Piece Of Arkansas In Washington

The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., when it was completed in 1888, was the tallest structure in the world at just over 555 feet 5 1/8 inches tall. It lost that title to the Eiffel Tower the very next year. It is still the world's tallest stone structure, the tallest obelisk, and taller than any other structure in D.C. It's been in the news lately due to the damage it suffered during the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Washington area on August 23, 2011.

The monument was designed by Robert Mills and construction started in 1848. However, it was not completed until 1884, 30 years after his death. If you look close, you can see a slight difference in color of the marble starting at about 150 feet up because construction was stopped for a number of years due to the Civil War and a lack of funds.

While short on funds, somebody unknown to history, came up with the wonderful idea of soliciting blocks of marble from the different states and other sources. In all, 188 stones were shipped from around the world and used in building the monument. One state that contributed a large block was Arkansas. The block was used inside the monument and it can still be seen and easily recognized as you go up the stairs. How do you recognize it? Well, it has "Arkansas" carved in big, block letters on it!

Stone marker on the hill marks the spot.
A stone mason named Peter Beller moved to Arkansas from Alabama in 1833. In 1834,he and three brothers with the last name of Harp dug a 4' X 3' X 2' hunk of marble out of a hill beside Arkansas Highway 7. The stone was hauled on a sledge by a team of twenty oxen sixty miles across the Ozark and Boston Mountains to the Arkansas River. It was sent by barge to New Orleans, then by sail to the Potomac Basin and on to the monument.

Around 1840, Peter acquired the land  and built a mill at the site. Although never officially named, Beller's Mill prospered and grew until the civil war, when the men were pressed into service and their families fled to larger towns to escape attacks by bushwhackers, scalawags and other assorted ne'er do wells.

Inscription on the marker.
In 1870 a man named Willcockson set up another mill there, and a town grew which bore his name. Mineral waters and healing springs contributed to the town's prosperity. Advances in medicine in the 20th century reduced the flow of visitors, and the town faded. Albert Raney and Sons bought the land, changed the town's name to Marble Falls, and diverted the cold mountain spring water into a trout hatchery, which they operated for over 20 years. In the late 1960's, a group of Harrison businessmen bought the trout farm and built an amusement park around it. The theme park was based on characters and locations invented and popularized by Al Capp in his daily comic strip "Li'l Abner." To promote the park, the name of the town was changed again, to "Dogpatch."

If you didn't know, you would never know 
as you drive by.

So where exactly did this Washington Monument chunk of marble come from? Right across the road from the now closed Dogpatch Amusement Park. Other than a small stone marker with a plaque on it, the hill looks just like all the other hills in this area. In fact, if you don't stop to see the marker, you'll drive right past and never know that a piece of this hill is part of an American icon.

The Beating Of My Heart

For a couple of weeks, I hadn't been feeling so well. Not the usual cold or sinus troubles or the flu or the I hate my job so I've got the blah's feeling. It was more of a general "somethings not right, but I'm not sure what it is" feeling. Then I woke up a couple of times in the night and the sides of my hands and feet would be asleep, all tingly pins & needles until I flexed them and got the blood flowing again. In my case, that's not a good sign at all. I have a bad ticker and have already been to the other side and back so it's best I not push my luck. Then the other evening I was doing a little power walking exercise and I felt a bit of pain in my chest and my left arm, a pain that's all too familiar. Time to get my butt to the doc. And the doc said it's time to get my butt to the hospital for a coronary angiogram to figure out what's wrong.

Turn's out, my body had been busy growing scar tissue over one of the stents I have which had started clogging it up. The doc did a roto-rooter job and then inserted another stent inside the original two and opened it up wider. This story isn't about that though. Well, not exactly. It's about Conway Regional Hospital and my "interesting" experience while spending two days in this fine health care institution.

Check-in was quick, easy, and except for the $450 upfront co-pay I had to put on my credit card right then and there, not an issue. I was escorted to a prep room where I lay on a bed for a while looking at the lady directly across the aisle looking back at me. A pretty nurse brought me one of those "Hey, look at my naked butt" gowns and said to take off everything but my socks. I got an armband with my name and other information banded around my wrist and then another nurse came in and stuck me with an IV in the back of my hand. That one hurt. A really nice guy came by and put a bunch of cold, circular  electrodes on and around my chest and ran two EKG tests, took my blood pressure, heart rate, and temp. In comes another nurse to take  some blood. Saying my armband was in the way, she ripped it off, stuck another needle in me and walked off with 2 vials of blood. Don't ask my why she couldn't use the IV line that I was already stuck with. Maybe she just needed needle practice and I was handy.

For those who don't know, an angiogram is where a thin catheter line is inserted into a vein in your groin area and snaked up through the vein into your heart. And that means no hair at the point where they cut into you. After receiving a replacement armband, an aspirin and a Valium, the prettiest nurse yet came at me with a razor in her hand. Thankfully, the Valium  was kicking in as she gently performed her assigned duty or an embarrassing situation may have come up.

After being wheeled into an operating room, I told the nurses not to be peeking under my gown while I was out and then I woke up in the recovery room. As they wheeled me into room 322, I had enough sense about me to realize my right wrist hurt and there was a plastic band tightly around it. Asking the nurse about it, I found out that instead of going in through the groin, they had done the procedure in the new manner of cutting a hole and going in through the right wrist. So this left me with the rather interesting dilemma for no good reason of being half bald in a very personal area. Do I shave the rest or just run around half-n-half for a while?

The nurses left after telling me if I needed anything to just push the little call button. The wife left to go pick up Youngest-daughter and I was left to amuse myself for a while raising and lowering the bed. While pushing myself into a sitting position, I accidentally bent my right wrist back and it started bleeding. I'm taking a blood thinner so it's not really dangerous, but when I bleed, it doesn't stop right away. And it didn't this time either. I pushed the call button and watched the blood start rolling down my arm. I pushed the button again and again and soon the blood had covered my arm and was dripping on my gown and on my blanket. Twice I saw a nurse walk by my room and I called out to them, but they didn't stop. Eventually my nurse stuck her head in the door, saw me holding up my bloody arm and said, "Oh my God!" After cleaning it off and rearranging that funky plastic bandage on my wrist, she found that the call button had not been hooked up. Good thing I was just bleeding out and it wasn't a real emergency or anything.

By now it was almost 7:00 and all I'd had to eat all day was a small bowl of Cheerios. Evidently somebody forgot to tell the kitchen I would be hanging around for the night. My dear, wonderful wife made a Quiznos run and brought me back a sandwich. I had just finished wolfing it down when my night nurse brought in a food tray. She said someone hadn't entered me in the computer so she had them make one up for me. I appreciated it so much that I ate most of that also. By 8:30, wife and daughter had left and by 9:00 I was sound asleep. Thankfully, my night nurse woke me up at 10:00 to tell me she would be my night nurse and if I needed anything, just ring the call button.

I don't know exactly what time it was; dark-time-thirty for sure, but I was once again sound asleep when I became aware of a claw that had ahold of my foot and was dragging me off the bed! Before I became fully awake, I realized it was the monster that lives under all beds and comes out only in the night and it had me by the foot, pulling me down into it's dark, stinking lair to suck out my blood and do all kinds of horrible, unspeakable monstery things to me! Then the monster asked me in a soft female voice if I was OK and I slowly realized it was just my night nurse, Vicky, shaking my foot to make sure I wasn't dead or anything. Three more times during the night, the ever vigilant Vicky woke me to take my blood pressure and make sure I didn't die on her watch. At 7:00 I woke up again realizing that room 322 is directly across the hall from the utility closet and the door slams every time one of the cleaning crew  goes in or out. I gave up trying to sleep, turned on Good Morning America and waited for breakfast.

