The other morning in town I stopped at the bakery next to Harts. Walking up to the counter I passed a tall gentleman wearing a blue ball cap that said, “NCIS Eureka.” While ordering one of those ham and cheese deals that tastes so good, I started wondering about the hat. While ordering stuffed muffins to hand out to the kids, I decided I would ask the tall man where he had acquired the cap and wondered if I might mention to him that my father had worked for the precursor organization to NCIS for several years. The man had been standing next to the tables where locals frequently gather for morning coffee and conversation, but he was gone when I turned around. Exiting the air conditioning into the humid warmth, I scanned the sidewalk and parking lot knowing that the overwhelming odds were that he was just a fan of the popular television franchise and not a retired special agent or whatever, but I wished I could have made sure.
For thirty years, O’Connor’s Texaco Service Station operated in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In about 1954, Duane O’Connor bought an old Dodge Power Wagon so they could offer a wrecker service, too. Over the years he bought a number of different wrecker trucks to be used in the business. The one pictured below is a 1955 model Chevrolet truck. He eventually sold this vehicle to Howard Weems. Duane operated the wrecker service until his back gave out in about 1980.
My sister bought a copy of the 1954 annual yearbook of the Eureka Springs High School. Below is the front cover.
Next is the list of students and faculty sponsors who comprised the staff of the 1954 edition of the annual yearbook. There are several familiar names on the list. Donna O’Connor, for instance, is my wife’s aunt. Tommy Walker is the father of Laura Loudermilk who was the maid of honor at my wedding. Many of the surnames listed represent the oldest families of Eureka Springs and the Western District of Carroll County, Arkansas.
The Nature Conservancy has announced it purchased 4,557 acres on the Kings River south of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This would be the land owned by the family of the late J. Hugh Liedtke of Pennzoil Oil. While he was alive, J. Hugh Liedtke was the largest land owner in Carroll County.
I’d heard a rumor that the land was going to be developed and feared the worst. Instead, seven miles of the Kings River will be protected. That stretch of the river includes the Mason Bend where the John Southerland farm was located and my Granny was raised.
This all started with a discussion of what I always thought of as “Little Lake Eureka,” the small spring-fed lake at the end of Douglas and Steele Streets. I’ve always thought it was one of Eureka Springs’ prettiest spots. I’ve read that it was the city’s first water supply and that it was fixed up nice as Eureka’s main swimming hole at one time.
Here is a Yahoo! aerial photograph showing that area of the city. I circled the lake, but it is so small it is hard to make out.
Using Google Maps’ Street View, this is what you’ll encounter if you drive to the end of Steele Street:
This is what you’ll see if you drive to the end of Douglas (Street or Road, I’ve seen it both ways):
And here is a view looking up the lake from the dam:
If you look toward your right, you’ll see this picnic table under a little bluff with some nice rockwork:
As an aside, I noticed this item in the November 17, 2007 police report in the weekly Lovely County Citizen: 9:53 a.m. — A caller informed police that one of the raccoons which frequent Little Lake Eureka was apparently a little under the weather.
So what does all of this have to do with the aforementioned Water Street?
I did a little reading up on Little Lake Eureka and in one spot it mentioned that Water Street ran up this same hollow and was the original main entrance into the city. I couldn’t recall a Water Street and had a difficult time imagining that hollow as the main entrance into the city.
I perused a modern street map of Eureka Springs and couldn’t find Water Street. But then I read an article referring to the hollow from Little Lake Eureka to the Flint Street Chapel as the Water Street Park. That seemed to be a clue.
Then I recalled that the website www.eurekaspringshistory.com had scans of some old maps from the Carnegie Library. On a 1923 Sanborn map the website displays, there is indeed a Water Street between Douglas on one side and Flint and Steele on the other side. These streets run off the edge of the page shown and the map doesn’t include the lake, so I’m still having a tough time picturing Water Street. If it weren’t snowing so hard right now, besides being dark out, I might run down there and take a look.