Friday, September 30, 2005


There’s a new place to blow off a little steam, and a new/old place in which to do it, and it’s all thanks to one man: Craig Christiansen.

Craig is a man of many parts. He is, for instance, a professional horse show announcer. He has also been a gun & badge-toting investigator for the state’s Department of Transportation. He owns a model train shop, and he’s refurbishing the Bald Knob Railroad Depot.

He’s also the only guy I’ve met lately who can out-talk me, no small feat, as both my friends and enemies will attest.

Craig is still busy moving his business, Arkansas Traveler Hobbies, from Pine Bluff to Bald Knob, so at the moment, he's only open Wednesday through Saturday, but he’s somehow managed to find time to seriously intertwine himself in the social and economic structure of Bald Knob. His first visit here, not too terribly long ago, caused him to call his wife, Cathy, and say, “I think I’ve found our home town.” Her response? “I’ll start packing.”

Now, my reason for mentioning all this is that Craig is not the kind to just open a storefront and leave it at that. In an interestingly structured deal, he opened his model train store in the old (1915) Bald Knob train depot. This was built so long ago that, actually, the line wasn’t the Missouri Pacific: it was still the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern (a story in itself).

Anyway, the renovations so far are impressive, and the ones to come are even more so. Right now, besides having an amazing stock of model train rolling stock and accessories, he’s building not one, but TWO demo layouts, so you can watch the pretty choo-choos roll, and ask questions to your heart’s content.

Craig’s stated aim is to have a shop where it’s comfortable just to stop in and visit: loiterers welcome, and you’re bound to meet someone interesting; I already have in just my first visit there.

Craig and his wife, Cathy (who has her own businesses) live in Velvet Ridge, but have already snapped themselves and their two sons smack into the heart of Bald Knob.

If you’ve never been there, incidentally, the Depot sits right at the spot where the Memphis line and St. Louis lines either split or come together (depending on whether you’re heading north, south, and/or east or west). If your travel is by car, come down 367 to the heart of Bald Knob (location of its only traffic light), and turn east a block to the tracks, then look to your right: you can’t miss it.

Take a look at our past. It’s sliding into our future again, thanks to people like Craig Christiansen. You might want to mark October 8th on your calendar. That’s the date for a “Walk Through History,” a walking tour of downtown Bald Knob that’ll end up at the depot. Just gather at the Citizen’s Bank at Elm and 367 at 11 a.m. that Saturday. (501) 324-9788 will get you more details.

You can e-mail Craig, incidentally, at, and their website is .


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