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Exploring Arkansas June 2014

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Mossy Bluff National Nature Trail / Boat Builder / DeSoto Bluff Trail Park / Reed's Bridge Battlefield Heritage Park
The Mossy Bluff National Nature Trail begins at the William Carl Garner Visitors Center in Heber Springs and meanders along a bluff, offering spectacular views of the Little Red River and Greers Ferry Dam. The lost art of handcrafting wooden canoes and kayaks is kept alive by a boat builder in Bentonville. DeSoto Bluff Trail Park in Arkadelphia overlooks the Ouachita River and serves as an outdoor classroom for area school students. Reed's Bridge Battlefield along Bayou Meto just south of Jacksonville, preserves the site of a forgotten Civil War skirmish in 1863. It also includes an 1860 era replica of a farmstead.

TRANSCRIPT

IN THE HEBER SPRINGS AREA THERE ARE SEVERAL TRAILS YOU CAN TAKE LOOKING OVER GREES FERRY AND ONE IS THE MOSSY BLUFF NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL. LET'S CHECK IT OUT. THE MOSSY BLUFF NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL IS LOCATED AT THE WILLIAM CARL VISITOR CENTER. THE TRAIL GOES ALONG A BLUFF AND ENDS AT THE OVER LOOK AND OFFERS A GREAT LOOK AND. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO REST AND ENJOY THE VIEWS BEFORE GOING BACK TO THE VISITOR CENTER FOR A TRIP THAT IS 1.6 MILES THAT IS ROUND TRIP.

IT'S NATURAL BEAUTY. IT'S MOUNTAINOUS ARE YOU ROLLING AND NICE OVER LOOKING BEAUTY AS COMPARED TO SOME OF THE OTHER MOUNTAIN RANGES AND YOU DRIVE FOR MILES AND STOP BUT HERE YOU DRIVE AND KEEP LOOKING. IT'S A LOT OF PLATEAUS I GUESS, A LOT OF PEAKS. IT'S INTERESTING HISTORY WITH THE DAM AND THE HATCHERY. THAT WAS INTERESTING. I WAS WONDERING WHERE THE COLD WATER WAS TO RAISE THE TROUT.

WE'RE FROM MISSOURI AND JUST LIKE TO GET OUT AND EXPLORE DIFFERENT STATES AND WE DECIDED THIS WOULD BE A GOOD AREA TO START EXPLORING ARKANSAS SO WE HAD TO COME BY AND SEE THE DAM AND BEAUTIFUL VIEW, JUST WISH THE SUN WAS SHINING.

WELL WITH TIME YOU HAVE TO FISH IN THE RIVER.

YES WE WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT. DIDN'T BRING OUR EQUIPMENT ALONG THIS TIME BUT HAVE TO DO THAT SOME TIME.

IT'S QUITE EVIDENT BY THE MOSSY BLUFF TRAIL GOT ITS TIME OF THE OVER THE BLUFF IS MOSSY INDEED. THIS IS ALSO THE BUCKEYE NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL WHICH WAS BUILT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MOSSY BLUFF TRAIL FOR PERSONS THAT CAN'T NEGOTIATE THE REGULAR TRAIL. THE BUCKEYE NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL TRAIL IS WHEEL SHARE ACCESSIBLE. TABLES PROVIDE A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO EAT IN THE AREA. THE BUCKEYE NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL IS LOCATED AT THE MIDDLE PORTION OF THE MOSSY BLUFF NATIONAL NATURE TRAIL AND YOU CAN ACCESS IT AT THIS MIDSECTION IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HIKE THE ENTIRE TRAIL. ONCE YOU DO GET BACK TO THE VISITOR'S CENTER IT WOULD BE WORTH YOUR WHILE TO CHECK IT OUT AS WELL. THE EXHIBITS PORTRAY THE HISTORY OF THE AREA, THE PIONEERS THAT SETTLED HERE AND THE OPERATION OF THE DAM FORMING THE LITTLE RED RIVER.