At 9:30, I asked Tee, my new day nurse, what time breakfast was served. 8:30 was her answer. I kindly pointed out it was 9:30 and I hadn't gotten mine. The wife arrived and offered to get me some breakfast, but not wanting to repeat the 2 suppers scene of the night before, I just asked her for coffee. Conway Regional Hospital's outpatient waiting room coffee sucks. Thankfully it's free.  At 10:00, Tee brought me a breakfast tray of scrambled eggs, dry toast, coffee and milk. Tee said I hadn't been entered into the computer so the kitchen didn't know to make me a tray. She had them make up an extra one for me.

A nice cleaning lady came in and while watching her give the room a quick wipe down and mopping, I noticed the bottom area of several of the walls. They looked like a thousand things on rollers had knocked into them, worn off all paint and gouged out chunks. It certainly didn't look clean or sanitary. I had noticed a couple of drips of what looked like cheese sauce on the floor and some corn flakes laying up against the walls so I hadn't been exactly impressed with the cleanliness anyway, but when she left and the dripped cheese sauce and corn flakes were still on the floor, I was a bit concerned. I expect hotel rooms to be clean, but you NEED hospital rooms to be clean. If you are in the hospital, you've got enough problems of your own - you don't need to be catching someone else's'!

After she left, I had occasion to use the restroom. They had pumped me full of liquids the afternoon before to flush out the dye used in the angiogram so I had used the room several times the night before, but this was the first time I had turned on the light and really looked around. I noticed a couple more corn flakes on the floor (corn flakes in the bathroom?), but what I saw in the shower really upset me. Hair. Lots of hair. Pubic hair. And it wasn't mine! Not any of what was left of mine anyway. There were pubes on the floor and much to my amazement, even on the wall about waist height. What the hell was this? Rocket pubes! I mean, how does a pube get there? If my pubes were shooting off like rockets and my crotch was going bald, I would definitely know there was something seriously wrong and I would immediately get myself to a doctor. And then it dawned on me, rocket pube dude WAS in the hospital! Whatever they had, I sure didn't want. When Tee came back later to get my breakfast tray, I asked her to go look in the shower. She was very apologetic and said she would let housekeeping know. When I told her they had already cleaned, she said she would call the head of housekeeping.  True to her word, it was only a few minutes later that the same cleaning lady came back and did a thorough job in the shower and got the corn flakes off the bathroom floor. Later on, the Director of Housekeeping stopped by, apologized, kind of made a few excuses, but did say he would get to the bottom of this and the next time I'm there, it would be different. Now that was real comforting.

The wife had called my doctor's office about 10:00 that morning and was told the doc was on the floor making his rounds already and he should be with me shortly. Of course I had to wait to see him before I could check out. So I waited. And waited. And low and behold, I was served lunch right on time. Evidently, now that I was about to be released, I was in the kitchen's computer. I read a book on my iPad. I watched episode after episode of the Law & Order SUV marathon on TV. At 2:55, the wife called the doctor's office again to see if he had forgotten about me and was told he now wouldn't be around until about 6:00.  At 3:00, the good wife made a coffee run - to a coffee shop, not that swill in the waiting room and at exactly 3:02, my doctor walked in my room. Sure glad his office keeps up with him so good. He told me everything he had done to me. Told me to be on bed rest for 3 or 4 days. And then he told me that if the same thing happened again, the next time would require open heart surgery. Now there's something to look forward to. After that bit of good news, he told me I could go home.

I called my wife to come back quick, the plastic band was cut off my wrist and a pressure bandage put on in it's place, the needles were pulled out of me, the circular electrodes were unhooked and peeled off, and I swapped my drafty, embarrassing gown for pants and shirt. I was home in time to meet Youngest-daughter as she got off the bus from school. I'm good to go again and her smile when she saw me and the way she ran into my arms made me smile all over. It was good to be home again.

