Cache page is at: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache...d-2909aeb591aa or just search up GC2596F.
This is the first part of a lead-in story for one of my upcoming caches in the history series. Many have expressed interest in others that I have done about sometimes little known, or hard-to-find, bits of our history. Some of these include "Last Man Hanged", "Scrouged Out", "Old Tippytown", & "Hawks 37".
My normal modus operandi on these is to include the history inside the cache, with only a condensed version on the cache-page itself. I like this method as it keeps from having 5 pages of info to scroll through, when you load the description into a GPSr.
But this one, since there's a semi-long story behind it, will be detailed here, condensed on the cache-page, & I'm not sure what in the cache itself....since it'll be a few days before I get around to placing it. I need to do some scouting beforehand to see if I can identify some of the more minor locations related to it.
I've tried for accuracy, but this happened 100 years ago....if it happened at all. So don't yell if I get something wrong. Enjoy!!
Most of us have probaly heard of "ghost-lights"...or "spook-lights", "earth-lights", "mystery-lights"...or whatever you want to call them. Probaly the most famous are the Marfa Lights in Texas, which I have seen in person. They will most definitely make your skin crawl. In almost all cases of them, the exact cause has never been 100% verified. Today, it's common to blame them on cell-phone towers, distant towns, & far away automobiles. But one must remember that the reason these lights are so well-known is that they have been seen for often well over 100 years. Some of them even have well documented reports from American Indians dating back 300-400 years. There simply was no man-made lighting wandering around in the boon-docks back then. That's what makes them so strange.
Arkansas has them also. A couple instances are the "Dover-Lights" & the "Gurdon-Lights". But there is a lesser known occurence just a few miles from my house. It has never had but one single enduring story as to it's explanation. And the VERY spooky part is that the first mentioning of these lights was right around the time that the explanation story happened. So that will definitely make you wonder, even if you don't believe in the supernatural. As with all of these mystery-lights, they can't be approached. If you try that, they either move away at the same speed you are approaching them, or just disappear altogether. Kinda like chasing a rainbow. There have been however, a few reports of the lights THEMSELVES moving past a person, as if they were intelligent & having an actual agenda to go somewhere, rather than just appearing at random. This is very rare & the only example I could find of any lights doing this is the St. Louis Ghost-Train Lights. (St. Louis, as in Saskatchewan, Canada...not Missouri) Out of thousands of reports of these, only a dozen or so have reported them coming close to a person, and even then they were at least 50-100 feet away. Never once, as far as I can tell, have any of these lights anywhere actually tried to interact with a person, but simply ignore them as if they aren't even there. So there's no reason to think they pose any danger to people.
These previously mentioned Yell county lights don't really have a standard name, as they are seen very rarely, compared to some of the more popular ones. Some names that have been floated around are "Fourche-Lights", "Nimrod-Lights", & "Plainview-Lights". I prefer the long-winded name of "Old Fourche Log-Train Lights", because that ties in exactly with the only explanation that has ever been given them.
The story starts a few years before the turn of the century. A man called W.W. Gardner (Garner?) was one of the chief founders of the present town of Plainview. He was a well-to-do guy, being part invester in the now-defunct Fort Smith Lumber Company. That company had a sawmill in Plainview, near where I once had a cache. Matter-of-fact, the sawmill may have been the very reason for the founding of Plainview. Mr. Gardner was one of the chief owners/builders of the company & perhaps needed a nearby town to attract workers. None being close-by, he started one.
The mill did very well for years, eventually felling practically every tree within miles. It may be odd to think that the Plainview area was once devoid of trees, but you have to also remember this period of time was when "Cotton Was King". The farmers wanted fields, so were tickled to sell their timber to someone who would clear that land for them to then use for farming. Many of the old cotton fields have now grown back up, or been purposely replanted with pines. So now it's hard to believe that forests used to be cotton fields.
So it wasn't long before the mill was needing a new source of timber. Cedar was more in demand then than pine, since there was a large market for cedar shingles & shakes. Gardner sent a survey party out into the surrounding area to find where the largest concentration of big cedars were. They found that in the mountains south of Plainview & Rover, on the opposite side of the Fourche River. The plan that Gardner chose to retrieve these massive amounts of logs was an extension of the railroad which already came from Ola to Plainview.
By this time, he had already started up another sawmill in Plainview, devoted to pine timber. This was located on the SW edge of the town & had no rail connection yet. So the route took an odd loop SW from the main mill, which was straight north of Plainview, to the second mill. Here it turned due south for a couple miles, eventually curving to the east, roughly following the Fourche River to a crossing near where the dam is today. After going over the river, it continued to Long Hollow, then turned to the west & went all the way to an ending a few miles south of Rover. He chose this long way because the bottom-land under what is now Lake Nimrod had little solid base to it. The amount of ballast that would need to be hauled in to build a rail bed would cost much more than this long route into the solid ground of the Fourche Mountains. And so it was finished a couple years later.
The railroad is long gone today, but it's old grade can still be found in several places. I've even found chunks of coal in the streams south of Rover. The railroad had a coal-dump up in the mountains above there to get the trains ready for the return trip to Plainview. Now going back a couple paragraphs, we can see where the railroad made that funny curve back to the east, near where Sunlight Bay is today. Here's what it looks like on a current map. And this is also where our story behind the cache happens to take place, thus some of the annotations on the map, which will be explained later in the story:
And here is what a portion of the old tram looks like today. It's usually NOT as muddy as it is in this picture. But occasionally is. That will be explained later:
So now we are ready to delve into the story about the lights sometimes seen on this old railroad grade, and what incident locals believe is causing them.
It's about to get very strange, & very spooky. But you'll have to wait till tomorrow for this to be continued in Part II.
Part II stays over here: