The Old Railroad Dam


I was raised by my grandparents in a very small town just out side Fort Smith, Arkansas. Highway 71 was our main street and the only paved road in town.

A gravel road ran along side our house and I used to lay on my tummy under our beautiful Hackberry tree and gaze into the woods just across the road.

I wished with all my might that I could go and explore the woods. My brother had told me such fascinating tales of what lay within them but I was not allowed to go until I was about nine years old and then, only if my grandfather took me.

Iíll never forget the first time he let me tag along. He was going to look for honey bee trees.

We went across the road to a path that led into the woods. My brother told me that the path had once been a road that led to the old rail road dam where there was a deep, dark lake. He said they used to pump water out of the lake into a tower to water the old steam engines. But that was long ago, now the tower lay on the ground in pieces, covered by underbrush. Since it was no longer used, Mother Nature had come in and reclaimed what was hers. He also said, it was the spookiest place he had ever seen.

We walked on the path for what seemed like hours to me. My grandfather often had to remove briers and bramble before we could continue. My brothers story had not prepared me for what I was about to see.

When we got to the lake, I stood there mesmerized. The trees and underbrush were so thick that the sun was not allowed to shine through. It was as if we stood in twilight in another world.

My brother was right about the water, it was very dark. My grandfather said it was because of the minerals from the Sycamore trees that lined the banks. At the far end of the lake, a white mist rose, like ghosts from the past. Lilly pads lined the shores. While I found it just a little spooky myself, I also found it very beautiful and I wanted to stand and look at it forever.

My grandfather had come there on business, however and set about sitting little jar lids with sweet Anise oil in them, around on tree stumps. He said the oil would attract the bees, they would come and collect it then make a bee line to their tree. We could follow them and find their stash. He would return on another day and rob them. Those were his words, rob them. At any rate we all certainly enjoyed his loot.

I picture that lake in my mind often and wonder if it is still there after almost sixty years or if Mother Nature or, perhaps the human race has completely destroyed it.

A golden memory from childhood

By Lora Cox ©2001