Monday, March 20, 2017

Rush Historic District - North Central Arkansas

Today marks the first day of Spring! Finally! Well, it's pretty much been like Spring all Winter here in the Ozarks, but it's nice to say that it's really Spring now.
To celebrate, and to take advantage of the summer time temps that would be upon the area today, I took a road trip down to the ghost town of Rush, Arkansas. This has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and I wanted to get out of the house for the day, so I took off in my car South.
The trip was less than a 2 hour drive to my destination, and well worth it. From Harrison, I took Highway 62 East, and stopped in each little town along the way to see if there was any surprises to photograph. Once I hit Yellville, I took Highway 14 South to the road 6035, which 5 miles later took me to Rush, Arkansas.
Nestled deep in the valley, Rush Historic District is a part of the Buffalo National River, and dates back to the 1880's as a zinc mining region of Northern Arkansas.


What you see of the structures, buildings, and ruins at Rush today is the last visible remains of the historic zinc mining activity in Arkansas. At its peak, there was 10 mining companies operating 13 developed mines within the Rush Creek Mines District, more than any other mining districts in the North Arkansas Lead and Zinc District.


The district includes ruins dating from 1880 to 1940.


The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

My next stop was further down Highway 62 in Cotter, Arkansas. The first thing I seen that absolutely blew my mind was the Cotter Bridge, a 6 span rainbow arch bridge that crosses the White River, and takes you into Cotter if you're heading Eastward. I must of crossed it 3 times, and even took a video while driving across. I'll post the video soon! Once I had my fill, I went down to the park that runs along the river, as well as around and under the bridge, and to the White River Railroad Bridge that also runs across the river from Cotter.


One of the spans from the Cotter Bridge reminds me of the Rainbow Bridge near Baxter Springs, Kansas. I fell in love with this view!



When I left Cotter at noon, it was already in the upper 80's. Not bad for the first day of Spring! From Cotter, I kept Eastward along 62 to Mountain Home, Arkansas where I took Highway 5 back North to Missouri. I stopped at the Arkansas - Missouri border to snap a few pictures....


I took Highway 5 North to U.S. Highway 60, which I took back home. Not bad for an late morning, early afternoon road trip in the Ozarks!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Clinton, Missouri and Highway 52

The day after going East on U.S. 60, I planned out a day of going North to see a couple of old service stations that have been on my bucket list for quite some time. Friday wasn't near as warm as the day before, but it was still tolerable for a late Winter's day. My wife so happen to have the day off as well, and wanted to desperately get a day away with me so I wasn't alone on this road trip. From Springfield, we took Highway 13 North to Bolivar. First on my list of must stops was Country Classics Antiques near Bolivar.

The building is split into two sections. One half with the antiques, and the other... well...


I was in LOVE with the other half of the building! Antique cars, gas pumps, signs, cans, maps, etc... I could live happily there for the remainder of my days. Just outside of Country Classics Antiques is a forest of old signs.



The signage out front is what caught my eye whenever I took road trips along 13. I just never had the opportunity to stop until last Friday. For an overall experience, I give the place a 5 out of 5. We definitely plan on coming back soon!

Across the highway from the antique store was this huge field of purple. We couldn't pass up taking a few pictures.


I'm sure with our recent cold snap that the field is no longer a sea of beautiful purple.
From Bolivar, we continued North to Clinton, Missouri.
Clinton is one of those towns that I've never stopped in before. I would often pass by via 13 heading to Kansas City and not give the town much thought.
Clinton's downtown square is delightful with restaurants, and stores completely filling the square. One of the things that caught my eye was the murals and signage of old advertisements all over the place.






Also, further down the block from the Spearmint advertising was this old sign hidden in a narrow alley.


We walked around the downtown area of Clinton for awhile taking pictures of everything within site, then realized how hungry we both were. We ended up leaving downtown and finding a small sit down restaurant off Highway 32 called Smith's Restaurant. It was delicious and reasonably priced.


My final stop in Clinton was the restored D-X station, now museum. It was closed when we stopped by, but it didn't make me any less disappointed. What you will get to know about me is that I love old service stations. Can't get enough of em. This one was no exception.