Loafer's Glory

On the way from somewhere to somewhere else, I found this sign on the side of the road and thought, "Now that's my kind of church!"

If you must know, the town where this is located is named Fallsville, deep in the Buffalo River country of the Ozarks. The first name of the little town of Fallsville was Loafer's Glory, named such because it was a stopping place for men going down to the river bottoms to pick cotton. This area is even today very rural and peopled by individuals who are descendants of the southern Appalachians who settled here as early as 1825. The rugged terrain, few roads and no electricity until the late 1930's kept the people isolated. They learned to make what they needed and most of those old skills have survived. Oak furniture, handcrafted baskets, and pieced quilts were some of the homemade things every cabin had and which Ozark artisans still craft today.

The facts for the origin of the name may be a bit boring or anti-climatic, but it's still a cool name. If I ever get the little retirement cabin I want deep in the wooded mountains somewhere with a rocking chair on the front porch and a good dog to lay down beside me as I put miles on the rocker, I do believe I'll steal the name Loafer's Glory and carve it into a sign to hang over the front door. And that will be that.

What A Rush!

An honest to goodness true ghost town has two qualities; the existence of structures and no people. There are a number of almost ghost towns, close to ghost towns, used to be ghost towns, and fake ghost towns, but Marion county Arkansas claims the only true ghost town between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Rush, a once prosperous zinc mining town obtained true ghost town status over 40 years ago when the last person moved away and abandoned their home in the late 1960's. In 1972, the National Park Service obtained Rush when it was included in lands acquired for the creation of the Buffalo River National Park System.

During the early 1880's, prospectors came to the Rush area searching for silver mines they heard about from Indian legends. Soon, they found shiny metallic flakes in the rocks. Thinking they had struck silver, news of the discovery quickly got out and the rush was on to Rush.

The rock smelter built in 1886.
In a short period of time, the area was home to numerous mines with names like White Eagle, Monte Cristo, Red Cloud, Beula, Edith, and the largest, Morning Star. In late 1886, a rock smelter was built to extract the silver, but during a test run in January, 1887, green zinc oxide fumes were emitted and the silver failed to collect in the molds. With no silver being found, the men who owned the land, built the smelter and owned the Morning Star mine sold their holdings for a fraction of what they had paid and left town. Then someone figured out that what the men had thought was silver was actually zinc, a valuable mineral which has many uses including being alloyed with copper to produce brass. The new owners of the Morning Star became wealthy and in 1892, a 13,000 pound zinc nugget they found was exhibited and won blue ribbons at the Chicago World's Fair.

General store built in 1891 remained in 
business until 1956.

When World War 1 began, with the demand for brass and copper shell casings, the price for zinc shot up 300%, the mines expanded and more people moved to Rush. In 1916, the town was incorporated with a population of over 5,000. The Taylor-Medley General Store, built in 1891 by Bill Taylor to serve the community, became the location of the post office and served as the hub of the community where you could buy groceries, receive and send letters and packages, and sit a spell on the large, covered front porch and visit. You could also get married here because the store owner was, in addition to shop keeper and post master, also the justice of the peace.

Front porch of the store where people met 
and did business.

With the end of WW1, the zinc market cratered. The mines began shutting down and the residents began moving away. Eventually even the Morning Star mine closed and that spelled the eventual death of Rush. The store, then operated by Lee Medley, was the last business to close it's doors in 1956. The last human holdout moved away sometime in the late 1960's and Rush began its life as a ghost town.

Row of homes built in the early 1900's.
Getting to Rush is pretty easy as long as you don't miss the turn. Located in a very rural area 5 miles off of Arkansas 14 just east of Caney, there is but one little sign indicating where you should turn off of AR-14 and it is pretty easy to miss. The 2-lane (more like 1 1/2 lane) road is blacktop most of the way, but the last mile or so is dirt so you might think twice before going if it has rained recently.

