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Exploring Arkansas January 2008

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Talimena National Scenic Byway, War Eagle Mill, Devil's Eyebrow
The Talimena National Scenic Byway offers some of the most breathtaking sights of the Ouachitas near Mena. War Eagle Mill near Rogers is a storybook setting that takes you back in time - "…down by the old mill stream." It's been referred to as "The Land That Time Forgot"-an extremely remote area deep in the Ozark National Forest that's called the Devil's Eyebrow.

TRANSCRIPT

THE TALLY MEANNA SEENIC DE IS ONE OF THE PRETTIEST DRIVES. AND THEN WE WILL TAKE YOU BACK IN TIME DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM AT WAR EAGLE MILL AT ROGERS AND WE WILL CLOSE IS OUT WITH A SPECIAL EAR, UNIQUE ONE AT THAT CALLED THE DEVIL'S EYEBROW NORTH OF MULBERRY. SO FOR NOW JOIN US AS WE TAKE YOU ON UP THE TALIMENA SCENIC BYWAY.

THIS IS THE WAY TO SEE THE Ouachita Mountains GOING ACROSS THE BY WAY. IT'S ONLY ONE OF THE NATIONALLY SCENIC BYWAYS IN THE COUNTRY. IT GOES OVER TO Talihina. , OKLAHOMA. IT GOES ALL THE WAY ACROSS RIDGE MOUNTAIN AS WELL AS WINDING STAIR MOUNTAIN IN OKLAHOMA AND EVERY SEASON OF THE YEAR OFFERS SOMETHING UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL AND IT IS WELL WORTH THE TIME SPENT HERE.

THE 18-MILE STRETCH OF THE BYWAY IN ARKANSAS OFFERS EIGHT MAGNIFICENT VISTAS AND POINTS OF IBILITY INTEREST ALONG THE WAY. EACH HAS A SCENIC TURNOUT SO THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM ALONGSIDE THE ROAD. RICH MOUNTAIN WHICH HIGHWAY 88 RUN AS LONG THE TOP OF IS ARKANSAS' SECOND HIGHEST PEAK BEHIND MOUNT MAGAZINE. THIS NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY OFFERS MOUNTAIN VISTAS UNSURPASSED IN MID AMERICA OF FORECASTED PEAKS, VALLEYS, LAKES AND STREAMS.

THE FIRST VISTA WE STOPPED AT IS THE BLUE HAZE VISTA OVERLOOK. DEPENDING ON THE TIME OF DAY AND HUMIDITY CONDITIONS, A BLUE HAZE CAN BE SEEN IN THE VALLEY. NEXT ALONG THE BYWAY IS THE ACORN VISTA-OVER LOOK. IT WAS FORMERLY KNOWN AS GOURD NECK BECAUSE OF THE SHAPE OF THE VALLEY. THE KANSAS CITY RAILWAY PASSES THROUGH THIS VALLEY AFTER ACORN, THE NEXT VISTA YOU WILL COME TO IS ROUND MOUNTAIN VISTA KNOWN A SHUT-IN VALLEY BECAUSE NO MAN MADE STRUCTURES CAN BE SEEN FROM THIS OVERLOOK. THE EAGLETON VISTA OVERLOOK IS NEXT, THE SMALL COMMUNITY OF EAGLETON WAS ESTABLISHED IN 196 WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE RAILROAD. IT WAS A THRIVING LUMBER MILL TOWN IN THE 1920s, BUT THE GREAT DEPRESSION DURING THE 30s SHUT DOWN THE TIMBER INDUSTRY AND EAGLETON AS WELL. EAGLETON MAY HAVE BEEN NAMED FOR THE EAGLES THAT SOMETIMES CAN BE SEEN SHORING IN THE UPDRIFTS.  SOARING IN THE UPDRAFTS.

AFTER EAGLETON IS THE GRAND VIEW VISTA, AND IT IS JUST WHAT THE NAME SAYS, A GRAND VIEW OF THE OUACHITA MOUNTAINS AND THE VALLEY BELOW. OFFERING VISITORS SPECTACULAR VIEWS. THE LICK WILHELMINA -- LAKE WILHELMINA HAS A REPUTATION OF ONE OF THE BEST BLUEGILL FISHING LAKES IN THE REGION. FINALLY WE COME TO QUEEN WILHELMINA STATE PARK THE LODGE HAS BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE CASTLE IN THE SKY. THE ORIGINAL BUILT IN THE LATE 1800 WEAS HAS NAMED AFTER HOLLAND'S QUEEN WILL HELP MEANIA SINCE INVESTORS WERE DUTCH.   THERE IS AN INTERESTING LANDMARK AND THAT'S THE OLD RICH MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWER.

THE THIRD TOWER LOCATED ON THAT SIDE. THERE WERE TWO OTHER TOWERS PREVIOUS TO THE PRESENT TOWER, AND EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT USED FOR SPOTTING FIRES ANY LONGER, THEY USE AIRPLANES FOR THAT JOB, IT'S AN INTERESTING TIE-IN TO OUR HISTORY. IT'S ANOTHER THING THAT THE HIGHER ELEVATION AREAS OF THE MOUNTAINS WERE USED FOR IN THE PAST. AS EARLY AS THE 1920s, A FAMILY NAMED EGGER LIVED AT THE BASE OF THE WOODEN TOWER THAT WAS PREVIOUS TO THE PRESENT TOWER AND WATCHED FOR FIRES AND DID GOOD WORK BECAUSE WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL NATIONAL FOREST THAT'S CELEBRATING ITS HUNDREDTH YEAR THIS YEAR, THE OUACHITA NATIONAL FOREST.

I DO ENJOY IT. I'M NOT GOING TO GIVE THE MONEY BACK, BUT. I DO ENJOY IT. I GREW UP JUST A LITTLE WAYS FROM HERE, AND I LOVE THIS AREA. AND I JUST LOVE THIS JOB AND BEING HERE AND IT'S A GREAT PLACE TO BE AND TO WORK.

SO TAKE THE DRIVE FOR YOURSELF ATOP RICH MOUNTAIN ALONG THE TALIMENA NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY AND SEE WHAT THIS AMERICA'S BYWAY HAS TO OFFER AS FAR AS ENCHANTING OUTDOOR ADVENTURE. ♪

SOMETIMES WHILE EXPLORING ARKANSAS WE LIKE TO SHOW SCENES LIKE THIS. JUST BECAUSE. JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T FIND TOO MANY SETTINGS LIKE THIS LEFT IN THE 21st CENTURY, AND JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF THEM. SO LET'S GO DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM.

WAR EAGLE MILLS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A FAVORITE DESTINATION SPOT IN NORTHWEST ARKANSAS. WAR EAGLE MILL IS THE ONLY WORKING WATER POWERED GRIST MILL IN ARKANSAS AND ONE OF ONLY A FEW THAT ARE LEFT IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. IT STANDS AS A SIMPLE OF OUR OZARK HERITAGE REMINDING US OF THE PIONEERING SPIRIT OF OUR FOREFATHERS WHO GROUNDED THE HARVESTED GRAINS FOR THE TABLE DURING THE 1800s.

IN THE 1840s, 1850s, THE MILL WAS A FOCAL POINT OF THE COMMUNITY, OFTENTIMES THE COMMUNITY WAS BUILT AROUND THE MILL BECAUSE ANYBODY THAT HAD ANY QUANTITY OF GRAIN THAT EVEN 40 ACRES OF CORN, COULDN'T GRIND IT ALL THEMSELVES. THEY COULDN'T POUND IT ALL WITH A MORE TAR AND VESSEL SO THE MILL WAS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PLACE. THAT LASTED THROUGH MOST OF THE 1800s UP UNTIL ABOUT 1900 TO 1920 WE GOT TO THE STEEL ROLLER MILLS AND THE OLD GRIST MILLS STARTED FADING AWAY WITH STONES THAT ACTUALLY GROUND THE PRODUCT. THE STEEL ROLLER MILLS MUCH LIKE THE MODERN FLOURING MILLS ARE TODAY GREAT BIG HUGE IRON OR STEEL ROLLERS THAT ACTUALLY CRUSH THE PRODUCT. NOWADAYS WE ARE SEEING A RESURGENCE OF INTEREST IN THE OLD GRIST MILL TYPE PRODUCT AGAIN, PRIMARILY BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH INTEREST IN ORGANIC PRODUCTS. TOTALLY NATURAL, NOTHING IS REMOVED FROM THEM, NOTHING IS ADDED TO THEM, NO PRESERVATIVES. PEOPLE ARE REALLY GETTING INTERESTED IN THAT AGAIN, SO WE ARE SEEING A RESURGENCE IN THAT TYPE OF FOOD.

ALONG WITH THE 100 PLUS WOODEN PLANK BRIDGE, THE MILL ITSELF HOLDS QUITE AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY.

SYLVANUA AND CATHERINE BLACKBURN FIRST CAME TO ARKANSAS IN 1832, STAYED THE WINTER AND BUILT THE CABIN WHICH WAS ACROSS THE RIVER. THERE IS A MODERN HOME AROUND THAT CABIN STILL TODAY. BY 1838 HE HAD THE FIRST WATER-POWERED GRIST MILL OPERATIONAL HERE. IT OPERATED FOR TEN YEARS UNTIL 1848 AND A HUGE FLOOD WASHED AWAY HIS MILL AND HIS DAM WHICH WAS DOGS AND ROCKS, WASHED AWAY EVERYTHING, BUT THE BUSINESS WAS GOOD TO HIM, SO HE CAME RIGHT BACK IN PROMPTLY REBUILT. HIS SECOND MILL LASTED UNTIL THE CIVIL WAR, AND IN 1862, THE CONFEDERATE ARMY BURNED THAT MILL TO PREVENT THE UNION ARMY FROM BEING ABLE TO USE IT. IT REMAINED A RUIN UNTIL 1872 WHEN SYLVANUS'S YOUNGEST SON JAMES AUSTIN BLACKBURN CAME BACK AND REBUILT THE MILL FOR A THIRD TIME, INSTALLED A WATER TURNEN WHICH PROUDED A LOT OF ADDITIONAL POWER. THAT MILL LASTED UNTIL 1924 AND BURNED IN AN ACCIDENTAL FIRE. THE BUILDING WAS ACTUALLY ERECTED IN 1973 BY ZOE OKAYWOOD AND HER FAMILY. BUT WE ARE SITTING ON THE 1873 FOUNDATION. WE HAVE WHAT'S LEFT OF THE 1873 DAM. AND THE RACEWAY WHERE THE WE'LL SITS IS THE 1873 RACEWAY. SO OFF AND ON, YOU COULD SAY WAR EAGLE MILL HAS BEEN IN OPERATION FOR 169 YEARS. WE ARE THE FOURTH INCARNATION.

THE MILLING OPERATION STILL UTILIZES THE ORIGINAL 150-YEAR-OLD FRENCH GRANITE STONES. MILLER STEVE BURGESS TALKED TO US ABOUT THE MILLING PROCESS.

IT'S AN UNUSUAL OPERATION. IT'S NOT SOMETHING YOU GO FLIP A SWITCH AND START IT UP WITH, ESPECIALLY IN COLD WEATHER. FIRST, WE HAVE TO START THE WHEEL, THE WATER WHEEL, ON A COLD MORNING. WE HAVE TO LET THAT RUN FOR A LITTLE WHILE TO WARM UP THE BELT BEFORE WE CAN ACTUALLY ENGAGE THE MILL TO THE WHEEL. IF WE TRY TO DO IT TOO FAST, THE BELTS WILL FLOP AND VIBRATE AND STUFF ON THE SHELVES UPSTAIRS WILL FALL OFF. SO IT'S A LOT DIFFERENT THAN MOST MACHINERY WE OPERATE TODAY BECAUSE IT'S A VERY SLOW PROCESS TO START IT UP AND SHUT IT DOWN AGAIN IN THE EVENING. BUT IT'S NEAT. IT'S NEAT. PEOPLE USED TO BE USED TO THAT, ACCUSTOMED TO IT, AND WE ARE NOT ANYWHERE. WE ARE USED TO FLIPPING A SWITCH AND GO, BUT THAT'S SURE NOT THE WAY THIS ONE WORKS. SO WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING THE JOB OF A MILLER? SOMETHING THAT ONLY A HANDFUL OF FOLKS IN THE COUNTRY CAN CLAIM.

IT'S DIFFERENT. IT'S INTERESTING. I HAVE LEARNED A LOT BEING HERE THAT I DIDN'T KNOW, AND I'M NOT ASHAMED TO TELL YOU I WASN'T REAL SMART ABOUT ORGANIC PRODUCTS, ALL OF THE VARIETY, ALL OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRAINS THAT THERE ARE. I HAVE LEARNED A WHOLE LOT. I HAVE EVEN IMPRESSED MY WIFE ONCE OR TWICE, SO IT'S BEEN A LOT OF FUN.

BY THE WAY, IF YOU DO GO TO WAR EAGLE MILL, BY ALL MEANS BEFORE LEAVING GO TO THE THIRD FLOOR TO THE BEAN PALACE RESTAURANT AND GET YOU A TASTE OF THOSE BEANS SEASONED WITH HAM, FAMOUS WAR EAGLE CORN BREAD, CREAMY COAL SHROUD AND DESSERT. IT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO SLAP YOUR MA MA AS THEY SAY.

SOMEWHERE DEEP IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST THERE IS AN AREA CALLED DEVIL'S HIGH BROW. VERY RUGGED, VERY REMOTE. IN FACT, ONE FOREST SERVICE BIOLOGIST CALLED IT THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. SO HOW ABOUT WE GO AND EXPLORE IT?

HIKING ALONG WITH US AND GREG MILLER AND GARY WILLIAMS WITH THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE. DEVIL'S EYEBROW IS A 364-ACRE AREA THAT'S LOCATED WEST OF WHITE ROCK MOUNTAIN IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST. IT IS KNOWN FOR ITS UNIQUE BOTANICAL, GEOLOGIC AND SCENIC QUALITIES.

THIS IS AN AREA THAT IS UNIQUE. IT'S GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES SUCH AS THE CURVATURE OF THE BOULDER, THE BLUFFS AND THE BOULDERS OUT HERE APPEAR FROM THE AIR TO BE AN EYEBROW SHAPE. AND THAT'S WHY, YOU KNOW, JUST THE GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT THEME, AND IT IS SUCH A SPECIAL AREA. THAT'S HOW WE GOT IT DESIGNATED SUCH IN THE FOREST PLAN.

A LOT OF REALLY NEAT ROCK FORMATIONS.

EVERYTHING IS UNIQUE. YOU DON'T FIND THIS MANY TREES IN SUCH A WILD LOCATION OF THEIR STATURE THAT YOU SEE HERE AND LOCATED IN SUCH A REMOTE PLACES. DEEP SOULS AMIDST THE LARGE BOULDERS MAKE IT UNIQUE. THE ROCK FORMATIONS AND WHAT'S GOING ON HERE WITH THE, WITH ALL OF THIS IS JUST AMAZING. IT'S A REALLY UNIQUE AND SPECIAL AREA. THAT'S WHY WE CALL IT A SPECIAL INTEREST AREA AND WE HOPE THAT PEOPLE WILL RESPECT THIS TOO, YOU KNOW, AND NOT COME OUT HERE AND TRASH IT UP. AS YOU HAVE WALKED TODAY, YOU HAVE NOT SEEN MUCH TRASH AT ALL. ONCE WE GET IN THIS AREA, IT'S PRETTY REMOTE AND IT'S PRETTY CLEAN. THERE ARE A LOT OF PLACES IN THE FOREST WHERE YOU GO TO WHERE PEOPLE HAVE LEFT THEIR WRAPPERS ACCIDENTALLY OR NOT, BUT IT'S SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO SEE. THIS IS A CLEAN AREA AND WE HOPE TO KEEP IT THAT WAY.

AS GARY WILLIAMS MENTIONED, MANY OF THE TREES IN THE DEVIL'S EYEBROW AREA ARE QUITE OLD AND STATUEEKQUE.

THIS IS AN OLD TREE THAT'S BEEN HERE, GOSH, 150, MAYBE, 200 YEARS. IT'S HUGE, BY ANYONE'S STANDARDS ON THE FOREST. IT'S BEEN HERE A LONG TIME. IT HASN'T BEEN TOUCHED, WHICH IS AMAZING WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST WAS CUT OVER IN THE LATE 1800s EARLY 1900s. THESE OLD TREES UP HERE ARE GROWING IN A UNIQUE SPOT THAT'S WELL REMOVED FROM ANYTHING ELSE. AND WE REALIZE THAT PROBABLY THE REASON WHY THIS WASN'T LOGGED WAS BECAUSE OF THE COBBLE STONE THAT YOU HAD TO CROSS OVER TO GET IN HERE, AND I WOULD IMAGINE THE EARLY LOGGERS DID NOT WANT TO BREAK THE LEGS OF THE MULES IN TRYING TO LOG SOMETHING LIKE THIS. SO WE THINK THAT'S WHY THIS PLACE IS HERE, PRISTINE LIKE IT IS, BUT AS YOU NOTICE, MANY OF THE TREES  IN THIS AREA ARE DEAD, THE RED OAKS, KILLED BY THE RED OAK BORE, AND WE ARE HOPING THAT A FEW WILL SURVIVE. THERE ARE SOME SHOWING THE POSSIBILITY THAT THEY WILL SURVIVE. THE RED OAK BORE ATTACK. BUT THIS ONE MEASURES 41.5 INCHES WHICH IS A PRETTY GOOD ESTIMATE BY SOMEONE IN OUR GROUP, BUT I THINK THIS IS ONE OF THE AMAZING OAKS IN THIS SPECIAL AREA.

