Saturday, July 23, 2011

Natural Bridge, Ozark Attraction, Sold At Auction/ Norway/ Maine

The Natural Bridge of Arkansas, a 100-foot sandstone formation north of Clinton, was sold at auction Friday. (Anita Tucker photo)

By Anita Tucker
Arkansas News Bureau

CLINTON Jack Smith thought about dropping out midway through the bidding for the Natural Bridge of Arkansas, but he stayed put as the landmark was auctioned off today and won what one seller deemed a “bargain.”

At $189,000, Smith, of Conway, was the highest bidder for the 100-foot long sandstone formation and 101 acres located just north of this Van Buren County community. He said he made the purchase on behalf of his son, James Smith of Kingsland, Ga.

It was a bittersweet morning for brothers Harold, Royce and Wayne Johnson, whose family had owned the bridge since 1973.

“It’s a little sad,” Harold Johnson said. “But the time has come.”

The brothers want to retire and travel.

Auctioneer Joe Wilson told a gathering at the site and an audience watching on the Internet that it was the first time he’d ever sold a natural bridge.

“That’s a pretty cool-looking rock,” he said.

The bidding was back and forth between Smith and another potential buyer at the scene.

“I was getting cold feet,” Smith said after the sale.

“Somebody got a bargain,” said Royce Johnson, though older brother Harold said the property actually brought more than he thought it would.

Smith said his son plans to relocate to the area as soon as he can and they will consider expanding the attraction, perhaps adding some hiking trails.

Meanwhile, the Johnsons will continue to run the show for a few more days. A wedding was scheduled to take place there Saturday.

The stone archway of the natural bridge was used as a wagon crossing during pioneer days.

Also on the site are two 100-year-old log cabins, one of which is a museum complete with an old moonshine still, and the other a gift shop.

The attraction is open seven days a week from March through October.

Sipapu Natural Bridge, Utah, seen from below


        After a night of practically no sleep (we are currently at the beautiful, grand Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine, "Maine's first environmentally responsible hotel", which amazingly has no air conditioning, which is a little rough in the current Inferno-wave), I woke up wondering what, if anything, to post, given the horrible news out of Norway.  

        Reading the news stories and then the biography of Anders Behring Breivik, and then viewing his Twitter page (which they just took down a few moments ago) bearing the smug slogan "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests", a pompous, know-it-all/know-nothing variation on John Stuart Mill, and seeing his idiotic, blank Mark David Chapman/John Hinkley/David Berkowitz countenance, made me wonder, uselessly as usual, about who might have spotted this “face in the crowd” and possibly provided some early warning of his madness, rage and mediocrity.

Arches Bridge Monument, New Mexico 

        So, I posted the Arkansas News story above about the natural bridge auction in beautiful Arkansas, a state more people should visit, and the pictures of other natural bridges above and below.  For some reason, it seemed appropriate to do.

        Earlier in the week, Tom Clark posted on Beyond The Pale two exceptional features focusing on the effects of pollution, one concerning China's "green tide" of algae and the other on the hideous effects plastic debris has wreaked on albatrosses in the South Pacific.  

Pont d'Arc natural bridge, near Vallon-Pont d'Arc, Ardeche, France

        By contrast, however, during our visit to Maine (to visit Jane at camp and explore other parts of the state), we have been treated to glorious views of Maine’s waterways and the Atlantic Ocean, both from the shoreline and out on the water.  Yesterday, we journeyed a couple of hours out from Kennebunkport on a whale watching tour.   

Rainbow Cave Bridge, Israel

        We saw whales (finbacks and minkes, the first I’ve ever seen up close), bluefin tuna, mako sharks and puffins.   We also saw beautiful, peaceful albatrosses and vast numbers of dolphins who put on the best water show we had ever seen, enthusiastically body-surfing in the prodigious wake of our vessel.  It was amazing and very moving to see them simply living their lives, far from the madness of current domestic and international news, and accepting us into their environment in stark contrast to the way we treat "intruders" of all sorts into ours.




  1. Here's to Natural Bridges.

    In fact, here's to any sort of bridge over our troubled waters...

  2. Yes indeed. Now that we're back from Maine and watching the news again, my enervation level is breaking records. It's funny -- because Norway rarely makes the news, we tend to think of them as parochial and irrelevant. Our journalists have done such a poor job covering the horrifying events there that it makes us seem parochial and irrelevant. One thing I've definitely come to believe is that youth movements/groups associated with political parties -- any political party -- are bad ideas. It was wonderful in Maine learning from our boat captain that shiny looking water indicates the active presence of much marine life. I never knew that. The ocean about 20 miles off of Kennebunkport was spectacularly beautiful. The local beers in Maine were quite good. Here's to Natural Bridges. Curtis