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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Looking for leaves, finding a dog


concrete blue tick hound

Click on the hound for the original Weekly Grist post.

A nagging itch for mountain air

The last week of October, 2010, I had this terrible itch to breathe some mountain air, so I conjured up the fantasy that I was about to miss some of the best days of the spectacular Ozarks fall leaf display.

Sufficiently armed with this fallacy, and relishing the thoughts of time in the Ozarks, I headed north for an over-niter to Marshall, the epicenter and main place in mountainous Searcy County, Arkansas.

concrete blue tick hound with basket

Click on the dog for the original Corn Dancer story.

Although I beat the peak of the leaves by a week or so, I was not disappointed, having stumbled across some other cool stuff including a couple of blue tick hounds cast in concrete. Now folks, that’s something most souls will never see. Remember, you saw it here first.

The second day, I meandered west and south from Marshall to find Snowball, Arkansas, the last stop before you head into largely uninhabited mountainous bliss. You’ll find former residences and old home places which show evidence of once being populated — places that spur your imagination and are rife with pregnant photo-ops — the underlying reasons for the trip.

See our original Weekly Grist post for gory details and take a short cyber-trip to the original Corndancer Photo of the Week story to find out how it all started. Also see our Weekly Grist Gallery from October 31, for more trip pictures.

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 joy of hindsight


Petit Jean Mountain sunset

Looking west from a Petit Jean Mountain overlook late in the afternoon in October of 2008. A few minutes before the view was too bright, a few minutes later, it was too dark. The picture was squirreled away in my archives. A question from my wife stirred up a photo search and this is one of my unintended discoveries as I looked. Shot October 2008.

lightning strike

Click on the lightning to see how the story started.

A question from my wife regarding the identity of a tree in our neighbor’s yard sent me on a trip through the archives. After identifying the tree as one of the “hicker nut,” (hickory to the uninitiated), persuasion, I began a search of my archives to find a particular picture of the tree. I found the picture I wanted: the tree in its bright yellow fall plumage. As a bonus, I also found a picture of a lightning strike with the tree in the foreground — and a number of other shots I previously overlooked — some of which I decided were ready to be shown.

So this week, we are wandering through the archives. See the first three pictures in the search on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. You will see the yellow tree, the lightning strike and a companion picture to the one above — and below.

Looking north from Petit Jean state part overlook

Looking north from the lodge observation area at Petit Jean State Park, near Morrilton, Arkansas. The sun is beginning to set. I shot the picture you see at the top of the page from an observation area near the bluffs you see above. I shot both pictures in October of 2008.

Around 30 minutes or so northeast of Petit Jean Mountain is Scotland, Arkansas. There is an old home place there, right on the main drag, sporting an old barn and a house with a dug well in a well shed. When I was in that neighborhood in 2008, I found a unique home place in the boondocks nearby and featured it that week, to the expense of the place in town. Now I am righting that wrong. The well shed is below. See the house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Dug well shed and, Scotland Arkansas

This dug well and shed are part of an old home place right on Arkansas Highway 95 in Scotland, Arkansas. It is not necessary to leave your vehicle to see it. The family barn is in the background. Shot October 2008.

 A bit closer to home, just south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161 is a favorite target of area photographers: A pecan tree tunnel. I like the fall shots best when most of the leaves have dropped and you see the character of the trees. But then, that’s just me.

Pecan tunnel south of Scott Arkansas

Pecan tree tunnel south of Scott, Arkansas on Arkansas Highway 161. November 2009.

 This is not the first time I’ve shot these trees, but this is the first time for this particular picture. See the previous visit, “A tunnel of trees.” The shots are from about the same place as this one in the evening and the next morning.

sailor in tug boat crew chilling in New Orleans

This sailor is pulling crew duty as he watches the proceedings of the 2005 New Orleans French Quarter Fest to his immediate front.

 And finally, way further down south, a crew member of the St. James, a tug boat docked at a jetty on the Mississippi River in New Orleans eyeballed me just as I made this shot. I nodded to him and he nodded approval to me. Just to his front is Waldenberg Park where a big part of the 2005 French Quarter Fest activities are taking place.

Saracen Landing

Click the picture for our Weekly Grist gallery

See our Weekly Grist gallery for more archive pictures

See some flowers, the old house next to the well shed, an old structure that I can’t figure out — old school or old church — which is it? A common place sight that made an uncommon reflection, and a couple of other late evening sunset shots.

Click, go and enjoy.

Thanks for joining me in a trip through the archives.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

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

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

The show goes on. What are you missing?


Ozark mountains near Winslow Arkansas

East of Winslow and West of Combs, Arkansas, in the big middle of the Ozarks we see a pristine winter vista unavailable in warmer months. The well-worn gravel road which meanders past this was, except for yours truly, unpopulated by vehicles. The absent drivers, unfortunately don't know what they missed. The view is south and the setting winter sun is to the right. Soon it will be dark.

In winter months when trees are “nekkid,” Mother Nature reveals some stunning views she conceals during warmer months. Much of what you see is nature’s wild side, camouflaged when the weather is hot and sticky. We started this story on what you might be missing on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see two other winter pictures with other prosaic meanderings, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Back in February 2009, we found a similar set of circumstances in the woods of central Arkansas, near the Ouachita River. You can compare seasonal visions of the outdoors to the movements of a Dvorak symphony, or a Bach concerto. Each has its individual signature. Each stands on its own as a vital part of a greater creation. Each has its audience rewards. Missing a season is tantamount to arriving late at the concert or leaving early, both of which deprive one of the full experience.

Ozark mountain bluff

A bit further east, a rocky Ozark mountain bluff says, " ... look at me." Not a bad idea now. In four months, this will not be visible. The brownish spots are leaves shed from the mountain's population of oak trees. The bluff and the road are separated by a deep depression in mother earth, not visible when trees are fully clothed. I looked over the edge and decided to back up.

The mountains are sparsely populated by people with an independent streak. They simply will not or cannot abide city life. Thank goodness. If these stalwarts abandoned the sticks, we would run out of barns to photograph in a few years.

Ozark mountain barn

Now being used as a barn, I suspect this structure began its life as a home. Times got better, and the protagonists constructed new quarters. Sooner or later, the original domicile was recycled to "adaptive re-use" as a storage facility, or for all intents and purposes, a barn.

On this trip, after these shots, the short winter days ushered in darkness at an exponential rate. I rolled back to the cabin satisfied that I had seen things observed only by a fortunate few. Not a bad feeling.

Sometimes, the photos on the blog loose a bit when uploading. Click here to see high resolution versions of all of this week’s pictures including the Corndancer shots which are just fine on that site, but heck, I included them as well. Also I gave the gallery a 2009 name, but that’s my first mistake this year (heh-heh).

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