Day 3: December 21, 2009
Eureka Plus
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Here's the Christ of the Ozarks statue at Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The only way to approach the huge statue is from the rear yet I can't recall ever seeing a picture from that side. Maybe I just haven't been paying attention or maybe this first picture really is unique. Gerald L. K. Smith is responsible for the statue and is buried next to it along with wife Elna. Smith intended to build a religious theme park behind the statue but never quite made it. However, he did get the Great Passion Play going. The play is credited with bringing huge numbers of visitors to Eureka Springs though a local told me that the crowds aren't at all what they once were.

I had passed straight through the historic section of town on the way to the Christ statue. Now I returned to look around a bit. Eureka Springs is not the county seat but, in 1883, was designated a judicial district because traveling to the courthouse in Berryville was difficult. Getting the designation was fairly easy; getting the courthouse was a bit trickier. The historic Basin Park Hotel is at the top of the fourth picture. It's owned by the same outfit as the Hotel Seville where I stayed last night. I never quite reached the 1905 Basin Park Hotel...

...but I did reach the 1886 Crescent Hotel. Among things worth looking at in the impressive lobby is a Welte Philharmonic Salon Model 4 self-playing organ. It was originally purchased around 1912 by the Packard family for their summer home in Michigan. Outside, the big porch offers some great views. An open area is currently filled with Christmas trees decorated by local organizations such as the Boy & Girl Scouts.

I got a nice surprise in Rogers, Arkansas, when I realized that it is the home of Daisy Outdoor Products and that there is a Daisy Museum in the town. In fact, it's right on US-62B. As a boy, I once had a single-shot BB gun that I believe was a Daisy and I found a similar looking gun in the museum. My gun was a hand-me-down from some relative and I assumed it was from the early fifties or maybe the forties. The museum specimen was a 1912 model. Perhaps the rifle I carried as a lad is now a rare antique worth thousands. It vanished, of course, long ago.

There are a few products available at the museum and they include a fancy Red Ryder kit for about forty bucks. But a remanufactured Red Ryder kit is also offered for only $22.95 so you can "shoot your eye out" without breaking the budget.

This is some of what's left of Monte Ne; a major resort of the early twentieth century. Other concrete structures exist beneath the surface of Beaver Lake. I first learned of Monte Ne from a John Murphy post in the American Road Magazine forum. That was also the first I'd heard of William "Coin" Harvey who founded both Monte Ne and the Ozark Trails Association. Harvey was a bit older than Carl Fisher and possibly a bit more colorful, too. (He once ran for president!) But the two men did have some similar dreams and accomplishments and comparison is natural. Harvey's Ozark Trails Association was created to guide folks to Monte Ne just as Fisher's Dixie Highway was created to get people to Miami Beach. Even though he called it a "Highway", the Dixie was a network of routes leading from places with potential customers to Fisher's resort. Maybe Harvey was a little more up front with his plural "Trails" that lead to his Monte Ne. Of course, Miami Beach is filled with high-rises while Monte Ne is filled with water.

The first picture is, I believe, of the concrete fireplace section of Missouri Row; one of Monte Ne's hotels. The remaining pictures are all of a larger tower that was once part of another hotel, Oklahoma Row. The teens who were fishing nearby (and one of which managed to scale the outside of the tower to the second floor) said I was the second guy who'd come by with a camera today. The first was from a Rogers' newspaper and took some pictures of them fishing by the tower. Watch for them.

A few pieces of Monte Ne survive elsewhere. Just up the road, a relocated section of Oklahoma Row is slowly disintegrating and a pair of concrete chairs sit in a park in Rogers. Near the chairs, there's a sign that has nothing at all to do with Monte Ne. It identifies Rogers, Arkansas, as the town where Will Rogers' wife, Betty, was born.

"Coin" Harvey wasn't the only man in the area with lofty goals. Just a few miles away, in downtown Bentonville, Sam Walton opened a little store in 1950. It was a Ben Franklin franchise but Walton's name was on the building and soon on several more. On the outside, that original store looks much as it did in 1950. Inside, it's a free museum with a friendly greeter. Wal-Mart's headquarters is still in Bentonville but has expanded.

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