TONY ELIASEN OF BENTONVILLE IS ONE OF THOSE GUYS THAT PROBABLY A LOT OF OTHER KAYAKERS AND CANOERS ENVY BECAUSE HE BUILDS THE BOATS HE TAKES OUT ON THE WATER.

AFTER I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL I WENT TO CAR PENT REE SCHOOL TO LEARN TO BUILD HOMES AND 20 YEARS LATER I AM DOING A JOB IN BELLA VISTA AND TAKE UP THIS OLD DECK AND I HAD SOME GOOD CEDAR WOOD AND 16-FOOT LONG AND RARE THAT FIND AND I CAME UP WITH THE IDEA LET'S DO A WOOD KAYAK AND THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL AND I NEVER DID ONE AND IT WOULD BE A CHALLENGER SO I WENT TO YOUTUBE IF YOU WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING THESE DAYS. THERE'S A LOT OF RESOURCES ON YOUTUBE AND LEARN TO BUILD A VOTE AND BE YOUR OWN DENTIST IF YOU WANT TO AND IT'S AMAZING AND I DID MY RESEARCH AND LET'S DO IT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS AND I MADE MISTAKES AND LEARNED FROM THEM AND KEPT PRESSING FORWARD AND LEARNED HOW TO BUILD BOATS.

CUTTING OUT THE HATCH IN A WOODEN KAYAK IS CRITICAL AND THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR.

WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS FIND OUT THE EXACT POSITION TO MAKE THE COVER SO YOU MEASURE 13-14 TIMES TO CUT IT AND IF YOU CUT IT WRONG THERE IS NO GOING BACK.

I WILL PUT MY HAND THERE SO IT DOESN'T FALL.

SO I OFFERED MY ASSISTANCE AND I DIDN'T WANT TO SEE THE KAYAK WITH 250 HOURS OF WORK END UP ON THE WOOD PILE OUTSIDE.

YOU DID A GOOD JOB.

IN CASE YOUR WONDERING HOW DO YOU MAKE A WOODEN KAYAK WATERPROOF THERE IS A RESIN.

THE FIBERGLASS STRENGTHENS WHAT YOU GOT AND PROTECTS IT. THIS IS THE SHEET OF THE FIBERGLASS AND YOU DRAPE IT OVER THE WHOLE THING AND YOU MIX UP RESIN AND HARDENER TOGETHER AND POUR ON TOP AND AS IT HITS THE FIBERGLASS THIS WILL DESPAIR AND YOU ARE LOOKING THROUGH THIS AND SEEING THE WOOD IN THERE SO IT'S A REALLY NEAT THING.

TONY LIKES TO USE SEVERAL TYPES OF WOOD IN HIS BOAT CONSTRUCTION.

WE USE CEDAR A LOT BUT EVERY WOOD HAS ITS OWN CHARACTERISTICS. SOME ARE SOFT AND FLEXIBLE. SOME ARE REAL HARD. IF I WAS TO USE A MAPLE IT CUTTING AND TEARS OUT. BEFORE IT LETS ITSELF BE CUT THE FIBERS TEAR OUT. IT'S THAT HARD BUT THE CEDARS WORK DIFFERENTLY, AND ACTUALLY THE WOOD IS KIND OF LIKE PEOPLE. SOME OF US ARE EASY TO WORK WITH. WE DO WHAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO WITH LITTLE FUSS BUT OTHERS ARE HARDER TO WORK WITH, HARDER TO SHAPE AND WE RESIST BEING SHAPED AND WE TEAR OUT COMPARED TO WHAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE. I WILL TAKE THE WOOD AND SHAPE IT AND STAND ON IT AND IF NECESSARY I APPLY A LOT OF HEAT AND TWIST THE WOOD WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE AND WHEN I AM DONE I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT. THE LORD IS LIKE THAT WITH PEOPLE. HE CAN TAKE SOME REAL ROUGH STOCK AND TWIST THEM INTO SOMETHING THEY NEVER THOUGHT THEY COULD BE.

