Wednesday, Oct 30, Bella Vista, Arkansas
Fall colors were at the peak we have seen so far from Minnesota to Arkansas. But the day was foggy, misty, sprinkling and pouring rain so the good pix are few and far between. The weather also changed our plans a bit.
We drove from Mountain View to Bella Vista via Eureka Springs. We had planned to spend some time exploring Eureka Springs; instead we only had lunch there, saw a video of the town’s history, and researched the availability of going on a van tour next week. We figure we will have time to spare in Branson and Eureka Springs is only an hour’s drive from Branson.
The drive from Mountain View took us back through Searcy County, home of Leslie-which was mentioned in a prior blog. A brochure we had picked up revealed that Searcy County, per the 2010 census, had 8200 people. It also had 39 churches, none of them Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, or Muslim. That is about 200 people per church.
When we were at the Folk Art Center, the cooperage shop had an article about Leslie and how it was home in the early 1900s to the largest barrel making factory in America. When we went through the town, we did see a stave making factory. The population of Leslie went from about 1500 people in 1910 to 450 souls now.
So too Eureka Springs. It grew dramatically due to the springs found there and the claim that the springs had medicinal value. In 1879, the town grew from almost nothing to 10,000 people in less than 12 months. It became the fourth largest city in Arkansas at the time. Now the population is just over 2,100 and focuses on tourists. The rise and change of many small towns has been an interesting aspect of our trips.
There was a Road Scholar tour group of about 70 people from Houston staying at Mountain View also. They are probably learning more details than we did since there were seminars held for them. We have received their literature frequently. For now, we plan to continue on our own, setting our own pace and picking our own locations to stop.
The road to Bella Vista continued our pattern of hilly,curvy, two lane roads. Travel takes a while longer but with the fall colors it was enjoyable, even with the rain. After Eureka Springs we stopped at the Pea Ridge National
Pea Ridge was the crucial Civil War battle that kept Missouri in the Union. As we learned at the Missouri State Capital, Missouri was a very divided state. It was a slave state that did not secede but was riven by fierce and divided loyalties with many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War.
10,000 Union troops were chasing 16,000 Confederate troops-which included two regiments of Cherokee Indians. The Union troops included the largest percentage in any battle of non-English speaking soldiers, new immigrants to Missouri from Germany. When we were in Hermannn, MO, the tours there discussed how the Germans came here for the opportunity of freedom and were fierce defenders of the Union cause.
Several factors turned the battle for the Union. Early on, the two Confederate generals leading one arm of the Confederates were killed and the leaderless soldiers were without direction and did not participate in the battle. The Confederate primary general made a bold move to out flank the Union. Unfortunately his men had to march for three days to the desired location. They ended up arriving late and tired to the battle and ran low on ammunition because the supplies trailed too far behind the main column. The Union victory helped open the Mississippi River and allowed the Union to split the Confederacy in two. Most of the troops here moved onto battles east of the Mississippi for the duration of the war.
Given the weather, we did not walk the trails, but observed the exhibits, saw the movie, and drove around the battlefields.
We spent the night in Bella Vista with family of friends in the Twin Cities. Bella Vista is a town of 25,000 that has mushroomed in the last 20 years as a suburb of Bentonville. Previously more of a retirement community, it is experiencing the arrival of families and younger couples. We had dinner with our hosts at a long time restaurant in Rogers (a near by town), the Monte Ne Inn, with a great family style chicken dinner.
Ed Heimel and Chris Klejbuk Oct. 31 7 pm