ALONG OUR 3.5 MILE FOR SO HIKE MAINLY ALL BUSHWHACKING, WE COVERED QUITE A FEW POINTS OF INTEREST. A LITTLE CROSSING OVER A NATURAL BRIDGE LEADS UP A HILL TO A SPRIK. FARTHER ALONG THERE IS THE VALLEY OVERLOOK POINT AND DEPENDING ON THE TIME OF THE YEAR, THE VIEW CAN BE QUITE STUNNING. AN INDENTATION IN THE BLUFF WHICH HAS BEEN CALLED THE DEVIL'S LIPS HAS GIVEN THIS BLUFF THE NAME KISS BLUFF. LEGEND HAS IT IF YOU KISS THESE LIPS, GOOD LUCK WILL COME YOUR WAY WITHIN 48 HOURS. I CAN'T REACH THEM ANY WAY.

AFTER KISS BLUFER, THERE IS LITTLE LOOK OUT, WHICH OVERLOOKS THE SOUTH VALLEY. TO GET BETWEEN THE TWO VALLEYS OF DEVIL'S EYEBROW THERE IS AN OPENING IN THE BLUFF REFERRED TO AS THE GATEWAY. BUSHWHACKING PAST THIS POINT YOU WILL EVENTUALLY REACH ANOTHER BLUFF THAT IS QUITE UNIQUE. IT'S CALLED EASTER ISLAND BLUFF BECAUSE IT RESEMBLES THE UNUSUAL STATUESTATUES ON EASTER ISLAND E SOUTH PACIFIC. AS FAR AS UNUSUAL BOTANICAL FEATURES IN DEVIL'S EYEBROW, THE SO-CALLED DEVIL'S WALKING STICK CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION, BUT I DON'T THINK I WOULD WANT TO GRAB IT AND USE IT FOR THAT. THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE PLANS FOR DEVIL'S EYEBROW ARE NOT NECESSARILY TO BUILD A PHYSICAL TRAIL, BUT RATHER TO ESTABLISH A GEO REFERENCE TRAIL SYSTEM TO USE WITH A GPS UNIT.

WE ARE HOPING TO PROVIDE THE COORDINATES TO PEOPLE AND THEY CAN CHOOSE TO GO TO THIS COORDINATE FIRST AND THAT COORDINATE NEXT SO THERE IS NOT A DEVELOPED TRAIL SYSTEM. AND THEY CAN FOLLOW THEIR HEART'S DESIRE, SO TO SPEAK WHEN TRAVELING THROUGH THE WOODS, MUCH LIKE WE DID WHEN WE DEVELOPED THIS. WE JUST TOOK OFF AND WENT OUT THROUGH THE WOODS AND FOUND THESE PLACES. AND WHAT'S REALLY ALSO NEAT ABOUT THIS IS IF SOMEONE COMES OUT HERE AND THEY ARE EXPLORING IN OTHER PLACES AROUND HERE AND FIND SOMETHING THAT'S REALLY INTERESTING, THEY CAN G.P.S. THAT LOCATION, TAKE A PHOTO OF IT, AND SEND IT TO US AND IT MAY BE SOMETHING THAT WE COULD ADD TO THE GEO REFERENCE TRAIL SYSTEM. I THINK THAT'S A PRETTY COOL IDEA.

SO EXPLORE THE DEVIL'S EYEBROW AREA FOR YOURSELF, IF YOU DARE, DEEP IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST NORTH OF MULBERRY, OR GO BACK IN TIME DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM AT WAR EAGLE MILL NEAR ROGERS, BUT IF YOU DON'T DO ANY OF THAT, BY ALL MEANS TAKE A DRIVE ALONG THE TALIMENA NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY ATOP RICH MOUNTAIN. AND FOR MORE ON THESE DESTINATIONS OR TO ORDER A COPY OF AN EPISODE VISIT OUTSZ WEB SITE AETN.ORG/EXPLORING ARKANSAS. AND WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS.

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