Tuesday, September 20, 2005


(Run originally 3/24 and 3/25/04)

Ernest Simpson

Oh my goodness, what great stories about "Echo Dell" and, hey, there are some great stories about Bee Rock, too! Early on it belonged to the county, and was sold to Harding. From that point, it was fenced, posted, and Camp Wyldewood was constructed. Maybe you remember, Bee Rock was a gravel quarry, and the county mined 'blue granite' gravel from there. It was absolutely the hardest rock for gravel roads, with a gray/blue tint to the stone.

I think the words, "Bee Rock" and "Camp Wildwood" (Camp Wyldewood?) have been transposed on the map. More about that later....

Don sent a great map! Note the road ends on the map before turning back east from North Main. Now, in the early 50's, that road continued north (actually a narrow dirt road) and back slightly northwest across the small creek noted on the map, then opened up into a cleared field. There was a huge old house close to the river in the cleared field (maybe part of the Thompson farm?). It was another 300 yards after crossing the creek to the edge of the woods, where you stopped your car. Echo Dell is located at the bend of the river where the Thompson Farm Area is located. At one point, the county constructed concrete steps going down to the river, during the time the dam was under construction (I wonder if they're still there?).

Thanks for this map, Don, good going.

Mary Kathryn Van Patten James

OK, We drove all the way out North Main Street, past Clara Nell's house on the right, on past Rocky Branch on the right, on up the hill past the "city dump" on the left and paused at the very top of the hill to look back at the great view of the city. Finally the dirt and gravel road came to a narrow overgrown crossroad. A Right turn would lead to Camp Wildwood. Traveling straight ahead on a rutted, overgrown trail led to Little Red River and the area which was called "Echo Dell."

I have no idea who named it! I will drive out there and yell and see if there is an echo ..... Really, I guess I will drive out there one day and take a picture .... report back, if anyone cares. I know the road is blacktop now. I may not even be able to get to the river's edge like before.

You yell, you write, you take picture .. we’ll follow. –tlp-

Dan E. Randle

As I remember it, Echo Dell was out past Ernest's house, past the city dump, straight out the road until you ran into Echo Dell. Somewhere along the way, if you made a right turn, you ended up at Bee Rock. One summer, Jimmy Fortune, my sister Nancy, and I went out to Echo Dell for a cool-off. We took a watermelon with us, with the thought that we could cool it down in the river while we were swimming. Not so! The water was low and so hot it was almost like being in a present-day hot tub. Needless to say, the melon was hot when we got around to eating it. All in all, it was still an enjoyable outing. As simple as times were in those days, it didn't take much to keep us entertained.

Cutting school in the spring to go there with your girlfriend was the thing to do. The only problem was the ever-present ticks. There were a few of us that would be the first to go swimming in the spring, regardless of how cold the water was.

One time Walter Redman and I were out at Echo Dell on a hot summer day, no swim suits, no one else was there, what the heck lets go skinny dipping. We did and, you’re right: Georgia Allen and her cousin (can't remember her name) showed up. Naturally we had to keep our distance and couldn't come out of the water until the girls left. A little embarrassing at that time, but we got over it.

Before the dam was built at Heber Springs, the Little Red was unpredictable. I don't remember the exact year, but it was the late 40's when it flooded. Mom took us out to see it. The water had come up over the old bridge and was almost up to the old Poor Farm (any one remember the Poor Farm?). As far as fishing went, you never caught trout, just mostly Drum, Buffalo, Catfish, Bream and Perch. I hear that, since the big dam was built, the water now is very cold and they are catching trout along the river. I wonder if Echo Dell is still a swimming hole, since the water temperature has been lowered so much. Some of you still living in Searcy might want to check it out and send the rest of us AT's (Arkansas Travelers) some pictures so we can see the changes that have occurred over the years.

Yep, there’s trout: somebody put a trout hatchery up in Heber, just below the dam. –tlp-

Ernest Simpson

Dan, this is a great story. I have a desire to take a back pack and some good hiking shoes and walk back to that place on a sentimental journey. Yep, the river flooded in the 40's, around 48 or 49, and Highway 67 was under water. I have a story about that, you just jogged my memory.

The city dump was affectionately called "The Junk Pile" and the hill coming towards Searcy was called "Junk Pile Hill" (snicker here). Dwayne and Ronnie Holleman lived out that way, and the Clay brothers, Julius and Orbin, remember them? Great football players. And there were F.B. Canfield, and his brother, also.

I remember F.B. and Maggie Johnson once had a head-collision on the first bridge a mile north of East Moore on North Main. Why, I don't know, because you could see traffic coming for a long way ... I never knew why that happened. Old friend, you have gotten me going on that old stuff, I hope I can put something down before I forget it all ...

Yep, there is an echo at Echo Dell. When I was about 13, I had gained enough technique on the trumpet to play "To the Colors." I loved to stand on the porch of our little farmhouse and point the horn north, and see if I could hear the sounds coming back. On a crisp autumn morning, with the fog coming off the river, you could get great feedback.

Times haven't changed .... now at sixty something, each July 4th, I still get out my old horn, raise the flag at the end of the pool and give it, "To The Colors," in my loudest, most raucous tones. Wonder what all the folks in the subdivisions around us think. Well, frankly, my dear, I don't give ... (you know the rest.)


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