A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Trip To Rich Mountain

Me and Uncle Joe at the Lodge.  Addie had Joe hold my
hand so I wouldn't fall off the side of the mountain.

One Sunday afternoon in May of 1965, my Aunt Addie and Uncle Joe Carmack decided to drive to Rich Mountain. They offered to take me and my sister Janet along with them, but for some reason Janet declined.  Not me.  I'd heard about Rich Mountain.  I'd never been there, but I knew they had a little train that you could ride on, so that was enough for me to overcome my fear about being so far away from home.  I was going to Rich Mountain!

Addie and Joe had no children of their own, so Addie was like a second Mama to all the Yates kids.  Addie was one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, but she had one drawback - she was a worrier.  She worried about whether or not we were warm enough, or cool enough, or worried that we might get sick from something we ate.  Right now, she was worried about my eyes.  There we would be, on top of that mountain, that much closer to the sun.  But there would be no retinal damage on young Billy.  Joe, give him your sunglasses.

Uncle Joe and me riding the train.

So, Addie, Joe, and a sufficiently Ray-Banned Billy set out for Rich Mountain.  The drive must have been uneventful, since I don't remember anything about it.  But, as soon as we arrived at the top of the mountain, I spotted the miniature train.  That would be our first order of business.  So, my Uncle Joe and I waited in line for the train load up.  Uncle Joe managed to pry his lanky frame into the seat beside me, and off we went.  I was amazed at how long the train ride was.  We passed through woods that seemed far removed from the rest of the park.  When we'd come up to a road, the little train would let out a whistle just like the big trains did.  Too soon we arrived back at the little train station. 

A rare moment without my sunglasses

Just a short distance from the miniature train was a real, full-sized steam locomotive.  They must have had a time getting that thing on top of Rich Mountain, but it was a major attraction.  I climbed all over it, operating the controls and pretending to blow the whistle.  Aunt Addie made Uncle Joe climb up on there with me, just in case I got hurt.  When I got tired of playing engineer, I walked over to the old military tank that was next to the locomotive.  I climbed on top of it, but didn't go inside; the hatch was welded shut. 

Me and Uncle Joe atop the tank.

After that, we got back in the car and drove up to the lodge.  This was the old lodge, not the one that you see on Rich Mountain now.  It burned down sometime in the 70's, I think.  It was the most elaborate thing I had ever seen.  We didn't go in, we just looked around outside. 

I don't remember anything about the trip home.  But I did enjoy telling Janet about all the things she had missed.  I really felt big; it was the first time I had done anything like that by myself without my twin. 

Addie and Joe are both gone now.  They were very special to me and to the rest of my family. 

1 comment:

  1. Comments from Facebook:

    Janet Musgrove I wish I would have been brave enough to make that trip with you that day. I know I missed an awesome trip! I loved going up there later on and enjoyed many visits to the mountain and always enjoyed the train ride.
    October 18 at 10:31pm

    Debbie Pyles Grandpa Brewer use to scare all us girls silly, driving up the road to Rich Mountain..we would scream our heads off and he would Laugh..
    sure do miss those good ol days..
    October 19 at 12:22am

    Sandra Walker do u remember the conoco station that was at the one and only stop back when
    October 19 at 3:59am

    Bill Yates I think so Sandra. Where the Scott County Bank is now. I think it was owned by Theo Wagner.
    October 19 at 7:08am

    Lydia Blalock Butler I have stories of Rich Mt. and lots of pictures of trips we made there. I have one picture I enlarged for my sisters of our whole family sitting beside the ruins of the 1st lodge. I was about 2 years old. The picture was taken in 1959. I loved going to ride the train in later years. We took our granddaughter to Rich Mt. the summer of 2009 and we all rode the train once again. She is asking to go back. The old locomotive engine is still there to climb on. It is getting pretty rusty now.
    October 19 at 7:06pm

    Bruce Sikes The Mobile station owned by Theo was where the bank is the Conoco was across the street where the Corner Mart is located. My Pop anUncle Jake owned the Conoco.
    October 19 at 7:29pm

    Phil Yates Brother Booze took us up there one time and we stopped at a chinchilla farm. They also had beautiful big rabbits. I would lie in bed at night and try to figure out how I would strike it rich in the chinchilla buisness. Would have made a good Mayberry story for Opie.
    October 19 at 8:46pm

    Lydia Blalock Butler I remember that Chinchilla farm. Daddy stopped there one time. I would never had remembered that if someone hadn't mentioned it!! LOL
    October 19 at 8:48pm