On Saturday, an old friend of mine had an idea of driving through the Delta of eastern Arkansas and do some exploring. He had the weekend free, meaning his wife and kids were out of town. Instead of doing yardwork in the summer heat, he thought it would be more fun to aimlessly drive around the state. Since it meant I got to take pictures, I was happy to oblige.
We drove east out of Little Rock into the flat expanse of the Delta. We switched the satellite radio to the "Bluesville" station, since it seemed fitting for the landscape. We drove through the small town of Scott, and headed south past miles of rice and corn fields. The first stop was this bayou, located just off of the side of the road. I don't remember what the name of it was (there was a sign), and didn't see a name for it on Google Maps. It was a neat little spot though:
We drove a bit further and saw this abandoned old church, just outside of the town of England.
The church looked like it has been empty for decades. There was an old cemetery next to it, with grave markers dating back to the 1910s. I went out to take a few pictures, which I always feel a bit bad about. I don't know how I'd feel if in the future people were taking pictures of my gravestone because it looked artfully worn-down. Hopefully the people whose markers I took pictures of don't mind, and won't haunt me.
The pictures look like the church is located in the middle of nowhere. But actually it was bizarrely sitting next to a golf course. Apparently the England Country Club was built right next to the cemetery and abandoned church. Seeing the forlorn old church sitting next to a fairway while people were playing golf was an odd juxtaposition.
We drove into England and had a look around. England is a small town (with a population of 2,972, which still makes it the third largest city in Lonoke County), but it makes up for it's size with a huge collection of old buildings. Lots of old cotton gins and other rusty structures line the roads in and out of town.
From there we headed south on Hwy. 15 towards Pine Bluff. We soon passed through the small town of Tucker. The town of Tucker was named after the old Tucker plantation, which opened in 1871. The plantation is gone, but you can just barely see the old grand plantation home. It sits abandoned and nearly surrounded by tall trees. Nowadays, Tucker is more known for the Maximum Security Prison there. On seeing the signs on the side of the road near the prison, we decided to stop for a pictures.
We headed further south, crossed over the Arkansas River and drove into Pine Bluff. Pine Bluff kinda seems like the Arkansas version of Detroit. It was once the third largest city in the state, but it's been struggling recently. We drove past blocks of empty buildings in downtown and then got out and walked along Main Street in the nearly 100 degree heat. We went by the old train station (now a museum), and past empty storefronts that hadn't seen any business in awhile.
This is the building that most recently housed the Band Museum, which boasted as being the largest museum in the US devoted to band music and its instruments. The window here has a little info on it, highlighting the fact that the first ever soda fountain in Jefferson County was in this building, dating back to the 1880s. But the soda fountain and the band museum are silent now. The museum has a website, which still sadly promotes the museum's 10th Anniversary party, scheduled for November 4, 2004.
This was taken a bit further down the block, next to a music store that is still open and clinging to it's home on Main Street.
I also felt a little bad while taking pictures in Pine Bluff. The city is a bit down on their luck, and I didn't want people to think I was exploiting it for pictures (even though, I guess, I did). So if anyone from Pine Bluff reads this, I hope they don't mind and won't haunt me.
After that it was time to head on back home to Little Rock. We managed to make it back in time for my friend to be able to meet the family when they came back in town, and for me to get to watch the FC Dallas game that night (which was totally worth it since it ended in a thrilling 0-0 draw).