Thursday, June 3, 2010

Indian Cave on Calico Rock Bluff

Click images to enlarge.

View Video Here.

A property-owner from Calico Rock, Ed Matthews, recently asked the EIC Crew to visit the site of an interesting and very unusual cave within the city of Calico Rock. Ed and others with properties near the cave have long wondered about the origins of the unique rock walls that have been built inside the natural shelter and asked us to investigate and add our insight.

On Saturday, May 29th, 2010, the EIC Crew, joined by Tony McGuffey and his wife Roberta as well as by Jeff and Laura Snyder, visited the site during a preliminary trip to prepare for a future expedition to more thoroughly investigate what we found. The cave, which lies only a few feet from a main County Road, has a carefully concealed entrance, the mouth having had a stone retaining wall built in front of it and backfilled to create a small slit in the earth with steps leading to the cave below. The natural shelter is approximately 40 feet wide and as many feet deep with walls constructed of stone to create three seperate rooms resembling a warehouse or underground dwelling. In fact, a natural hole in one wall of the cave opens into a small chamber containing clear, fresh water which stands in a natural reservoir. This "cistern" is accessible from above the cave as well as from inside. The largest man-made wall runs the width of the cave and sports a doorway and two wondows perched near the roof of the shelter.

The property-owners near the site have never spoken with any long-time residences of Calico who remember anything at all about the use of this cave. No one in living memory seems to have any idea whatsoever how the site was created or for what it was used. Speculation persists.

Some have offered the suggestion it was used as a speak-easy during the days of prohibition. Others have guessed it might have been used as storage for munitions during the Civil-War, we found on our preliminary's very moist inside the structure. Buddy, a local landowner who has lived near the cave for 20 years, told us that they had tried keeping potatoes in the cave but they soon rotted suggesting that the cave would not have been used for the purpose of storing produce of any kind.

Personally, considering the fact that there were many in Izard County during the Civil-War who opposed slavery and who were also defiant towards the Confederacy, I believe it is possible the site could have been used as a stop on the notorious Underground Railroad, though its just as possible some home-owner during the latter part of the 19th century simply built the walls in the shelter cave as a summer home to stay cool during the suffocating heat of the season.

The EIC Crew has asked those who were along for this preliminary visit to the site to share their own thoughts about what we observed. We also invite readers to join the conversation. We will be revisiting this post in the future after we have had a chance to more thoroughly investigate the site. We hope to even dig a few small "test-holes" to see what kind of artifacts we can find which will help to give a better picture of how the site was used in the past...and who actually used it.

We welcome your comments!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Backtrack, Forward - Ho!

I know. Terrible, ain't it?

We set up a journal, start publishing descriptions of our adventures, then just quit!

We oughta be ashamed of ourselves!

Well...hopefully we can spend a little time retracing our steps in a general way over the past TWO DAD-GUM YEARS we've failed to update the EIC Journal! Then, perhaps we can start all over again.

The last entry to the journal (apart from the publication of a letter from our friend, Cindy Cooper) was way back in June of 2008. It covered the hazards of getting out among nature in the hot, humid months of summertime in the Ozarks. We've found over the past 3 1/2 years that the hardest time of the year to persuade ourselves to get out and explore is when the tiny flesh-eating monsters lie in wait and will suck you dry if you've not already been drained by the oppressive heat and humidity! It's MUCH easier to get out in the snow, ice, and cold driving rain than it is to wade out into a field or grove of biting insects, by golly!

Despite the complaints, however, we did manage to learn something during the summer of '08 that has been beneficial to our goal of helping preserve the history and culture of the county. To avoid the weeds, woods, and the perils the former, we began visiting cemeteries in the county. This new tactic really opened up a whole new window into understanding the history and culture of this unique and wonderful place. As we visited these places of rest and began to learn about the lives of those buried there, the colorful and interesting history endeared the county to us even further than previously.

What we've learned over the past couple of years is this:

Izard County was the Wild West before there even WAS a Wild West!

We visited 17 separate cemeteries during the summer of '08. Since then, we've visited 19 more. You can find each listed on the sidebar of Exploring Izard County

Mind you, though we're often apprehensive about getting into the woods during the months of monsters, that doesn't mean we were complete wimps! We were able to visit many wonderful places during the summer of '08 including some of our favorite places like the Trimble House, the Jehoiada Jeffery Homeplace, The A.C. Jeffery Homeplace, The Hunt-Copp Mill remains, and Hobo's Den.

During the summer of '09, we continued our tactic of trying to stay out of the weeds by resuming our visits to cemeteries. We were rewarded by finding such historical jewels as Wayland Arbor Cemetery. But, of course, we also visited other very interesting places like the Rector Log Barn, Moser Schoolhouse, Shady Grove Schoolhouse, and the Pleasant Grove Schoolhouse (converted into a store-building along Arkansas 56.