Rock houses and other recent finds


Old rock buildings

I could not find anyone who could give me information on these buildings at Hickory Flat, Arkansas. The larger one strongly resembles some jails I’ve seen. I absolutely haven’t a clue about the smaller building. Hickory Flat was as flat as a pool table but I spied no immediately recognizable hickory trees. So much for batting .500.

Rocks rocked back in the day

Up in the hinterlands of north Arkansas, toward the Ozarks, years ago, rocks (now more fashionably called “native stone”) were a popular building material. You see can still see examples of rock commercial buildings and rock houses in small towns and rural areas up there.

There was a lot to be said for rocks. There were plenty of them and for the most part they were free, depending on where and when you harvested them. Think of the great outdoors in that case, as Home Depot or Lowes with no checkout stands — substituting sweat, grunts, groans, and sore backs as the currency of choice.

Old dog trot house

Click to see more this old dogtrot house

Before we delve further on this rocky road, we suggest you go to the Photo of  the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this trip started to see a fine example of another historically popular residential structure style, a dogtrot house at Cleveland, Arkansas.

There’s enough of it left to give you an idea of how things were. We’ll wait here while you take a look at this old structure from several angles.

older rock buildings at Hickory Flat Arkansas

Here’s a second look at the old Hickory Flat rock buildings. The small window has heavy hardware cloth and no glass. There is a big hole in the hardware cloth. Was someone breaking in — or out?

Further west, I found this no-longer-occupied rock house, north of Hector, Arkansas, way back in the boondocks. The structure appears to be in relatively good condition. After all, short of impact or explosion, what’s going to hurt a rock?

Old rock house in the Arkansas Ozarks

It’s been a while since anyone lived here, but the old house appears to be in pretty good condition. At least from the outside. Looks like a good place for old tires and other unneeded stuff one is not yet ready to finally jettison.

Here’s another rock house, with evidence of an architectural style that emerged in the late forties and fifties, the “picture window.” You don’t see many rock houses with one of those. Notice the cut wires for electrical service at the roof line to the right. The house is on Highway 110 southeast of Heber Springs. It has a big ol’ home-place tree in the back yard.

old rock house on hwy 110 in arkansas

This old house demonstrates a masonry work-around: If you run out of rocks or don’t have the right size or shape, make yourself a rock out of cement. Take a look at the bottom of both sides of the front porch.

Another dogtrot house

I found an old dogtrot house on Highway 110 southwest of Heber Springs, Arkansas. As with most surviving dogtrots, the breezeway was closed to make another room, basically a historical no-brainer if you needed additional enclosed space. This one has a nice old “home-place” tree and an in-ground storm shelter to boot. A great place for spiders and bugs.

old dog trot house with home-place tree

Like most dogtrot houses occupied for the long term, the dogtrot breezeway on this one has been closed to make one or more additional rooms. The old home place tree tells us that both have been around a while.

In the next picture, you see evidence that someone is repairing the old home. There is a concrete form set up on the right hand side of the porch and a couple of QuickCrete bags on the front port bench. And, one of the porch columns has been replaced. Perhaps this house will survive.

Old dog trot house with storm shelter in yard

At a slightly different angle you see the in-ground storm shelter which makes an apparent final resting place for a bicycle skeleton. Also, you can see the add-on at the back of the house. There’s hardly a surviving dogtrot that does not have one or more additions.

This old residence has a storm shelter which looks like a mini-turret from the Maginot Line or the Nazi Atlantic wall of WWII fame and/or infamy (one failed miserably, and the other was a creation of the bad-guys).  The house has long since been unoccupied and there’s no telling what awaits one in the storm shelter.

pill box storm shelter at old house in arkansas

The storm shelter at this long abandoned house on Highway 25 way north of Heber Springs resembles a WWII “pill-box” fortification. Long abandoned, it is probably home to a full compliment of creepy-crawlers.

Old barn and giant canine

Not far from the pill-box storm shelter I spied the sun-illuminated roof of this old barn. I ventured an inquiry to the residents of the property. I parked in the front yard and headed to the back door as any self-respecting Southerner will do. When I exited the truck a large dog rounded the corner headed my way. I believe he is part German Shepherd, part Mastiff, and part Tyrannosaurus  Rex.

Old barn under revnovation

The old barn in Bud’s yard shows some signs of recent attention. Perhaps it is a lofty man-cave under construction. The Red, White, and Blue lets others know where these folks stand. While there are miles to go before they sleep on this renovation, these folks have made a start — which is more than can be said for most of the old barns I see.  The late afternoon October sun lends a nice touch to the scene.

As the giant approached, I extended my time-honored greeting to strange dogs, “Hey Poody-Pood, what’s happenin’?” To our mutual good-fortune, he interpreted my kindly proffered greeting in the spirit in which I extended it. His Louisville Slugger size tail began to flagellate.