WHAT TONY DOES ISN'T EXACTLY A LOST ART BUT THOSE FOLKS WHO ARE SKILLED AT THIS ARE FAR AND FEW BETWEEN.

IT IS RARE TO FIND PEOPLE IN THIS AREA THAT DO THIS CRAFT. WE MAY HAVE 300 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S. AND ONLY A THOUSAND OF US KNOW HOW TO BUILD THESE THINGS SO IT'S A RARE SKILL. I WISH MORE PEOPLE WOULD TRY TO BUILD THEM, NOT ONLY TO BUILD A BEAUTIFUL THING, BUT TO ENJOY PUTTING THE WOOD TOGETHER AND CREATING SOMETHING. THERE IS NOTICE BETTER ACCOMPLISHMENT, FEELING, SATISFACTION FROM TAKING SOME LUMBAR AND TURNING IT INTO A BOAT YOU COULD ACTUALLY USE.

SO THE MORAL TO THE STUDY ACCORDING TO TONY ELIASEN WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANTED TO ALWAYS DO IS BUILD A BOAT OR DO SOMETHING ELSE JUST DO IT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE SEE I BUILT A WOODEN BOAT THAT IS NEAT. I WANT TO DO IT. ONE GUY SAID I BOUGHT THE BOOK AND I NEVER GOT AROUND TO IT. SO WHEN PEOPLE SEE THIS STORY THAT I BUILT A BOAT AND I HOPE IT INSPIRES THEM AND LOOK AT THEIR BUCKET LIST AND I ALWAYS WANTED TO RUN A MARATHON AND REMEMBER GO BUY SOME SHOES AND TOMORROW RUN A MILE. IF YOU WANTED TO SKY DIVE GO DO IT. IF YOU WANTED TO RIDE A BULL GO CALL YOUR DOCTOR AND HAVE YOUR HEAD EXAMINED AND IF YOU WANT TO DO IT JUST DO IT. DON'T LET ANY EXCUSES GET IN THE WAY. WHETHER A BOAT OR SOMETHING ELSE DO THAT THING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO.

IN JUST A LITTLE BIT WE'RE GOING TO HIKE BLUE, GREEN AND YELLOW TO THE OUACHITA BLUFF. WE WILL TALK ABOUT EXPLORERS THAT CAME UP IN 1804 AND THERE WERE BUFFALOES AND BEERS THAT LIVED RIGHT HERE.

WITH STUDENTS FROM OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY IN ARKADELPHIA AND OTHER STUDENTS A UNIQUE OUT DOOR EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN TAKING PLACE IN THE AREA.

WE STARTED THIS IN 2009 WHEN IT WAS CALLED PLACE BASE EDUCATION AND YOU GO TO A PLACE AND STUDY THAT AREA AND IN ARKADELPHIA IT'S THE "WASHITA" RIVER BLUFF AND WE HAVE BROUGHT STUDENTS TO THE BLUFF AND DEVELOPED LEARNING STATIONS AND THEY SEE THE BLUFF AND LEARN ABOUT THE WATERSHED AND COMPASSES AND WE DO THE TEACHING AND THE FOURTH GRADERS DO THE LEARNING BUT I'M NOT SURE WHICH WAY IT IS AND IT'S A WIN-WIN FOR OUACHITA AND FOR THE 40TH GRADERS TO COME.

I LIKE JUST THE NATURE THE BEAUTINESS OF ALL THE TREES, AND I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT THE COMPASS AND HOW MANY YEARS OR WEEKS THAT IT TAKES TO DECOMPOSE.

WHEN YOU LEAVE TRASH HUH?

IT'S JUST BEAUTIFUL OUT HERE.

ESPECIALLY THE OVERLOOK OF THE RIVER; RIGHT?

YEAH.

I DEFINITELY THINK IT'S VERY BENEFICIAL. LIKE WHEN I WAS A KID I LOVED GOING OUT DOORS. CAMPING WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS SO I AM ENJOYING GETTING THESE KIDS ABLE TO COME OUT HERE AND HAVE FUN LIKE I DID.

AND GET AN EDUCATION.