Just down the street was some awesome neon signage.


I would love to see this sign in action at night!
Realizing that the day is starting to slip away, we left Clinton via Highway 52 and headed East. Now that I've driven a piece of it, 52 in its entirety is now on my bucket list! A few miles outside of Clinton was this old service station that was barely hanging on.


The first town down 52 from Clinton is Calhoun, Jug Town USA.


This beautiful structure, well it is to me, caught my eye instantly. The Katy Trail goes thru Calhoun as well as pass this structure posted above. Highway 52 runs along side the Katy Trail a ways and got to see some of the sites I would hit if I ever decide to ride this section of the K trail. It has been added to my bucket list.
We proceeded down 52 to my final stop of the afternoon in Stover, Missouri.


This restored station was the sole reason for my trip North that day. Sitting in downtown Stover, it certainly stands out. I must of spent a good 15 minutes taking pictures and soaking in what was in front of me.
I had planned on taking 52 East to Highway 5, then 5 South back to I-44, then home, but daylight was starting to fade, and we really just wanted to get back home. So instead, we took 52 back to Cole Camp, then to U.S. 65, which we took home. Much quicker drive that way....

Route 60

A week ago, knowing that the day will be the last of the warmer days for awhile, I took off alone East along U.S. 60 from Springfield to get out of the house. It was already in the 70's when I left late that morning. Not having anything in mind for places to stop, I pretty much just winged it the whole day. My first stop was 20 miles down the road in Seymour to get gas, and to take some photos of the Owen Theatre.



This stunning theatre building has caught my eye a lot the past few years, but could never make it there to photograph with good light. This day was my lucky day! 

I took off afterwards and continued Eastward stopping at each small town along 60 to see what I can photograph, or catches my eye. I eventually made it into Cabool, Missouri where there was a particular sign I wanted to see in person. A friend of mine from Tulsa passed thru the area a few weeks back and captured some photos of Tod's Motel sign that I knew nothing about before.


It was a stunning old neon sign. I must of been admiring and photographing the sign and motel lot for at least ten minutes. I certainly got the attention of the small town locals as they drove by wondering what that city boy was up to.


Once I got my fill, I left Cabool and made my way yet again East to Willow Springs. I stopped downtown to admire the murals, and make up my mind what I should do from here. I decided this was as far as I was going to go, and took off back West towards home on Highway 76. The further West I went down 76 from Willow Springs, the more rural it got. 76 runs thru a chunk of the Mark Twain National Forest in this area. As I was driving along, I realized that I was getting close to Topaz Mill, and decided on the mill as my next stop. Sadly I had no more bars on my phone, hints no internet to look up where specifically to go (I've only been to Topaz once and was maybe 10 years ago). Going by memory, I stopped in what turned out to be the right area and went to my old trusty paper map. I eventually realized where I pulled over at was only a few miles away from my next stop. With a smile on my face, I turned down this gravel road that was close by and proceeded East. Turns out this road was a one lane road with big rocks sticking out everywhere, and deep holes that was hard to avoid. And to add to that was a big drop off from the road on the left side if I decided to be careless. I eventually made it down to the bottom into the valley that contained the tiny community of Topaz. The only thing between me and Topaz was two creek beds to cross in my car. My car crossed them carefully, and made it just fine. 


By the time I had made it into the valley, the temperature was in the low 80's, and was just perfect!
The tiny community of Topaz, with a population of 4, only has the cherry red grist mill and general store now days. From what I've read of Topaz, this was once a bustling little town back in the day. 


I really wanted to sit on the porch of the old general store and just soak in the beautiful weather, and the total silence of the area the rest of the afternoon, but I needed to continue on my way towards home. Luckily, I didn't have to go back up the hill I took to get down to Topaz. This other road was so much better! Once I got back to Highway 76, I kept going West to my next and final stop. While in Topaz, I got into a mill fever and knew of another mill that was on my way back home. Rockbridge Mill. 


Rockbridge, Missouri today is pretty much a fishing resort with the mill of course, the general store - post office - restaurant, cabins, and the old bank building. Surprisingly, there wasn't any fisherman around when I made my way to the mill. With temps still in the low 80's, I was wearing shorts and sandals. I took advantage by wading across the creek water to the other side to get pictures I haven't gotten before, like the picture posted above. I spent about ten minutes in the cool water enjoying myself, but alas... I needed to get home. There was storms rolling in, and I wanted to beat them home. 
And I did...... :)

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Visit Home

Yesterday, I got off of work a little early, and went straight home to change into some shorts, make a sandwich, and head to the town I grew up in. With temps in the 80s, I just had to take advantage of the late spring like weather with this late afternoon road trip along Route 66. My first stop was the new mural at the Route 66 Park in Lebanon. It was just unveiled over the weekend. Sadly, I had to miss it due to work. The mural depicts 66 sites that Lebanon still has, but mostly those that are no longer around.

Overall, it gets my approval. There is going to be two more in the near future of the same size, as well as the replica of the Nelson Fountain.


A couple of weeks back, my wife and I took a drive up to the Lake of the Ozarks to hike and do whatever. On our way up when you take Highway 5 from Lebanon lies the tiny community of Dove.
The last several years, the general store has been overgrown with brush to the point of not being able to know whats there. So when we drove by a couple of weeks back, I just so happen to over at the corner of my eye and see the general store again. I was so excited as I was telling my wife what we just passed by. She didn't care.

So after stopping by to see my parents yesterday (They live a few miles South of Dove), I took a drive back to the store to see what the years of neglect has done to it. It didn't look good. But I was still happy to be able to see the general store again.


With the sun slowly going down, I went Eastward along 66 to the Gasconade Bridge near Hazelgreen to pay my usual respects, and to see how she's holding up.
Modot announced that they plan on building a new bridge along side of I-44, and will leave the old bridge, for now. I'm hoping funds will come about from somewhere soon. I would hate to see her go!


On my way back to Lebanon, I took a few sunset pics along Route 66.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kearney Street Survey


Here's to the city listening to what the local citizens want with the Kearney Street corridor. So many great ideas for a street that has a lot of potential.


Stockton Lake Area

On Tuesday, with afternoon temps in the low 70s, and my work schedule having me working until 1 in the afternoon, I took advantage and went bridge hunting. After going home, opening a few windows, and making a couple of sandwiches for lunch, I took off North on highway 13 and headed towards Stockton Lake. I brought along my Missouri Passport book in the hopes of getting a new stamp with my visit to Stockton Lake State Park.

My first stop of the afternoon was to be Bear Creek Bridge. After finding my turn off from Hwy 32, a little service station caught my eye instantly.



I pulled off the road and started to take pictures when an older gentlemen in a pickup truck pulled up along side of me and told me a little about the community of Bearcreek, his home and that his uncle had built it after his previous home disappeared under the water of Stockton Lake, and his childhood in the 60s getting candy and soda from the service station. After talking for a while, he welcomed me to take as many pictures as I wanted and went on his way. I stuck around for another couple of minutes, then took of myself towards my destination.

A couple of miles down a dirt road from Bearcreek lies Bear Creek Bridge. Before I go any further, the little community of Bearcreek is named after, yeah you guessed it, Bear Creek. And its not a typo.. lol



Bear Creek Bridge is a still functioning bridge that was built in 1917 by the Canton Bridge Builders Company, a very popular bridge company for these older bridges around the area at the time.


My next stop was to be Stockton Lake SP, but it was to be a little out of my way, and wanted to hit a couple of more bridges before it started to get dark. From Stockton, I took the very rural Highway 39 to Caplinger Mills. The drive up that way was beautiful to me, and very quiet. I recommend it.

Caplinger Mills, Missouri was settled in 1849, and was named for Samuel Caplinger, the proprietor of a local mill. The Caplinger Mills Bridge that crosses the Sac River was built in 1895. and no longer drive able. From the pictures I've seen of the bridge, the area is a very popular fishing spot to the locals. I may have to take my dad out here and give it a try this year.



Once you get to the other side of this photogenic bridge lies the shell of a small hydro power plant.



My last stop of the day was Cowan Bridge, just a bit further North off Highway 39. After taking a couple of dirt roads a couple of miles off the highway lies this old bridge that was built in 1919. As you can see, it's no longer drive able.



After getting back onto Highway 39, I continued North to US Highway 54. While taking 54 East and seeing all of the great photo opportunities along the road, another road trip up this way is a must in the near future! Once 54 intersects with Highway 13, I took 13 South and headed back to Springfield, Missouri, then on wards home to Ozark. As you head South from Bolivar, the rural Midwest feel gets less and less and replaced with a more fast pace urban feel with the higher traffic as you inch closer to Springfield. 

With my road trips lately around the Four Corner States, I've noticed how US Highway 60 seems to be the cutoff line to where the South begins, or where the Midwest begins. Depending on which direction you're heading of course. And Springfield seems to be in that no mans land in the middle without a true identity. Once you head South of the city, it becomes more Southern. Especially by the time you make it to Branson, just 40 miles away. And going just North of Springfield, you get the feel instantly you are in the Midwest, like the majority of Missouri. I love living in an area where you can go just a short drive in either direction and get a taste of both worlds.
I'm thinking in a future blog post, showing a bit more detail about this with pictures and see what you might think. But yeah, that will be another day.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ha Ha Tonka State Park - Bagnell Dam Strip

My first official travel blog of 2017. Awwwww Yissssss!

I kind of wished I had started this at the start of the year. I've been to Oklahoma and Kansas via Route 66 just last week. I have also explored Picher, Oklahoma for the second time in as many months earlier in the week. And to add one more, the tri-state corner marker of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.


But it's time I move forward.
Yesterday, my wife and I took a afternoon trip to the Lake of the Ozarks to do some hiking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. I have been there hundreds of times. No really, I have! I used to go 2 to 3 times a week to hike and take pictures when I lived just 20 miles away years ago. Sadly, I don't get to go as often as I want to, but it's always nice when the opportunity arises.

Ha Ha Tonka is one of my favorite places in the state of Missouri. And I'm not the only one who feels the same way. Back in 2015, the park was voted as a top 10 state park in the country via readers of USA Today.

http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-state-park/

When I went to college many years ago, the last paper I was to write was of a location with a lot of history, and Ha Ha Tonka SP was my choice. I won't bore you with what was written on the paper, but I did get a A on it. So yeah, I really really like this park.

With the afternoon being in the upper 60s, it seemed as if half the citizens of Missouri was also there to enjoy the nice weather. We parked near the post office, and took the trail that winds around the Whispering Dell, past the stone water tower, and onward towards the castle. The trail was quite busy with hikers getting exercise, or new comers in awe with the park. As we neared the castle, dozens of people was at the castle looking inside from the many open windows. For those who have never been, the castle isn't really a castle, but a stone mansion that's just in ruins now. A fire in 1942 gutted the entire interior when sparks from a chimney ignited the roof.  The nearby carriage house burned that same day and in 1976, the stone water tower was burned by vandals.


When you're at the castle ruins, there is also look out areas that overlooks the Lake of the Ozarks, but also a spot to look down upon the spring and water tower.


We spent about thirty minutes around the castle before making our way back around to the car. The hoards of people there kind of takes the enjoyment out of it for us. Before getting back to our car, I took a few pictures of the post office that served the area up until 1937.


The parking lot was full down below near the spring, so we took off to Osage Beach/ Lake Ozark instead to get a bite to eat, and stop at the Bagnell Dam Strip.
The strip was created along side Bagnell Dam back in the early 1930s. Today, the strip (Business Hwy 54) has shops of all types, restaurants and bars, arcades, and hotels. Along side one of the old arcades is one of two iconic muffler men. One being a recently refurbished Indian, and the other a Hillbilly, who I believe is still being refurbished elsewhere, and will soon return.



Before heading back home, we stopped at The Golden Door Motel in Osage Beach to take a few pictures of the cool rotating door the sign for the motel has. I have always loved seeing the sign since I was a kid, and never took the time to photograph it until yesterday.

video

Tuesday, I'm off work, and the weather is supposed to be in the upper 60s once again, so another road trip somewhere is in the works, as well as a new blog post.