History Talk--Royal?
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Thread: History Talk--Royal?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Royal, I posted on another topic that had to do with banking and advertising. I wanted to start a new topic, because I know nothing of these subjects and was probably posting under the wrong heading.

    But I am interested in the history of this town, I guess because so much of my personal history began here. I'm always wondering what brings people here, why they stay or why they leave. I left when I was 18, spent 25 years away, and then returned 5 years ago.

    I've been a student of the town's history for these past 5 years, and I'm always trying to learn more.

    It appears to me that after the big boom period of the late 1800's and early 1900's, Eureka Springs simply went out of style. People started putting their faith in medical doctors, and the Springs seemed to lose their power. Victorian Architecture in the 1930s, 40's, and 50's was not valued. In fact, I have an old decorating magazine from the 1940's and it has a story about this poor couple who had the misfortune of having to live in an old Victorian house. They talked about the gawdy hand carved staircase, the ugly gables on the outside, and many other terrible things. They explained how this poor couple was managing to live "in style" despite the fact that they were living in this old house.

    I found this story very amusing, considering how we cherish these old homes today. My point is, Eureka Springs during those years really didn't appear to have that much to offer. It would be like today inviting people to see a town full of 1960's ranch style houses with an attached garage. I think that maybe it was a natural decline, that really was no one's fault.

    Eureka has always been interesting to people, because it's very unusual, and the hills here are so beautiful. I do believe there is a spiritual magnetism that almost compells people to come. But for a time, it went out of style. When the 1970's came, people started looking around, and realized we had quite a treasure here with these old homes and buildings. When it was in style, people came back and preserved the old houses, and we have the town as it is today.

    It seems that simple to me. What do you think?


  2. #2
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    Lucinda-

    The history of any place may begin with a person's first experience of it. Children growing up in a neighborhood have no idea of what their house and neighborhood were like, or the world was like, before they were born.

    By the teen years the prejudices and preferences are pretty well set.

    The arrow of time points forward. The arrow of history points backward.

    Charles Dodgson, writing as Lewis Carrol, examined the history of mathematics, because he was a mathematician, through the looking glass.

    Mathematicians at the time were deeply concerned about DesCartes' negative numbers. Dodgson wrote the tea party about this.

    "Won't you have more tea?" the Mad hatter asks Alice.

    Alice asks, "How can I have more if I haven't had any?.

    The Mad Hatter replies, "If you haven't had any you must have more. You can't have less."

    For the history of Eureka Springs I would begin at the beginning if I knew where the beginning was.

    The place had no name or many names 10,000 years ago. Does the history of Eureka Springs begin with the name?

    It is a beginning.

    Legend has it that French and Spanish passed through here before there was a country.

    There were European colonials at Plymouth Rock 169 years before there was United States.

    There was a United States for 47 years before there was an Arkansas.

    There was an Arkansas for 53 years before there was a group of people and wagons gathered around an ancient rock basin on a hillside thinking about a name for a town exactly 90 years to the day, July 4, 1879, since the Constitution.

    Who were these people? Yankees, mostly, from New England, who settled Northwest Arkansas. Probably some who survived the Civil War and may have been treated here after the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern in 1862.

    Medicine, still mostly home remedies for them, meant healing plants and waters. Stories of such waters exist around the world.

    They were educated people who knew the story of Archimedes running through the streets of Syracuse shouting, "Eureka" and what the word meant.

    So the town celebrates July 4, 1879 as a beginning.

    But the town became an official Arkansas town on February 14, 1880.

    Another beginning.

    I believe the town, as a town, as a summer place for wealthy families that we see today, began with the railroad in 1883.

    The railroad was brought here from Seligman by friends of Powell Clayton who knew railroad people from his years as a Union General commanding Arkansas.

    The railroad brought people fairly new to real wealth, who brought architects who brought stone masons and carpenters who built hotels and homes for their summer place which looked like the ones the wealthy people had at home.

    From 1883 until the second decade of the 20th century, the building continued.

    But building America also continued as the railroads finally linked the Atlantic and the Pacific.

    The children of the founding families, senior citizens for their time, found new places to play.

    A silence settled over the town. The same silence that happens when a parade has gone by.

    That silence was pretty much unbroken until the 1960's with the arrival of migrating retirees.

    People who retired in the 1960's were born in the 1900's when families were mostly from small towns from the Allegenies to the Rockies in the largest contiguous land mass in the world devoted to agriculture.

    They left those towns with their Victorian homes for careers in the cities. When they retired they returned to their roots to the homes they admired as children.

    They found them here, bought them, brought them back from the edge, brought the town back from the edge with their money.

    The generation born in the 1920's visited their grandparents homes and wondered about the high ceilings, bay windows and grand porches.

    They were the Class of 1945 who graduated from WWII and the GI Bill and entered business mostly in larger towns and cities.

    And another beginning.

    When they retired in the 1980's and 1990's they had few roots in rural America and many had little nostalgia for northern cities either.

    So they retired from careers and snow and many found their way to Missouri and the Lake of the Ozarks and to Arkansas because of John Cooper, Sr. and his Cooper Communities.

    Their nostalgia was for cars they couldn't afford as teen agers. They bring them to parades all over America every year.

    They also have a history of barracks and Levittowns and little boxes made of tickytacky.

    They have a history of Gone With The Wind, The Magnificent Ambersons, Meet Me In St. Louis, An American Tragedy and the houses on the right side of the tracks.

    They find them here, today.

    Tomorrow's history you will write.


  3. #3
    sweetness&light Guest

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    Royal,
    You should write like that more often. I really enjoyed it.

  4. #4
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    Smile

    Ditto

  5. #5
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    Mar 1999
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    Royal, are you sure you weren't a history teacher at some time? Just curious, is the John Cooper you mentioned the one that Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista is named after?

  6. #6
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    Cindy-

    The Cooper Chapel was designed by Fay Jones, the architect who did Thorncrown, as a memorial to John Cooper, Sr.'s wife.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, Royal, that was wonderful.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2002
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    That was actually good AND informing. I must have eaten some of Alices mushrooms.

  9. #9
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    Royal-

    As usual, brilliant piece of prose. Gorgeous and provocative.

    Thank you.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
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    Eureka Springs, Ar.
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    Royal, thank you!!

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