A tale of two bridges, twice told


Bridges over white river at DeValls Bluff AR

Click on the bridges for the original Weekly Grist post.

I am sending you back in time to September, 2009  when I visited DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, where you can see something you can’t see anywhere else.

The town is renowned for barbeque at Craigs, just down the street from the Family Pie Shop. Famous may be an understatement for these two establishments, legendary might be more accurate.

bridges at DeValls Bluff AR

Click on the bridge for our original Corndancer story

However, I was not in DeValls Bluff to eat. I was there to shoot their bridges over the White River. The newer one takes U.S. Highway 70 over the river and rises high to accommodate barge traffic. It’s neighbor, not much more than a good rock throw away, is an out-of-service railroad bridge. The two together are quite a sight to see, so I am sending you back there this week. Click to see our original Tale of Two Bridges post.

Since the majority of my fellow Arkansans and the rest of the world are not frequent visitors to DeValls Bluff, I considered it my duty to rectify this cultural deprivation with pictures and a story. If you do happen to go to DeValls Bluff, go there hungry.

Be sure and check out our original Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week story for more info and 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

A new place for an old home


Old dog trot house on pumpkin hill road rison ar

Until spring of 2010, this old home was in shambles, 47 miles or so to the west of where it now sits  on Pumpkin Hill Road southeast of Rison, Arkansas enjoying early morning sun in mid-November. The old structure is the former home of Bob Abbott’s grandfather. Bob thought the old home was worth saving. So he did.

In 2010, Bob Abbott decided it was high time to move his grandfather’s old dogtrot house from Smead, Arkansas to his place on Pumpkin Hill Road southeast of Rison, Arkansas. The old house had been in its original location since the late 1800s and was no longer owned by the family.  It was not in good condition. In fact, Bob was told by many that the old house was well past restoration and that the move was a bad idea. Bob disagreed and finally found an individual who agreed with his disagreement. He made a deal with the current owners and the move was on.

Old dog trot house

Click on the house for more pictures and info.

After come careful jacking and loading, the old house was on a trailer and ready to roll. The trip from Smead to Pumpkin Hill Road was in the neighborhood of 47 miles, mainly over back county roads and secondary state highways. See some details of the pre-load condition of the house in our earlier story: The Old House at Smead.

Fortunately the trip was reasonably uneventful and the moving crew safely delivered the ancient cargo to the Pumpkin Hill location. Then the real fun began: Reassembling a house without all its parts. Some parts were simply beyond salvage and the builders had to substitute newer materials and make them fit.

Before we go too much further. may we suggest that you check out the start of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. You’ll see more pictures and get additional information.

front view of dog trot house showing dog trot breezeway

You are looking down the dogtrot breezeway from the front of the house. The kitchen side is to the right. The bedroom is to the left. This is close to the original structure of the home. In later years, the homeowners closed the dogtrot at both ends and made a big central room. This was a common practice as families grew, an early no-brainer for a quick room addition.

the back side of a dog trot house

Here’s a 180, looking at the dog-trot breezeway from the back porch.

A look inside

Dogtrot houses in their basic form have two rooms separated by a breezeway. One side has sleeping  and “living” quarters, the other side has a kitchen and dining area. In almost all dogtrot houses, the family eventually made additions to the structure. This one is the two-room version.

bedroom in dog trot house

This is the bedroom complete with iron bed, ladder-back chairs and a vintage Singer Sewing Machine. There are two windows, one to the photographer’s back and the one you see to the left. There is also a door to the back porch. The walls, ceiling and floor are original equipment.

bedroon in dogtrot house showing breezeway

Looking at the bedroom from the front corner showing the entrance door from the breezeway. The wide angle lens necessary to capture this image has distorted the door to nearly twice its size.

Interior of dog trot house bedroom

The home entertainment corner of the bedroom consisting of a 78-rpm Victrola and a couple of chairs. The dresser has a picture and wash bowl.

kitchen in dog trot house

The kitchen has the expected cast-iron stove, a table – and chairs for mom and dad – and benches for everyone else. For ultimate convenience of the times there’s also a sink, pantry, and cupboard.

Kitchen in dog trot house

The kitchen from a slightly different angle.

view of dog trot house kitchen

Another view of the kitchen. This time with hanging aprons. Nice touch.

dogtrot house on pumpkin hill road rison ar

Here’s one more look from the front in mid-afternoon sun.

There’s more on Pumpkin Hill Road

We’ve visited Bob Abbott’s place on Pumpkin Hill Road before, but for those of you who are not familiar with the place, you’ll also find The Traveler, a fully restored and working (but not rolling) executive rail car from a bygone era. You can learn more on The Traveler in our original Corndancer story, Traveler’s Rest and our Weekly Grist version of Traveler’s Rest.

The Traveler railroad executive private car

The Traveler was once the private car of the president of the former St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad, known popularly as the “Cotton Belt” line.

Chapel on Pumpkin Hill Road

There’s also a Chapel on the property, popular for small weddings, memorial services, and other church meetings and events.

Tree top reflection in lake

This tree-top reflection in a lake on the Pumpkin Hill Road place looks akin to any number of French impressionist works.

And as a parting shot, there’s a fine lake on the property. I saw a tree-top reflection in the water. It’s the Almighty’s version of French impressionists made available to me. And to you.

Lake on Pumpkin Hill Road

Click on the lake for our special Pumpkin Hill Road gallery

Pumpkin Hill Gallery

We have created a special gallery of 19 pictures of the place on Pumpkin Hill Road which are larger and better resolution than normal web presentation.

If you would like to see the Pumpkin Hill Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures larger and in greater detail this gallery is for you. Click here.

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

Fountain Hill redux


Border Collie, Maggie at Phiilps General Merchandise, Fountain Hill,Arkansas

Maggie, the resident Border Collie at L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, takes a long look at the front door of the store. Is she pondering the sign or checking out an approaching human? Regardless, she is on her A-game. Click on the picture to see our original July, 2009 post.

Margaret Phillips, and her dog Border Collie, Maggie, at L.M. Phillips General Merchandise, Fountain Hill Arkansas

Click on the picture for more on Margaret and Maggie.

Back in July of 2009, I discovered L.M. Phillips General Merchandise at Fountain Hill, Arkansas, one of the few real, live, general stores still alive and well. The Saturday afternoon I was there, the  proprietress, Margaret Phillips was doing a brisk business. Part of her business model is Maggie, a precocious Border Collie who believes her job is to look out for Margaret’s personal safety and to be an alarm system who raises the alarm when suspected interlopers show up.

We are sending you back to Fountain Hill this week for a second look at the story of Margaret and Maggie. You will also see John Cruce and his team of mules pulling a wagon, something you don’t bump into every day. You will also want to see our original Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week page with more pictures and a story.

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

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

Brighten the corner


red lilies in empty lot

These brilliant lilies are brightening their little corner of the world which happens to be in a former location of a family home, now an empty lot. The neighborhood, so far, has seen and gone past its best years. Someone forgot to tell the lilies.

Few of us can  find fault with urban beautification projects and organizations. In this day and time there is an abundant amount of urban acreage which can benefit from the noble efforts these people put forth. Since the prospective areas to benefit far outweigh available resources, we are grateful to our Maker for any help we can get.

I was reminded of that when I spotted these lilies in an empty lot in what I suppose one would call a “transitional” neighborhood. You know the type: a few homes, a few empty businesses, a few operating businesses, a partially filled strip shopping center, a couple of churches, and a Sears store turned public building — the neighbor hood can’t decide what it is.

ground spider in tunnel

Click on the picture and see more of Ms. Spider

Normally at this point in our Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind epistles, we invite you to take a look at a related subject on the current Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com.

This week, the invitation stands, but the subject is totally unrelated. Well maybe a little, these are Spider Lilies. Go to the Photo of the Week page and check out my visit with a ground spider in her home. She was reluctant about the whole thing but finally acquiesced to an up close and personal shoot on her premises.

Back to the lilies

red lilies in abandoned lot

Take a gander at the lilies up close. These are complex boogers that bear close examination. Each flower is akin to a free standing arts and sciences gallery.

Mother Nature has her own program of beautification, manifested in surviving plants, which for whatever fortunate reasons, are not molested by surviving humans. These lilies are propagating and bursting forth with beauty where we need it most. The tour buses will miss ’em but us serfs who ply the less-traveled public streets can benefit if we will take the time to notice. And further, to alert your friends.

Brighten the corner where you are

As I looked at the lilies, I harkened back to my “up-brangin’.” Giving the flowers a good once-or-twice-over, I found myself humming the old hymn, “Brighten the corner where you are.” Being one to share, I looked around and found a video with old church scenes and Burl Ives singing the hymn in his fine Southern Gospel mode, chased by Willie Nelson singing the “Unclouded day.” You will tap your feet.

 

red lilies in an old home place

Here are the lilies with a bit more of their environment. Mother Nature’s perfect balance of complimentary colors (remember what those are?)

The lilies and I appreciate you dropping by. Now brothers and sisters, let us go forth and brighten the respective corners where we are.

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

Back to the Cossatot


Tommy Wingard in rapids on the Cossatot River

World-class kayaker Tommy Wingard negotiates Class-V rapids on the Cossatot River in western Arkansas after hurricane Gustav dumped a plethora of water on the river in September. 2008. Click on the picture to see our original 2008 post and pictures.

After our epistle on Isaac last week,  I recalled another encounter with the tailings of a gulf hurricane, to wit: Gustav in mid-September, 2008. After watching Gustav plod into Arkansas, I watched his progress on radar and noticed that he would dump a deluge on west central Arkansas. That portends well for the Cossatot River’s reputation for it’s Class-V stretch of rapids in periods of high water.

Jason Mellor in rapids in Cossatot River

Click the pic for the original Corndancer story.

This week we revisit that trip. I went in that direction hoping to encounter some canoeists or kayakers. Little did I  know that I would meet my friend, and super-photographer Chuck Haralson, who had made arrangements for three world-class kayakers to shoot the rapids for us. Few get to shoot athletes at this level, so I was very grateful.  Click here for our original post.

Talk about luck. Also be sure and check our our Corndancer Photo of the Week page for that trip.

Thanks for visiting Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html I hope I am not wearing you out on this story since I sent you there in January of this year, but still licking our wounds from Isaac, it seemed like a good recall.

Water woes again


rice irrigation in Arkansas

Thirsty rice requires a lot of water. Here in LA, most of the water for rice comes from wells. Those wells are pumping like crazy now, just like they were in June 2009 when I first shot this picture. Click on the picture to see the original “Water Woes” article and pictures.

Here in LA (lower Arkansas), in the early months of the summer of 2009, many of us were convinced that the heat and drying conditions were experiencing were world class, off-the-chart, bad. Little did we know what was lying in store for us three years later in the summer of 2012, so this week we are sending you back to our June 28, 2009 post to compare notes. You may also want to peruse the original Corndancer Photo of the Week treatise and pictures on the same subject.

Our current conditions of day after day of 100 degree plus temperatures, sparse, if any rain, and blistering sun make those days in 2009 seem like a minor inconvenience. The truth be known, many of us observe these untoward phenomena from air conditioned comfort with our fingers crossed that the faithful old a/c, however burdened, will hold on.

Despite our griping, our exposure to the elements usually consists of a sweaty traipse through a torrid parking lot to a vehicle, the interior of which could be temporarily leased to a local bakery. We open the door, mutter naughty mutterings regarding the oven-like conditions and shortly thereafter whisper a small thank you to the Almighty for letting the air conditioner blow a north wind in our grateful faces. Things could be worse.

Oh, and by the way, just in case you did not notice the new page on this site in the main menu above, see our new page on Photo Manipulation.

Thanks for dropping by,

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