Before I could take another step, his front paws were just shy of my shoulders and I received a face-full of his favorite greeting. I made my way to the back door with my requests. The residents gave me the boy’s name as I sought dispensation to photograph their barn. His name is “Bud,” and I got reluctant approval to make my pictures. Unfortunately, Bud was such a moving target, I did not get a picture.

Home place tree

When I Google “Home Place Tree,” the first reference is to that term in a story I wrote earlier. That said, I suppose I can lay claim to the term. Those of you who follow these posts have heard the term more than once. The truth is you see more home place trees all by their lonely than you do with the home to which they supplied shade. In this case, the home is still there, but on its last legs. Sooner or later, you will see only the tree, so take a good look at what’s left of the original arrangement and use your imagination.

Old house with home place tree

Many, many older rural home owners always left a tree or two close to their residence, hence my coined term “home place tree.” Here is the original arrangement. The tree will no doubt outlast the home.

A silo at last

I recently lamented to Ebenezer Bowles, the chief cook and bottle washer at Corndancer dot-com, that I longed to see a silo in my view-finder. The Almighty must have taken notice of the conversation. In His Divine bent to take good care of fools and drunks, He put in front of an unused, but nicely preserved silo in a perfect setting and perfect light. I submit the image as prima-facie evidence that Divine intervention is alive and well.

Silo in pasture

This great silo is west of Highway 16, south of Pangburn, Arkansas.

Thanks for dropping by,

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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There goes the neighborhood (again)


old house falling down

Click on the old house for our original post.

A couple of years ago about this time I wandered into Lincoln County, Arkansas and plied its gravel roads in search of a story. I found a couple of old houses barely visible from the road — infested with a cubic acre or so of mosquitoes.

Fortunately I had slathered my person liberally with Deep Woods Off, AKA “skeeter-dope” in LA (lower Arkansas), so the pesky winged miscreants got close, but did not taste my blood. I was tipped off to the old houses by a big “home place tree.” See the tree and read the start of this story on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com.

While I was shooting the crumbling ruins, a big storm was brewing to the west, a fact I discovered after I left the mosquitoes and piled back into the truck. The storm was close enough that I got a couple of storm shots. Then the emergency broadcast squealer sounded and announced that certain parts of Jefferson County to the north were under a tornado warning. The description of the subject real estate included my neighborhood so I lit a shuck toward home.

On the outskirts of Pine Bluff, the radio guy said the storm had veered east. I called my spousal unit and discovered that our residence was safe. Thus relieved, I decided to chase the storm. The chase was fruitless as far as seeing a tornado, but I did manage to grab a few storm shots, which you can see on our original Weekly Grist post. When you get there, be sure and click on the Weekly Grist Gallery link at the end of the story for more pictures.

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

Finding what’s there


Garage with smiley face

Some things you simply do not expect to see. A 9-foot tall Smiley on a garage door is right at the top the unexpected list. Seeing it is one of the rewards of an unplanned trip with no direction in mind.

This adventure started east of Bismark, Arkansas where I joined my in-laws for a niece’s 28th birthday celebration. I enjoyed a great lunch, a fun gift opening, and a good visit before departing. When I left the party with no plans or a clue where I was going, I had this realization: If I was to be home by dark, I had about 4-1/2 hours to meander around the territory before heading east toward my humble abode. Here’s what happened.

close up of horses

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com

The first thing I did was to temporarily ignore my sister-in-law’s admonition to turn north on Highway 128 on Highway 84 toward Hot Springs, Arkansas. Instead, I turned south. In so doing, I found the Smiley garage above.

Before we go too much further, may I invite you to get in on the start of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. You will see a couple of pictures of a curious horse and a great old barn on Ragweed Valley Road in Garland County, Arkansas.

After finding a good gravel road that eventually connected  with Highway 128 north and then making that connection, I discovered that my sister-in-law’s advice was well given. I’m glad I listened.

mountain highway vista

Looking north on northbound Highway 128 descending from Jacks Mountain. Shot while stopped with a point-and-shoot held out of the truck window.

Highway 128 winds up Jacks Mountain from south to north. When the descent starts, a fine mountain vista appears — with no place to pull over and photograph it. Traffic was light, so I stopped and I held my recently acquired Nikon point-and-shoot out of the window and got a couple of quick shots, one of which you see below. See the other one, a bit wider, in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Avoiding the thick Independence Day weekend holiday traffic in Hot Springs, I headed West on Amity Road, formerly Highway 192 according to my outdated map. I found a memorable home-place tree, the right side of which was missing, along with most all other vestiges of the former home place.

large tree with fallen limb

An old home place tree on Amity Road west of Hot Springs. The property owner happened by while I was shooting and explained that this one is the survivor of two similar trees on the home place of his father and mother. Each had "their" tree. The home and the other tree are gone, as is the east side of this tree.