While there, I found it to be a really interesting place; way off the beaten path, quiet, full of history. The houses have a fence along the road in front of them, but more symbolic than functional, it's easy enough to get around it. Hopefully it will do enough of a job to keep out any vandals who manage to find the place. After walking around for over an hour with no other person to bother me, I took a water break and while sitting on a rock next to my truck, a butterfly landed on my shoulder. I slowly turned my head and looked at it looking at me. I've heard it's good luck so I didn't want to disturb it. It finally flew off, but only went down around my feet to some little bitty flowers so I took a picture of it before it went on its merry way. A few minutes later I hoped in the pickup to leave and as I drove down the dirt road a ways, I rounded a curve and a baby deer was standing in the middle of the road. I stopped and the mamma deer immediately jumped out of the bushes and both of them ran across and into the bushes and trees on the other side. I drove slowly and had to keep a sharp eye to find them hidden away. When I did, I stopped again and had just enough time to take a picture before mamma deer protectively put herself between me and her baby. I quietly told her, "It's ok. I'm not going to hurt your baby" and let the pickup idle on down the road a ways. By the time I turned around, they were gone.

Home to a family at one time.  I wonder 
what became of them.

My lucky butterfly

Look close and you will find a mamma deer
 and her doe.

Booger Hollow & The Double-Decker Outhouse

Sign leading to Booger Hollow Trading Post
Yes, Virginia, there really is a place called Booger Hollow and yes, it really does have a two-story outhouse. Situated in Pope County on Scenic Arkansas Highway 7, Booger Hollow Trading Post was built in 1961. Booger Hollow, with a "Population 7, count'en one coon dog"  perfectly represents the barefoot hillbilly image the state has tried to live down for many years. Honestly though, there's still enough truth in the myth that the stereotype isn't going away anytime soon.

A hollow (holler) is a narrow valley between hills and mountains. The word "Booger" is derived from the ancient Welsh word "Bwg," which meant "to scare." Eventually the word evolved into "Boo," Bogus," and "Booger," all of which have slightly different meanings, but all indicate something frightening or unknown.

In the 1800's, the road from Russellville to Dover ran through the Bull Frog Valley to the geographic site of where Booger Hollow is today. On either side of the hollow are two cemeteries. Locals believed the area was haunted by the inhabitants of the cemeteries. Few people went traipsing around by themselves after dark. The name Booger Hollow stuck and that's how it's known to this day.

The Booger Hollow Trading Post is situated on a mountain top about 10 miles from the actual Booger Hollow. At least the buildings are anyway. I recently took a little day trip to see this place with my own eyes and found that sadly, after 44 years in business, the doors were shut and it is no more. In early 2004, several people offered to buy the property from Charlotte Johnson, the owner. All indicated they wanted to keep the place open. After years of hard work with little time off, she wanted to slow down, to spend time with her family, so she sold to a couple from Green Forest. Unfortunately, they didn't make the payments and the place closed down. Charlotte got the place back, but the land beneath the buildings somehow legally went to someone else and although there were several attempts to re-open, the doors have remained closed since late that year.

Front porch of the post store.
In it's heyday, the trading post consisted of the post itself, which featured hillbilly themed knick-knacks like corn-cob pipes, polished rocks, painted hand-saws, hand-made quilts, and hand-carved walking sticks. It also sold hand-crafted items and goods like honey with a piece of the comb in the jar, sorghum, and lye soap. Items like the "Hillbilly Chicken Dinner" (a wooden box you opened only to find a piece of corn glued inside) and the "Hillbilly Lighter" (a wooden box which contained a match) were popular sellers. It also held a post office and sold fishing bait. Next door to the post was a restaurant called The Chuckwagon which featured high-browed fair like the Boogerburger, the Boogerdog, ham sandwiches and frito chili pie. There was also a small store that sold cured hams. Perhaps the main attraction though was the two story outhouse. The lower level was a real "working" outhouse, but the upper level was always closed, with a sign on the front which said, "upstairs closed til we figure out plummin."

