 at the age of seven years, two months and 22 days.

The grave of Victory B. Keithley, died September 11, 1855 at the age of seven years, two months and 22 days.

On the way to Illinois Bayou as you round a curve, you see a sign emblazoned with “Brock Cemetery,” and a right pointing arrow. I first visited the cemetery in 1990 and have visited and shot there off and on since then. The road to the cemetery from Victor Road is very steep. You keep your foot on the brakes most of the way down.

In the mid-nineties, I ventured down the road and met one of the caretakers of the cemetery, a Mr. Prince who lived on Victor Road, east of the Illinois Bayou bridge. Mr. Prince was like his name, a gentleman of the first order. I asked him if he knew the story behind the unusual grave in the picture. He said he did and revealed it to me. Victory B. Keithley, daughter of a family headed west by wagon through this valley, took sick and died at the site of this cemetery. The family buried Victory in the grave you see above. After the burial, the family went northeast to Batesville, Arkansas and had the large stones hewed and marker made. The straight line map distance from the cemetery to Batesville is in the neighborhood of 70 miles.  So one could easily add 25 to 30% for curves, nooks crannies and detours. Once the stones were ready, the Keithly family returned to Victory’s grave and finished their job.

That was 154 years ago. Once the first grave was there, the site became a community cemetery and has been ever since. The small stones you see in the background behind the Victory B. Keithley grave are graves of loved ones whose families could afford nothing fancier. The times and people were tough.

Brock Cemetery is actively used and is maintained by members of the community. The sign at the cemetery notifies the reader that the annual cleanup day is the second Saturday in June.

Brock Cemetery is actively used and is maintained by members of the community. The sign at the cemetery notifies the reader that the annual cleanup day is the second Saturday in June.

West of the cemetery

Leading west from the cemetery is a primitive road that is not much better than a trail. Conditions such as these are like dangling bait in front of a an off road equipped pick up owner, virtually irrestible. The road did not improve with length. After negotiating some dry creek beds and fording a small stream, no more than a foot or foot and a half deep (enough to make a very satisfying splash), I came to an unfordable stream. I dismounted and heard the siren sound of rushing water in the distance. I turned to the sounds and walked down a primitive road which doubles as an overflow creek bed and parallels the stream. After about 75 yards, I decided to check out the banks of the bayou or creek, which ever. Fortunately, the banks were no more than 15 yards or so from the road with a minimum of stickers to negotiate to get there.

After squeaking through some broken limbs (recent violent floods you know), I made it to the bank and listened. I could hear the rushing of the water. Wretchedly, it was coming from around a bend.  After dragging wait-a-minute vines, stumbling over grapefruit size rocks and a short ankle-deep wade, about 25 yards later, I rounded the bend and what to my wondering eyes should appear but some white water and its resultant boondocks symphony.

A large rock helps create some white water and the gurgling, rushing souncs that go with it. Candy for the eyes and ears.

A large rock helps create some white water and the gurgling, rushing sounds that go with it. Candy for the eyes and ears. Campers would possibly fight over a place like this.

Just upstream, two branches of the same stream or a couple of different creeks come together over a bed of rocks and gravel. White water and more gurgling. It is a pristine site with natural sound effects.

Just upstream, two branches of the same stream or a couple of different creeks come together over a bed of rocks and gravel. White water and more gurgling. It is a pristine site with natural sound effects. Well worth the short hike.

Every picture you’ve seen here and at Corndancer, save the store image, was shot between 08:30 and 17:30 on May 29, year of our Lord. 2009; all within no more than 10 or 15 miles from the dead center of Pelsor, Arkansas. Not bad for a place whose population struggles to make it into the teens. Just to serves to jerk our chains and remind us of a couple of proven concepts, to wit: Bigger ain’t necessarily better, and left alone, Mother Nature can conjure up some cool stuff. There is a price to pay to see Her stuff in the form of bumps, bruises, scratches, sweat and a nibble or two from honery insects, but it’s worth it. And probably more.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe