Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Delta

The camera and I headed out the other weekend for a drive through the Arkansas Delta. It was a hot summer day, but thankfully not as humid as it can be here in August. Last year I did a similar drive through east Arkansas, and the humidity was so thick that the camera lens would fog up every time I got out of the car.

I drove east out of Little Rock, passing by miles and miles of farms and fields and an occasional swamp. One of the first small towns I drove through was England (population around 3,000). This is an agriculture town, and it contains a good collection of interesting old buildings.


Further down the road was this old cotton gin (I think?), in the small community of Coy.



Next stop was the town of Stuttgart, which bills itself as the "Rice and Duck Capitol of The World." Stuttgart is the home of Riceland Foods, which is the world's largest miller of rice. The town is dominated by several large rice elevators, which looks like skyscrapers when seen from the distance.


Stuttgart is also home to the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, which features a few recreations of buildings from the earliest days of the city. This church is supposed to be similar to ones used by the towns German settlers.


South of Stuttgart I saw this farm building standing tall in the middle of dusty field. I turned onto a bumpy dirt road to try to get closer, and maybe take a few pictures. I'm not sure what this is, or what is does. But it really stood out in the miles of flat farmland.


The next stop on the Delta tour was Helena-West Helena. The conglomeration of Helena-West Helena is fairly new, the two cities combined in 2006. But they are both old towns. Helena was founded in 1833 as a port on the Mississippi River. It was a major steamboat stop, due to its location between Memphis and Vicksburg. West Helena was established in 1917, and was home to the more industrialized part of the city. Helena became famous for the Blues, being home to one of the first radio stations to play blues music. It's now home to the King Biscuit Blues Festival, one of the largest in the country.

But like most cities in the Delta, Helena and West Helena were stung by population loss and economic stagnation. Downtown Helena is proof of that, with several abandoned buildings sitting along empty streets.







Several buildings have collapsed, but you can tell that there has been a lot of effort to revitalize Main Street. Hopefully they can turn things around here, it's a shame to see old downtowns fading away.

Along the way back home, I stopped by the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area. I got there right after sunset, and took a few pictures at Hickson Lake. I stayed out there long enough to be dinner for several mosquitoes, and then headed back home.


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