Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for August 22, 2013

We recently drove the length of the Florida panhandle. After observing thousands of hermit crabs on the beach at a state park, we decided to drive to the small town of Carrabelle to eat at the Fisherman’s Wife Restaurant. We pulled up just as the open sign was switched off. At the next restaurant, a barbecue place, the owner let us in though it was also her closing time.

Inside the restaurant were three customers, two of whom were cops. We traipsed in sunburned and trailing sand and headed to our table. I was wearing my Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirt and one of the cops said, “The only problem with you coming in so late is that you’ll have to call the hogs before we let you leave.” Woo. Pig. Sooie.

Off in a corner was the weatherworn third customer, a man in the middle of a 13-month journey circumnavigating the lower 48 states on a bicycle. He planned to set up his tent by the restaurant that night despite the alligators.

One of the kids commented later that it was like an episode of the Twilight Zone. The cop turned out to be a nice guy with the goal in life of living on Beaver Lake part of the year so he can attend Razorback football games. He told us that before we told him where we’re from. Small world.

That is my point, the word is out that this is an interesting place to live and the numbers prove it. While Eureka Springs proper has only had modest growth the last few decades, the population in Carroll County west of the Kings River has more than tripled. In 1960, it was only 2,844, while today it is 8,728. A large portion of that is the Holiday Island boom, but all those houses edging Beaver Lake have people in them, too.

And as I was told by a local Realtor, they’re not making land anymore. The best I can figure, Carroll County west of the Kings River covers 103,101 acres. At the present population, that comes out to 12 acres per person. Tend it wisely.