Saturday was a typical Arkansas summer day – hot and muggy. Well I take that back, it was actually a bit cooler than normal, it was only 97 degrees outside. I had a big plan set for Saturday, a long drive that would take me down in the swamps and farms in the very bottom edge of southeastern Arkansas. As I stepped outside into the heat, I began to question it. Then as I drove farther and farther away from home, I decided to postpone that trip and try again later. No big deal really, it just meant that the insects, snakes and alligators at the swamps will just have to wait a little bit longer for the chance to eat me.
By the time I decided to turn around, I was in Pine Bluff. So I pulled off the freeway and took the opportunity to explore that city’s old downtown. Pine Bluff is an old river town (incorporated in 1839), built along the banks of the Arkansas River. In recent times, the town has fallen on hard times. And by fallen on hard times, I mean really it tumbled of the cliff of hard times. Several of the downtown buildings are abandoned, and parking lots are scattered with the broken glass remains of beer bottles. Several of the buildings are boarded up, but there was some life along Main Street. There was a big crowd at a clothing store called Super Bad, which I’m not sure if it was named after the film or just a comment on the quality of the clothes there. But beyond that stretch, the streets were quiet.
There was one other car in the parking lot at the old train station, which is now a museum. I walked around to the platform, just as a train was coming into the station. It was a freight train, so it didn’t bother to stop here. It just made its way on past, the whistle echoing across downtown.
I did not loaf.
Across the street from the train station sat a fine old building, which was once a Masonic Temple. It didn’t appear to be in use now, which is a shame.
Next to the old Masonic Lodge was a jewelry store that was still open. There were two clocks on the front, including this huge old and weathered one hanging over the sidewalk.
I like the sign for the business in the background – if it was open I’d have gone in to get some fashion with an attitude!
I got back in the car and headed back down Main Street towards the old courthouse. The Jefferson County Courthouse was built in 1856 and is an interesting old building. Across from the courthouse was another neat old building, which helped in getting some other shots of the courthouse.
There wasn’t much traffic around here. I felt pretty safe enough to rush into the street to get this view of the front of the courthouse from the middle of the road.
From the courthouse I walked around a bit more, past empty parking lots and more abandoned buildings. Several buildings were being slowly devoured by nature, adding a small touch of life to the empty buildings.
I drove around a bit more, before eventually giving up and heading back home. This is the last shot of the day that actually turned out. I just got a picture and didn't stop to buy anything.