Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hwy. 64

Last weekend I travelled to Charleston to watch my youngest cousin graduate from high school. Since I was in the western part of the state, I tried to find a few places to visit that might result in some decent pictures. But after some heavy storms, the weekend was bright and sunny. I wanted to visit some waterfalls, but the sunlight kinda messed that all up.

On Sunday I headed home, and decided to take the scenic way back. I drove along Hwy. 64 from Ozark, heading towards Clarksville. Along the way is the small town of Altus, which is one of my favorite small towns in Arkansas. Considering its size, Altus has to be one of the most cosmopolitan small towns in Arkansas. It has four wineries, and some really good restaurants. It's also one of only two places in the state where you can buy beer on Sundays (which may or may not have been my main reason for visiting there).

This shot was taken just off of the square in Altus, where vines are quickly overtaking an empty building that might have once been a liquor store.

Nature seems to be trying to take over Altus, this plant was growing on the side of a building along the square...

I went to college in Clarksville, which is just 20 miles or so away. I made several trips out to Altus during my four years as a college student, so I'm a bit fond of the place. A few of those trips were to take pictures, and I remember stopping to take a picture of this mailbox before. It was probably about 10 years ago when I got a picture of it, and the painted American flag on the side of the mailbox has faded a lot over the years. I don't think my shot of it taken back in 2000 ever turned out, and the film I shot that day probably hasn't been looked at in years. But this is a mailbox along Hwy. 64 outside of Altus...
P5233370 copy

Another spot along Hwy. 64 near Altus is this old stone building. The roof is gone, and only the walls remain. The ruins of what must have been a house still stand guard along the road, surrounded now by tall grass and weeds. I've stopped at this spot many times before, and taken quite a few pictures of this old building.

I couldn't help but be reminded of old Route 66 when I saw this old stone building along the side of the road. It looks like a lot of the old buildings that you pass by when you travel out west along Route 66. But actually, this stretch of Hwy. 64 does have a small connection to Route 66. In the seminal novel about Route 66, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, this stretch of road is name-checked. In chapter 12, just after Steinbeck coins the phrase "the Mother Road," he mentions Hwy. 64:
"66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership, from the desert's slow northward invasion, from the twisting winds that howl up out of Texas, from the floods that bring no richness to the land and steal what little richness is there. From all of these the people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.

Clarksville and Ozark and Van Buren and Fort Smith on 64, and there's an end of Arkansas."
From there Steinbeck describes the roads converging on Route 66 in Oklahoma, and then follows the route with a painstaking accuracy. It's interesting to read that now, having travelled that route. When I first read The Grapes of Wrath a few years ago, after having made my first trip west along Route 66, I was startled to see this small stretch of road that I've travelled along many times in Arkansas mentioned.

But unlike the travellers of the past, I instead headed east towards Clarksville. It was getting late in the day, and I thought that I just might be able to see a few waterfalls before it got dark. I drove towards Haw Creek, and hoped there was plenty of water....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i found this picture looking for somthing in my area and this picture showed up on google so i followed its path this building is actually an old jail that originally was by the railroad the rail raod was eventually moved futher south not to far from this building is an african american graveyard that very beautiful headstones but i am sorry to say hasnt been kept hardly at all over the years this building is located in coal hill not altus and less than a mile from this building lives a man with four girls his name is brian mccormick just an intresting fact LOVE YOUR PHOTOS