There used to be red and white signs, starting about 10 miles away in both directions, that advertised the cured hams, the ice cold drinks, the keepsakes, and said, "Booger Hollow, 9 miles;" "Booger Hollow, 8 miles" and so on.  They drew you on, closer and closer, until you simply could not pass it up. They are gone now. There is still the population sign on the north side, but it is within feet of the turn in and I missed it before I could slow down enough. Fortunately, there is another turn in on the south side so I used that one to pull into the small gravel parking lot.

The empty store
In front of me stood the old red and white buildings, looking sad, lonely, and showing the years of neglect. Blackberry bushes with thorns, but no berries, have grown up through the floorboards of the porch. The signs are still on the doors and windows, the windows which haven't been broken out anyway. There is no breeze, no cars pass on the road a few feet away. I'm alone and the sound of solitude is loud in my ears. For some strange reason I feel a little uneasy. It's afternoon daylight and I'm not a scaredy-type person, but this time I feel better after retrieving the Bowie knife I carry in the truck. I attached it to my belt and ventured onto the front porch. The boards creaked and gave a little, but held.

Being careful to avoid the sticker bushes as much as possible, I peered through a broken pane at the rows of empty shelving inside the post. There was nothing left on the disarrayed shelves except dust and a few cobwebs. Making my way to the restaurant, I once again looked through broken windows and saw the old menu sign above the order-window, still advertising Boogerburger, $2.99, with cheese, $3.29. The kitchen area appeared neat and clean except for the layer of dust which covered everything. It looked like with a good cleaning, the Boogerburger could be cooked again tomorrow.

I stuck my camera through the broken glass and was focused on taking pictures when something big and black came hurtling through the air at my head! I instinctively jerked my head and hand back, lucky to not cut anything on the broken glass and for a split second, started to reach for the knife hanging at my side. I realized though, it was just a black bird, scared by me from the home he had probably made in the rafters, making his escape through the broken pane above the one I was looking through. I had to chuckle, picturing myself futilely flailing away like a madman with a knife in my hand at a bird flying around me. Alfred Hitchcock evidently is alive and well inside my head! Two cars sped past on the road and somehow, the uneasy feeling passed.

The cafe - and where a bird scared the 
daylights out of me!
I made my way to the side of the little complex, and there it stood, the famous double-decker outhouse. Trees and weeds are about to overtake it and I've no doubt, without maintenance, it will soon be engulfed and eventually taken down by time and green growing things.

Perhaps someday, someone will come along, re-build and re-open the Booger Hollow Trading Post. Or perhaps it will continue to slowly wither away until it is just a distant memory in old people's thoughts and fading pictures. Personally, I would like to see it restored and opened again. It may have been a perpetrator of the hillbilly stereotype, but it's still sad to lose one of the great roadside attractions in America.

The infamous double-decker outhouse

Note written beside the door to the cafe. "Ma" was
obviously very loved by her grandchildren. 

The Road Trip

Like the quote in Field of Dreams, the builders of roads have tapped into something very basic and deep within Americans - build it and they will come. The adventure of the American road trip is a timeless tradition. Ever since Henry Ford rolled out that first Model T, we've had a love affair with cars. The country grew up around cars. North to south, east to west, cars have enabled us to travel this great country and feed our sense of freedom and adventure. For me, I travel because life is short and office chairs are no fun to sit in. So many places and so little time!

Whenever I leave on one of my trips, I feel regret for the people who must remain behind. Heading out, I feel the excitement of freedom, but everyone else has to live where they are.  The drive-through kid at Wendy's, the unemployment counselor looking up at the same endless line of people waiting to see her, the waitress at IHOP - all of them stuck in place while I have who knows what waiting for me around the next bend in the road or over the next hill. The prettiest and best place is always the one that lays just ahead of me.