 See more of this tree in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Eventually I made my way to U.S. Highway 270, the way home. I hit 270 at Crystal Springs and immediately pulled into the Crystal Springs General Store. There I found the good ol’ boy elixir for a  hot, sweltering afternoon, a big Barq’s Root Beer ice-cold. Now refreshed, I had to admire the straightforward security statement at the entrance to the store. This sign is old. You can detect the sign painter’s brush marks, a thing of the past.

Crystal Springs General Store

This low-tech security system has worked well for years so the proprietor of the Crystal Springs General store says.

 Sometimes lack of direction is a pleasant respite from highly focused, pressure-cooker routines. It does well to recharge one’s system and in this case, exposes you to things you would not have seen otherwise. The rub is, you have to return to organized effort, so you can afford to temporarily abandon it again.

old barn

Click the barn for more pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

See more pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery

See a neat little barn, the pregnant Jenny, another shot of the horses on Corndancer, a cool country church and cemetery, more views of the home place tree and a house with a gravel yard and hundreds of trinkets in our Weekly Grist Gallery. Lots of pix, lots of fun.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

There goes the neighborhood


There goes the neighborhood

Not surprisingly, this is the worst house in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood consists of two houses. The other one is in somewhat better condition than this one, but not much. Someone at some time picked up and left, and never came back. We wonder why, but probably not loose any sleep over it. The old house and its neighbor can be found on County Road 49 in Lincoln County, Arkansas, not far from Yorktown. A lot of folks gladly tell you they are from Yorktown, which consists of a barbeque cafe, a gin and a bridge over Bayou Bartholomew. At 375 miles in serpentine length, Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou on the planet. I have never figured out exactly where Yorktown stops and starts, but it looms large as a community.

The site is marked by a large “home-place tree,” which is destined to far outlast the crumbling homes. See the other house and the tree on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, a very cool thing to do. Click here to go there. We’ll be right here waiting when you get back.

collapsing house

Alas front porch, I knew ye well. Get a good look. The house is nearly history.

The retreat from this tar-paper sided house may have been hasty. At the bottom of the back opening is a cardboard box full of washed and capped jars, some of which are mason jars. Anyone who went to that trouble would probably have taken the box along as the departure unfolded. Perhaps they were one step in front of someone who did not have their best interests at heart. In that case, leaving the jars and the box springs may have been OK.

Good news, bad news

The good news is, it’s late April and early May in Arkansas. The bad news is, it’s late April and early May in Arkansas. Opposing forces of nature give rise to these observations. After a winter that finally departed, kicking, clawing and objecting as it bade farewell, a magnificent spring made its grand entry. Replete with blooms, bees, buds, and temperate days. the season, despite a more intense than normal pollen assault wasn’t all that shabby. There was enough rain to make nice waterfalls and most of it eschewed the weekend to make its arrival. As of about ten days ago, that honeymoon with spring was over. It’s thunderstorm and tornado time in the neighborhood.

As I pursued this Saturday afternoon trip, the weather worsened, mainly north of where I was at the time. As a result, the cloud formations were dramatic, not a bad thing for a photographer.

storm over fields

The storm is gathering over this field just west of Grady, Arkansas.

As I traipsed along, I turned on the radio for a tune or two, and lo and behold, the music was replaced by a TV meteorologist informing this part of the world that southwest Pine Bluff, Arkansas was precariously close to being struck by a tornado. Since that’s where I live, I pointed the truck north and depressed the accelerator. And kept my ears glued to the radio.

storm and traffic light

You are looking in the general direction of my residence a few miles from here. This is the junction of US Highways 65 and 425, southeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

As I reached the outskirts of town, the news improved. The core of the storm had moved east and according to my spousal unit, the house was still standing and all occupants, one woman and a herd of animals, were alive, well and taking on nourishment. That being so, and the talking heads were broadcasting a blow by blow account of the storms progress, I decided to chase it.

Arkansas river bridge

The US Highway 79 bridge over the Arkansas River, north of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Turns out, the chase was futile and I terminated the pursuit on the outskirts of Altheimer, Arkansas and headed home on US Highway 79. Taking that route, gave me a consolation prize far better than a storm shot, of which there are probably millions. Since the Lord is continues to take care of fools and drunks, He saw fit to put me on this bridge, with no traffic in sight for miles under the conditions you see above. Not being one to argue with providence, the rest was up to me. The scene was there, and I recorded it. There’s something to be said for a higher power.

But wait, there’s more in our Weekly Grist Gallery!

Each week, we post high resolution versions of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures. This week in color and black and white. These pictures are larger and at a better resolution. Click here to see these pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

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