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.