Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking the Scenic Route: Dickson to Natural Dam

Natural Dam.  Photo by James Starbird
It goes without saying that Arkansas is a beautiful place to ride.  Riders are blessed with unlimited stretches of twisty, curvy, mountain wrapping, river bending, forest peeking highways all across the state.  We'd like to share with our readers a series of articles featuring a few great destinations to enjoy while visiting the area during the Bikes, Blues and BBQ rally, all within two hours or less from Dickson Street.

Our first scenic route of this series covers 47.6 miles one way, about an hour's drive from Fayetteville. Historical sights along the way include the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, the Pyeatte Mill ruins in Canehill, as well as the dam and low water bridge over the Mountain Fork River in Natural Dam.  Click here for a link to the route map >>

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
About 20 minutes out of Fayetteville on HWY 62, you will arrive at the historical Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. Recognized nationally as one of America's most intact Civil War battlefields, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park protects the battle site and interprets the Battle of Prairie Grove, where on December 7, 1862, the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi clashed with the Union Army of the Frontier in a day of fierce fighting resulting in about 2,700 casualties. This marked the last major Civil War engagement in northwest Arkansas.

Here you can walk over hallowed ground where history happened. Walk along the ridge and in the valley where the heaviest fighting took place. Follow the one-mile Battlefield Trail or travel the park's five-mile Driving Tour. Tour the historic structures in the Ozark village.

Civil War Reeinactment in
Prairie Grove
The park hosts Arkansas's largest battle reenactment biennially in even-numbered years during the first weekend of December. Activities include guided tours through Union, Confederate and civilian camps; military drills conducted by reenactors; cooking, spinning and lace-making demonstrations; and living history programs. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. each day, battle demonstrations feature charges and counterattacks by Union and Confederate infantry and cavalry on the actual battlefield near the historic Borden House.

More information on the Civil War in Arkansas can be found on the Arkansas History Commission website.

Pyeatte Mill.  Photo by Tammi Thiele
Pyeatte Mill
Along Arkansas 45, about 4 miles south of HWY 62, you will encounter the Pyeatte Mill ruins.  This site was added to the Historical Registry in 1982. The site features a pull off area where you can park and take a moment to view the ruins along the way.  The mill was a three-story wooden structure on a 30’ x 70’ foundation of rock. On the north side, a lean-to housed an engine room with a steam engine which supplied power when water from Jordan Creek failed. This was one of the few steam and water powered mills in the country. The foundation for the steam engine is still intact. The mill has a 36-foot diameter overshot wheel. It was shipped in 1840 by wagon
to Cane Hill for John Truesdale. In 1866, the mill was moved one mile north, to it's present location by Pyeatte and Moore, who continued to operate the mill. The site is now a roadside park beside Arkansas Highway 45. The waterwheel and a portion of the lower floor and walls remain. The mill is listed as “The Pyeatte Mill Site” on the National Regisiter of Historic Places.

The mill, sitting on approximately 8 acres of land, is owned by the Cane Hill Restoration Association, an organization formed in 1942 to restore historic buildings in the Cane Hill proximity.

Natural Dam
Photo credit Shonda Jenkins & Travis Harris
Natural Dam.  Photo by Charles Cady
Natural Dam
One of the easiest accessed waterfalls in Arkansas is at Natural Dam on HWY 59. Located approximately 15 miles north of Van Buren in the Boston Mountain range of the Ozark Mountains, the dam is so perfect it looks man-made but is an all-natural rock wall. It’s nearly 200 feet wide, spans the entire width of Mountain Fork Creek and is viewable from your motorcycle.  A low water bridge is positioned in front of the dam, which opens up a perfect opportunity to park your bike on the bridge and get a few great photos with the falls in the background. It’s a great place to have a picnic while surrounded by breathtaking scenery and the lull of the falls.  Depending on the current water levels, it is often possible to walk across the the top the of dam.   From HWY 59 turn left at the Natural Dam Community – the picnic area and waterfalls come into sight after making the turn.

HWY 59 is a great ride through the Ozark National Forest where you will travel for many miles along curvy blacktop with the Mountain Fork River on one side and majestic bluff outcroppings on the other.  Overall, a great little ride you might enjoy one morning during your stay at the rally.  Historical pull offs, magnificent, rustic Ozark scenery and a beautiful ride.  All you need now is someone to enjoy it with.  Ride safe and enjoy the view!  

Click here for the map >>

References: / Natural Dam 

Arkansas State Parks / Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park 
The Turner Brigade / Prairie Grove Battlefield Reeinactment

Pyeatte Mill / Mill
Pyeatte Mill /