Historic Arkansas · Nature · Photography · Travel

Cotton in the Raw

“Life is like a cotton. Don’t make it heavier by dipping it in the water of sorrow but make it lighter by blowing it in the joy of air.”

There’s a small patch of cotton growing at the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park in Scott, Arkansas. As many times as I’ve driven past the museum, and have even stopped from time to time this year, yesterday was the first time I’ve noticed it!

Cotton and farming played an important role in the history of Scott, AR. Many prominent businessmen and lawyers from Little Rock owned plantations in the rich, fertile bottom land of Western Pulaski County along the Arkansas River. Very few of the plantations still exist today but the Plantation Agriculture Museum has gathered many of the items from those plantations as displays throughout this state park.

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Historic Arkansas · Nature · Travel

Native American Trail Marker Trees

While searching for monarch butterflies at Camp Robinson Special Use Area near Mayflower, AR on Monday, I happened to run across a Native American Trail Marker Tree. I went back Tuesday afternoon and found at least one more plus two more that may be marker trees.

The tree I found Monday is close to a dry creek bed. Nowadays, it only has water after a significant rain but who knows what it actually looked like before Lake Conway was built. I’m not sure if the second one I found is actually a marker tree. It’s about 50 feet or less from the first one, just across the creek bed, and although it’s bent I’m not really sure if it’s because it was a marker tree or if mother nature bent it during a storm. The third one is just the remains of a bent tree, or limb, and not very big. The only reason I think it could be a trail marker tree is the knobby ends of the bends look man-made but it’s really kind of small to be a marker tree. The fourth and last one I found is near the top of the ridge right up the road from the others.

Native Amercian’s used to bend the tree to mark the trails they used. The way the tree was marked would indicate nearby water and food or convey warnings of danger or rough traveling ahead.

Historic Arkansas · Travel

In Search of: A Farming Colony in Scott, Arkansas

 

If you heard of Johnny Cash in Arkansas than you know he lived in the Dyess Colony Resettlement Area but did you know there are more resettlement area’s in Arkansas?

Resettlement areas were setup under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and was administrated by the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

They were designed to help those whose lives were devastated by the natural and economic disasters of the Great Depression. In Arkansas, the flood of 1927 was followed by a severe drought and many families were left with nearly nothing. Resettlement areas were established to promote a self-sustaining community consisting of independent farms that provided educational, agricultural and commercial support facilities.

My father-in-law, Hubert Skillern, lived in one such colony near Scott, Arkansas in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He was in his mid-teens at the time and helped his parents farm the land as well as attended school. He loved the time they spent in Scott and loved talking about it.

I’ve been trying to do research into the Jones Colony Resettlement Area in Lonoke County but so far I haven’t found out very much information. Buddy Raines, a longtime friend of Hubert, lived down Jones Colony Road (now Johnson Road) from the Skillern’s and his parents were also farmers in the colony. When I talked to Mr. Raines the other day he referred to the resettlement as the “Toltec Community.” An internet search calls it the Lonoke Colony. No matter what it is called I’m not finding any information at all.

If you have any information, stories or historical photos from the Jones Colony/Toltec Community/Lonoke Colony between Scott and Keo, Arkansas please feel free to email me!

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I believed the Skillern’s lived in this typical-styled “colony” house. When driving down Johnson Road (historic Jones Colony Road) you’ll see many homes that look like this one.
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What may have been the Jones Colony store. It’s near the corner of Hwy 165 and Johnson Road. It used to have a sign in front that read,”Hamiter Hicks Estate Est. 1869,” but the sign has been gone since the front overhang fell.
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Maps do not encompass the whole of Jones Colony. Including it as a reference point to the general area.
Travel

Finton Shaw Sculpture Garden

 

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There’s not much left of Finton Shaw’s Sculpture Garden near Conway, Arkansas. If you did not know it was there, you would pass on by thinking it was just another junk yard alongside the road. Among the tall grass and weeds are the remains of Mr. Shaw’s sculptures including one he was working on at the time of his death, in 2012, featuring Bill Clinton.

I took these pictures from across the highway and from the old driveway of Shaw’s property. I didn’t have any snake boots and I was not sure the current owners of the property really want anyone exploring. I left wishing I would have met the artist and seen the sculptures before his death.

For more information on Finton Shaw and his sculptures:

Location:

  • 5080 Hwy 64, Conway, AR
Travel

When the Golden Hour Meets the Blue Hour

As I was leaving Conway yesterday I knew I had to find a place to pull over to stop and photograph the rising full moon. The wispy clouds were trailing across the face of the moon making the scene beautiful but yet a little creepy looking. The clouds and atmosphere made it hard to get a tack sharp image so I didn’t bother pulling out the tripod.

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As I turned the car around to head back out on the highway, I saw that everything in the West was bathed in a very intense orange.

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Travel

The Sharecroppers House

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“When We Worked on Shares, We Couldn’t Make Nothing”

Henry Blake

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Thanks to Google Maps I have a new, and quicker, way to get to Scott, Arkansas from Cabot. I went to Scott yesterday to photograph the still smoldering remains of Cotham Mercantile.

Along this new route are several historic farms and at least one historic plantation. The biggest surprise was seeing an old sharecroppers house, so cool. It’s rare to find them standing, let alone one that is still in pretty decent shape. This one won’t be for long though with the metal roof sheets peeled back like they are.

One picture is taken with my Nikon and the other with my phone. Can you tell which one is which?

UPDATE November 6, 2017:

Apparently, a storm that came through the area really did some damage to this old place. I almost started crying when I turned the curve in the road and saw this:

Travel

Davies Bridge Waterfall Petit Jean State Park

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Stop Motion – Nikon D3400, 18-55mm at 38 mm, 1/320 sec at f/8, ISO 200

The waterfall at Davies Bridge on Petit Jean on Saturday was really moving after the last round of rain and storms that rolled through the area on Friday. It was the widest I’ve ever seen it. I wanted to get the classic shot of the falls taken from the middle of the creek through the bridge but the water was still too high. I probably would have put on the water shoes and waded into the creek if someone had been with me but I was alone.

I took two shots of the waterfall from the top of the bridge. One to stop the motion of the water and the other shot to blur the motion. Unfortunately the water was moving too hard and fast to get much of a smooth silky look without completely blowing out the highlights.

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Slow Motion – Nikon D3400, 18-55mm at 38 mm, 1/30 sec at f/32, ISO 200