RIGHT.

AND THE EDUCATION ABOUT THE FORGOTTEN EXPEDITION AND THE HUNTER-DUNBAR EXPEDITION WHICH EXPLORE THE RIVER AND THE HOT SPRINGS.

WHEN YOU USE A MAP -- IT'S BETTER TO USE A CAMP PASS AND TELL YOU THE BETTER WAY TO GO AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GOING ON THE MAP AND THEY NEED THE CAMPUS.

WHO ARE WE? [INAUDIBLE]

THEY'RE BETTER THAN I EXPECTED TODAY. SOME GRADES WERE MORE WILD THAN OTHERS BUT THEY CAME AROUND. LEARNED TO ORIENT A MAP A LITTLE BIT. THEY WERE ENJOYING WHAT THEY WERE DOING. IT'S BETTER THAN THE CLASSROOM IS WHAT THEY SAID.

[INAUDIBLE]

YES, MUCH BETTER THAN A CLASSROOM AND THAT'S BEEN THE PROBLEM. NOT ENOUGH KIDS GETTING OUT INTO THE OUT DOOR CLASSROOM.

A LOT OF THEM THEY STAY IN SCHOOL. THEY'RE IN A TOWN LIKE ARKADELPHIA. TODAY THE KIDS CAME UP. A LOT OF THEM DON'T GET TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF ARKANSAS, KNOW HOW TO CANOE AND TENTS AND THE HISTORY THAT WE V A LOT OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS DON'T LET THEM COME OUT. THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN WHAT ARKANSAS HAS TO OFFER. THIS TRAIL IS A BLESSING FOR OUACHITA AND THE STUDENTS HERE AND GO OUTSIDE AND LEARN FIRST PERSON AND THE ARKANSAS BLUFF AND THE TRAIL.

THIS IS ARKADELPHIA.

JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT WE VISITED ALL THE CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELDS IN STATE ADD ONE MORE, REED'S BRIDGE BATTLEFIELD. REIDS BRIDGE WAS A TOLL BRIDGE NAMED AFTER THE OWNER AND THE BRIDGE AND THE WAR AT THE TIME LEFT SEVEN DEAD INCLUDING TWO CONFEDERATES.

REED'S BRIDGE BATTLEFIELD ALONG BAYOU METO IS ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES AS VIRTUE OF THE STATUS AS THE MOST INTACT BATTLEFIELD LOCATED WITH A LITTLE ROCK CAMPAIGN AND THE BATTLEFIELD THAT BEST REPRESENTS THAT CAMPAIGN. IT'S NORTH WORTHY AS THE BATTLE THAT WEAKENED THE UNION DRIVE TO CAPTURE LITTLE ROCK AND LEADING TO A DUAL A WEEK LATER BETWEEN TWO CONFEDERATE GENERALS.

BASICALLY WHAT WAS HAPPENING THE UNION ARM WAS TRYING TO GET TO LITTLE ROCK AND MILITARY ROAD WHICH IS HIGHWAY 161 WAS THE ESTABLISH ESTABLISHED ROAD AND WHEN YOU'VE GOT SUPPLIES AND CANNONS LIKE THAT YOU WANT TO GO THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE AND IT WAS THIS ROAD. THE CONFEDERATES WERE TRYING TO STOP THE UNION ARMY AND THE BATTLE WAS HERE IN AUGUST FOR TWO DAYS AND REALIZED THEY COULDN'T HOLD BACK THE UNION ARMY ANYMORE AND THEY SET FIRE TO THE BRIDGE AND THEY TRIED TO RUSH THE BRIDGE BUT THEY WERE CUT TO PIECES AND THEY NEEDED TO FIND ANOTHER WAY TO LITTLE ROCK AND DIDN'T HAPPEN UNTIL AROUND SEPTEMBER 11 AND MOST OF THE CONFEDERATES HAD ALREADY ABANDONED LITTLE ROCK.

INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT HAVING FORSEEN THE PROBABILITY OF FALLING BACK ACROSS BAYOU METO CAPTAIN JOHN MHOON, A REBBAL ENGINEER HAD GIVEN THEM FLAMMABLE MATERIAL EARLIER AND AS THE LAST OF THE GUARD CROSSED IT THE BRIDGE WAS TORCHED. AT THE JACKSONVILLE MUSEUM OF MILITARY HISTORY WHICH BY THE WAY IS THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS OF ITS KIND IN THE NATION YOU CAN LOOK AT ARTIFACTS FROM THE BATTLEFIELD AND THE WEAPONS USED, BULLETS AND SHARP NEL AND THINGS FROM REED'S BRIDGE AND YOU CAN TOUR A 1860 REPLICA OF A HOMESTEAD AND FARMSTEAD.

THIS IS WHAT A HOMESTEAD WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE IN ARKANSAS IN THE 1860'S SO YOU WOULD HAVE STARTED WITH A SMALL CABIN TO HAVE A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD AND THEN A BARN TO PROTECT YOUR LIVESTOCK AND THEN A KITCHEN WHICH IS SEPARATE FROM THE MAIN LIVING QUARTERS. IT WASN'T UNCOMMON FOR THE KITCHEN TO CATCH ON FIRE AND OBVIOUSLY YOU DIDN'T WANT YOUR HOUSE TO BURN DOWN AND A LARGER CABIN ULTIMATELY FOR THE FAMILY.

AND YOU HAVE REENACTMENTS HERE?

WE DO FROM TIME TO TIME. THE CONFEDERATES AND THE UNION FIGHT IT OUT AND ENDS THE SAME WAY EVERY TIME BUT IT'S STILL ENTERTAINING.

THE THING WITH THIS IS ACTUALLY ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

RIGHT. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE PUT A HOMESTEAD ON THIS SITE. IT FREQUENTLY FLOODS SO YOU WOULDN'T PUT ONE HERE BUT FOR CONVENIENCE SAKE AND EVENTUALLY WE WILL DO LIVING HISTORIES OUT HERE WE HAVE THE GARDEN AND BUILD HERITAGE PLANTS THEY DID AND DO THAT.

THERE IS A TRAIL HERE.

YEAH, YOU CAN TAKE A KAYAK OR CANOE. IT'S SEASONAL SO WE NEED A GOOD RAIN AND THERE IS A WALKING TRAIL AND WE HAVE SIGNAGE ALONG THE WALKING TRAIL THAT GIVES MORE IN-DEPTH STORIES OF THE BATTLE AT REED'S BRIDGE.

REED'S BRIDGE BATTLEFIELD ALSO HAPPENS TO BE ALONG THE TRAIL OF TEARS.

IT WAS PART OF THE TRAIL OF TEARS AND ACTUALLY THIS ROAD AS I MENTIONED WAS CALLED MILITARY ROAD AND PART OF THE PURPOSE OF THEM BUILDING MILITARY ROAD WAS FOR INDIAN REMOVAL SO THIS WAS PART OF THE LAND ROUTE OF INDIAN REMOVAL.

ONE OF THE FIRST TRIBES TO CROSS THE BRIDGE AT BAYOU METO WAS THE CHOCTAW AND THEN CHEROKEE WERE DIVIDED INTO ATTACHMENTS FOR THE JOURNEY WEST. ONE CONSISTED OF 60,000 CHEROKEE THAT CROSSED IN 1838 AND IT'S POSSIBLE THEY CAMPED IN THE GENERAL VICINITY. THIS DETACHMENT WAS THE LARGE LARGE PARTY OF NATIVE AMERICANS THAT USED THE BRIDGE DURING THE TRAIL OF TEARS. SO PAY A VISIT FOR YOURSELF TO REED'S BRIDGE BATTLEFIELD JUST SOUTH OF JACKSONVILLE AND FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION OR OTHERS OR A COPY OF OF AN EPISODE GO TO OUR WEBSITE AND DON'T FORGET TO LIKE US ON YOUR FAN FACEBOOK PAGE AND WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE OF "EXPLORING ARKANSAS".

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