I'm in love with movement. Not as a continuous way of life, but as a periodic tonic. I need to get out of town for a while, calm my head and see what I haven't yet seen. I think the urge to travel is an ancient human trait, a legacy  from when our ancestors roamed the earth as hunter-gatherers. In modern times, I think Americans in particular, dream of the road; adventure and freedom from routines and responsibilities, away from a state of mind, from having to live the way others expect us to live - the home with 2-car garage and a mortgage; the electric bill; the water bill; the gas bill; the car payment; the kid's braces; pulling weeds; going to work Monday morning. Who doesn't want to saddle up the horse and just ride away into the sunset? In 1530, Cabeza de Vaca said as he and his men were exploring America; "We ever held it certain that going toward the sunset we would find what we desired."

Not that long ago, geologically speaking, when "wild" Indians roamed North America, they sometimes captured white folk. If the captives were taken as children, the vast majority of them would easily assimilate into the tribe and live their lives as Indians. When Indians were captured, they invariably had no desire to join white society with its laws, punishments, taboos and permanent houses. In 1764, a captive exchange took place along the Muskingum River in Ohio. The Indian prisoners ran back to their tribe laughing with tears of joy running down their faces. The white captives had to be bound hand and foot and forcibly dragged, kicking and screaming, back to civilization. In a short period of time, most of them ran away and went back to live with the Indians.

There is a whole continent at my back door, 2,700 miles wide and 1,200 miles tall, with no border crossings or language barriers to break the flow of the trip. Total freedom to go where I want, to see what I want, to stop where I want. It's something people around the world dream about - to come to America, rent a car and drive the country. I'm so thankful I can do it anytime.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is 
not intent on arriving."

Bigelow & The Daffodils

In central Arkansas is a town that is not well known by outsiders and quiet a few area residents only know of this small town for one reason - a little flower named after a beautiful Greek boy. You may have heard of him. Narcissus became so obsessed with his own reflection as he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water that he fell into the water and drowned. From the spot where he died, the beautiful Narcissus flower grew. Today, most people call it by it's common name, the daffodil.

The peaceful area around Bigelow.
Esau was a small community a few miles southwest of the present Toadsuck Ferry Bridge just outside of Conway. Over time, Esau grew until it touched the edge of the small town of Fourche. In 1911, Fourche River Mill owner, N.P. Bigelow, built a big, fancy white house on a hill above the town. He was elected mayor, and then he gained permission from the Arkansas General Assembly to change the name of Esau to Bigelow. At one time, Bigelow was the biggest town in the county. A vote was eventually taken to move the county seat from Perryville to Bigelow and Bigelow won the vote. However, Perryville refused to recognize the outcome and would not turn over the county paperwork so the move was never made.

Not much left of downtown Bigelow.
Over time, the mills closed, stores closed, and Bigelow lost residents until it became what it is today, a small country community with 329 residents, a few living in the town proper and most living on land surrounding the town. Though weathered and leaning, some of the old buildings still stand offering testimony to days gone by. There are several small, but long-established churches in the area that serve the residents. One of these churches is the United Methodist Church at Wye Mountain. Although only 50 members strong, the church owns a large field behind their building; not a field of hay or woods or grass; but a field of thousands and thousands of daffodil plants. And in this field, every year, they hold a festival - The Daffodil Festival.

The festival is held at different times every year because the daffodils don't bloom according to a schedule. It is held when the daffodils want it held and that's the way it should be. It's very informal. There are no rock bands nor do you have to purchase arm bands at the gate. You just show up. You can bring a blanket and a picnic if you'd like and mill around the field. They normally have a little shop open with handmade crafts you can buy. You can also purchase bulbs and daffodils ($1 per dozen) so you can bring a little "Wye Mountain" home with you. The proceeds go to pay the church's minister.

Field of daffodils.
It's not the most exciting festival in the world but it's something that a lot of people make a point to go to each year and if you happen to be around the Little Rock area in March, ask a resident if the daffodils are blooming. They'll know where to send you.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

                                        William Wordsworth