Took a vacation day from work on Friday and headed up to the Buffalo River for a camping/float trip with my cousin. Despite how miserably hot it's been here so far this year, the weekend actually looked promising. It would actually be on the cool side up in the Ozarks - highs in the 80s during the day. The timing couldn't have been better.
The only problem was that every other person around who wanted to float the river also had the same idea. And with all the dry weather, there was really only one area that had enough water to float. So we headed up to Buffalo Point, and found the campground already full by the time we arrived Friday afternoon. Luckily, in one of those wacky "small-world" type things, my cousin knew someone camping up there who let us borrow part of their campsite. Crisis averted.
While setting up our tent, a light rain began to fall. It would rain off and on for the rest of the night, which really cooled things off. It was actually a bit chilly that night. I hoped that the rain would create some early morning fog on the river, so I dragged myself out of my sleeping bed around 6:00 on Saturday and headed down to the river. There was no fog, but I took a few pictures of the quiet river. These were some canoes still lined up along the shore:
Later on that day we joined the crowds of people who were floating the river. I was pleasantly surprised that there was still a decent amount of water in the river (although we did have to drag the canoe a few times). I wasn't brave enough to take my camera onto the canoe, since I was sure that it would end up falling into the river. But it was a great day on the water. I even managed to not get horribly sunburned, which tends to happen on float trips.
On Sunday morning, we awoke to thunderstorms. There is something really peaceful about listening to the soft patter of rain hitting the tent. Until, of course, the tent starts leaking. And also when a stray bolt of lightning hits uncomfortably close to the campground. Pretty quickly, we were both awake and starting to strike down the tent.
After clearing the campsite, we headed out to visit the old ghost town of Rush, along the Buffalo River. It's located only about 20 miles or so from Buffalo Point. It's an interesting place to visit, a series of old buildings that are the remnants of an old mining town.
Zinc was discovered in the hills around Rush in the late 1800s, and mining soon began here. Rush grew to it's largest population during World War I, when nearly 5,000 people are thought to have lived and worked there.
Today, most of the buildings are gone. A few old homes sit along the road leading into Rush, surrounded with fences to prevent people from going in and damaging the buildings.
At the end of World War I, the zinc market bottomed out. The mines were eventually closed and abandoned. Although a few people stayed at Rush, the population dwindled away. The post office closed in the 1960s.
This is a view of part of old Rush, from a nearby trail. This is the old Taylor-Medley Store, which was the town's general store and post office. It closed down in 1956.
You can see some new wooden beams in the old store, which look like they were recently installed. Luckily it looks like the Park Service is working to prevent the old building from collapsing (which it kinda looks like it's pretty close to doing).
After that we headed back home. The storms had moved out, and it became hot and sunny. It was 64 degrees at Buffalo Point that morning. But when I got home to my apartment in Little Rock, it was a muggy 99 degrees. I think I prefer the cooler weather at the river. So much, that I'm already daydreaming about another camping trip....