A while back, a bunch of us made a return visit to the abandoned mining town of Rush, Arkansas, and we even stopped to visit the Ku Klux Klan on the way.
Early that morning, Hiccup and I went and picked up Willard and DeeDee. Then, we headed over to grab Underdog, who was only wearing a blanket when we got there. When he was dressed, we started making the long drive down toward Rush.
When we got into Arkansas, I realized we were making better time than I had anticipated. So, once we got to Harrison, I decided to take a different way to Yellville. That way was going to take us straight through Zinc, Arkansas--home of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
As we made our way into Zinc, which is a tiny, almost-abandoned town that lies down a few winding dirt roads, everyone got to experience a bit of culture shock, since I was the only who had been there before. I grew up in a small town, but Zinc was like another world compared to it, like the land that time forgot. It was pretty much the embodiment of every bad Arkansas stereotype you've ever heard. There were dilapidated trailers and houses everywhere, some abandoned or half-burnt, as well as old vehicles all over the place. There were farm animals running loose, junk and trash littering all the yards, and no lawns to be seen. It was kind of sad, really.
I turned around at the edge of town and went back down a different road. We reached a sign that said Soliders of the Cross, and I announced to everyone that this was the property of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Underdog sarcastically suggested we drive on in, but I had already made up my mind that we were going to and cheerfully started driving in just to freak everyone out. I was a little worried, since it was a Sunday, that there might be people there, but thankfully there were no cars in sight as we pulled up the drive.
Supposedly, this was the biggest remaining KKK group in the United States, but you sure as hell wouldn't know it from the outside of the place. There were just a few small buildings sitting on an acre or so of land, but only one of them looking recently built. If you didn't know it was the KKK, you'd drive right by it and just think it was a country church. All it took was one look at this place to realize that the KKK didn't exactly have the membership it once did.
And just in case anyone gets the wrong idea... I'm no fan of the KKK by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am curious by nature, and it was interesting to show my friends the place, since most people will only hear rumors about it. So, don't take the fact that we took a joyride through there as some sort of approval of them, because it's not.
When we reached Yellville, we stopped at a local grocery store. We were meeting Firediver, Korb, and Brandofluck there, and they were already waiting for us. Everyone introduced themselves, since this was the first time our two groups had met each other in real life, and then we got on our way.
When we reached Rush, we drove past the remaining old buildings and parked down near the end of the drive that went through the area. We all got out and waited around for the Arkansas guys' fourth friend to show up, but he was there in minutes. With that, we loaded up our gear, and started walking down along the water. When we came to a low place, we crossed the water, then started making our way up a steep bluff. It was slow going, but it really was the quickest route to our destination.
At the top, a large mine entrance nearly two stories tall awaited us. We tossed some of our gear on the ground and headed inside. Just inside the entrance, there was an old camper sitting completely out of place. It wasn't that old, but it was in pretty rough shape and had obviously been there a while.
We went farther into the mine, past an old gate, and it was quickly apparent that this mine was much bigger than the other ones I'd visited at Rush. It just kept stretching back and back, in a long straight line. Occasionally, we'd see debris like old support beams or ore cart track, but it just kept on going.
Way back in, we came up on a pool of water that went about fifteen or twenty yards. Some of the group had worn waders or boots in expectation of it, but most of us hadn't bothered. It was only about a foot deep in places, but I still didn't feel like getting my feet wet for the rest of the day. So, I started climbing the wall along the pool of water while everyone else started sludging through it, although the Arkansas guys' friend started climbing along behind me. I wasn't sure we were going to make it all the way across without falling in, but we did. We got to the other side about the same time as the others.
On the other side of the water, there was an ancient Studebaker pickup truck. It was rusted beyond belief and had obviously been there for decades, but it was mostly intact. It looked like someone had liberated some of the parts over the years, though.
We went farther inside, and there was still quite a bit of mine left to see. There were several chambers, with rotten wooden support beams still standing in places. There were also pieces of ore cart track lying around half-buried in the rubble. In one part, we found a drill bit still embedded in the wall, as well as a large metal loop that we took turns hanging from.
When we were done there, we headed out of the mine and started making our way around the side of the bluff. We found several smaller mines along the way. Most of them were fairly small and boring, but we did find one that was particularly interesting. There was just a big hole, about the size of a living room, that went down into the ground. At the bottom, there was a large mine, with an entrance farther down the bluff. We all went around and explored it, and I took pictures of everyone looking down the hole from inside.
After that, we made our way back across the creek, where we met a large group of people who were also heading up to the mine. We chatted with them for a minute before moving back down the path. At a certain point, our two groups separated, since I wanted to show Hiccup and the others some of the gated mines on the trail before we left. I'd later kick myself for that, since the Arkansas guys found an even more impressive mine after we separated.
We headed down the trail, past some old steam equipment that had been there forever, to one particular large mine that I wanted to show them. There were huge crystals lining the ceiling of the mine, as well as the walls outside of it. It was strange. It also probably a good thing it was gated since people would've chipped the crystals out of the walls.
Once we were done there, we headed back to the car and drove on into Harrison to get a bite to eat. Then, with our bellies full, we went on back to Springfield.
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