Images of Northwest Arkansas, July 2006.

Eureke Springs, AR.
This travelogue consists of a few images of Northwest Arkansas from our recent trip. While this area of mountains and rolling farm land is known for Tyson Chicken and Walmart, it is not know as a travel destination. Our reason for going was to do some family research, as I was born there and my family was in the area for five generations.

Our first stop was the quirky town of Eureka Springs, about 30 miles northeast of Fayetteville. There are many springs in the area, from which late 19th and early 20th century travelers sought "the cure." To cure what? Almost anything. The main streets are laid out along a ridge. Steep, narrow, one-way cross streets snake up and down the ridge. Today, the old town is home to many shops and restaurants, and the town has become a destination for bikers. Since parking in town is very limited, the best way to get around in Eureka Springs is the town trolly (a bus that looks like an old trolly). You can get anywhere in town, and they even go out of town to nearby points of interest, such as the Christ of the Ozarks (Impressive!).

Eureka Springs

I found this realistic looking mannequin in front of a store on main street in Eureka Springs. I like the sign that says "No Photography Inside." When the owner saw me, she came out and struck up a pleasant conversation. But I did get the impression she didn't like people photographing her mannequin. But it was too good to pass up.

I like to photograph musicians. We met Shannon playing next to the derriere shown above. We struck up a conversation and I shot a number of pictures of him. He was quite accomplished, and really enjoyed what he was doing. I like the face looking out of the window in the background.





Eureka Springs has a number of nice, Victorian-era B&Bs such as the Ridgeway House where we stayed for three nights. Our stay here was enjoyable, and the owners were very gracious and accommodating. The porches were great for relaxing, but with temperatures above 100 during the day, we didn't spend much time sitting out.

Taking a break from walking the hot Eureka Springs streets, we drove to Springdale, to ride the Arkansas and Missouri excursion train. It's not a steam train, but was a fun trip. The route goes from Springdale (just north of Fayetteville, south through the Boston Mountains to Van Buren, on the north side of the Arkansas river from Fort Smith, AR. This day-long trip goes through a 1000 plus foot tunnel, and over three trestles. We had about three hours in Van Buren to get lunch, check out town and shops, and of course, shoot some photos. This trip would be fantastic in the fall.

Here's the interior of the restored Parlor Car, which was built in the mid-fifties. It featured real tables and chairs, and, thankfully, air conditioning. It was a comfortable ride, but the old cars to rock and roll a bit. Coffee and soft drinks are available, as are snaks.

Van Buren is an historic town that was once a major cotton port on the Arkansas river. Today, most of the original buildings still stand on the main street. The original train depot has been nicely restored and now functions as a museum as well as a depot.




After enjoying Eureka Springs and the train adventure, it was off to Fayetteville and time to get down to work tracking down some ancestors. We spent hours in Fayetteville's terrific new library, the county archives, and tramping through cemeteries in the heat.

Fayetteville is notable for the University of Arkansas, and it's town square, among other things. A post office (right) was built in the center of the square in the early 1900's, and is still there. It was scheduled to be torn down, but a private party bought it and has put in shops and a restaurant.

As a kid spending summers in Fayetteville, I particularly enjoyed visiting the stores around the square, such as Lewis Bros. Hardware, pictured here (now a lawyer's office) and the Woolworth Five and Dime, when they really did sell things for a dime. It pleased me to see that the square had changed, but was still vibrant, with several lawyers' offices, banks, shops, restaurants, and a huge retail/condo complex going up on the east side of the square.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday, flower and vegetable vendors surround the square to sell their goods. Saturday is the big day, but the Tuesday we were there wasn't bad. Markets are fun, colorful places to photograph.



This is SkyVue Lodge, which my fraternal grandparents owned and operated from 1940 until about 1947. We left when I was about two. It is one of the oldest and last detached-cabin motor courts operating in Arkansas, and probably the U.S. as well. In the 30's through the 60's, such courts flourished on US highways, as did SkyVue on US 71, about 25 miles south of Fayetteville.

Janet and I stayed two nights there, and got to know the current owners, Janis and Glenn Jorgenson. There have been many owners of SkyVue since my grandparents. In fact, it changed hands sometimes two or three times a year. The Jorgensons have owned it twelve years, and we were pleased to see it in good shape and drawing customers.

When we arrived, Glenn was anxious to chat with us about SkyVue. He brought out a thick folder of documents and old photos of SkyVue, some of which predate my grandparents ownership. Glenn scanned these to a CD for me, and I'll put them on line as soon as time permits. You can visit the SkyVue web site at

The Jorgensons operate SkyVue as a B&B, but my grandmother ran a full-time restaurant, and was famous in the area for her fried chicken. (Growing up, I can attest that her chicken was some of the finest I've ever tasted!)

Here's why it's called SkyVue. All the cabin's decks face east, so visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise. This sunrise was not spectacular, but it's not bad. The Boston Mountains in this part of the Ozarks are like those in north Georgia, but aren't quite as high, and they are flat on top, where Georgia mountains have peaks. Ok, so they're not similar!

The nearest town to SkyVue is Winslow, and you can see two-thirds of the downtown area here. The building on the left is the Mercantile Store, which once sold everything, but now sells T-shirts, straw hats, coffee, and serves as a morning gathering place for the locals. When we entered the store, we expected the conversation to stop, and the patrons to stare at us, like in the western movies. They didn't - they kept up their animated conversation, and the manager came over to greet us. Really friendly folks in Winslow. The building on the right is the city hall.

My dad went to Winslow high school for a time until he met a girl of whom my grandmother did not approve. My grandmother was very opinionated, and felt this girl wasn't good enough for her son. So my grandmother arranged for a rental room in Fayetteville, so dad could attend high school there. I guess things turned out OK, because my dad met my mom, who also attended Fayetteville High, at SkyVue.

One of the smallest towns I've ever seen is Chester. It's along the Arkansas Missouri rail track, but going by on the train, don' blink or you'll miss it. The photo here shows one-half of the town, the general store, which continues to sell everything. While hard to read at this resolution, this store sells groceries, ice cream, seed, tobacco, cigarettes (those aren't the same), and ammo. What more do you need? We had a tasty BBQ sandwich there.

The signs say the population of Chester is 99, but the clerk told us they'd experienced rapid growth and now had 125.


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Copyright 2006 Phil Winter All rights reserved.