Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for January 15, 2014

Zelpha Long told this story about sledding in Eureka Springs and said I could repeat it.

“Crescent Grade was sooo much fun! We would sled down, then Donnie Weems had a huge piece of linoleum tied to the back of a Jeep. He would put several kids on the linoleum and drive back up the grade thus slicking and packing the snow again. At the bottom was always a big bonfire built by Donnie or Arlie since they always had access to diesel fuel. You could warm up at the bottom. At that time the city police would block off the top and the bottom for the kids so we could sled. That stopped when the city decided they might get sued. Kids who had no sleds would go down on metal signs, car hoods turned upside down, anything they could get to slide.”

Speaking of Eureka Springs sledding weather, George Nichoalds, who operated the local weather station for more than four decades, recorded an especially interesting stretch of winter weather in January of 1918. During three weeks, 20 inches of snow and ice fell and on the twelfth the temperature dropped to minus 17 Fahrenheit. As far as I can find, that is still the record low temperature for Eureka Springs in modern times.

The other morning here in the hollow, my thermometer recorded a low of minus five° F and that felt plenty cold. My brother-in-law has a friend from Iceland, a man known locally as “The Viking.” The Viking says that once the temperature drops below zero, it all feels the same. Since my experience with sub-zero temperatures is irregular and limited, I’ll defer to him.

By the way, the original Eureka Springs weather station was established April 21, 1902 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Weather Bureau and in 1910 George Nichoalds volunteered to run it. He recorded a lot of weather here, not retiring from the position until 1953. Apparently a person prone to stick with something, George also worked several decades for the Eureka Springs Post Office. Mr. Nichoalds died in 1968 and is buried in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.