Travel back in time with me and let yourself imagine the booming mining town of Rush, Arkansas. In the late 1800's farmers on Rush Creek discovered zinc ore and soon the "rush" to Rush began. By the 1890's the mining town was well established with miners and investors from all over the country. During it's hey day the town swelled to over 5,000 people. Rush was officially recognized as a ghost town in 1972 and is supposedly the only ghost town between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Mr. H and I recently explored Rush. Let me just state, right up front, we didn't see any ghosts!!
As we turned off the main highway down a crooked, tree lined road we began to spot several deer along the sides of the road, in the creek, and laying in the sunshine in the forest. In fact, we saw thirteen deer. It took us a while to get down the road, I kept stopping to take pictures of the deer!
I can't imagine traveling down these roads and up the mountain on horses or mules or in a wagon! I was very grateful for the air-conditioned car!!
The asphalt we traveled on changed to gravel and the first buildings came into view. These three simple board houses were built about 1899. I wish I could have gotten closer and been able to look inside better, but they're all behind fences as they've become quite rickety and dangerous. When I enlarged one of my pictures on my computer I could see old faded wall paper with blue flowers on it.
A little further down the road was the Taylor-Medley store which operated until 1956. Here you could buy all your supplies, mail and receive letters, sit on the large front porch and gossip, or even get married. The store owner was not only the shopkeeper and postmaster but also a justice of the peace. The shopkeeper's home is on the right.
We walked along a trail that led to an old blacksmith shop built in 1925. It supposedly has part of the old forge left, but it was difficult to see in the buildings due to the shadows. In his shop the blacksmith turned iron and steel into functional items for the mill. It's where broken things could be fixed and where horses could be shod. Also, along this trail the mine offices, company store, and doctor's office once stood. None of those buildings have survived.
We continued along the trail which wove steeply up the mountain to the small entrances of several mines. The mines have been blocked off for safety reasons. I can't imagine going into those dark mines with only lanterns!
We then followed the trail down the mountain where the Morning Star Mill was built in 1898. The only parts left of the mill are some rock foundation piers, an old rusty smoke stack and various pieces of metal that have been covered by brush. A gravity tram system moved the ore from the mining level down to the mill for crushing to remove the zinc. I understand gravity sending the ore cars down the mountain to the mill, but getting those cars back up the mountain to the mine would have been difficult! The largest zinc nugget removed from these mines weighed in at over 13,000 pounds and received a blue ribbon at the 1892 Chicago World Fair. How did they ever manage to get that piece of zinc out of the valley and up the mountain to the nearest town that had a railroad to transport it to Chicago??
Wandering on the down the road we saw this beautiful rock wall with two sets of stairs. I climbed up the stairs and could see the remains of a sidewalk lined with rock flower beds. The wall surrounded what originally was the Hicks store, a two-story, rock-walled building built in 1916. Part of the walls and the concrete floor is all that's left. In the 1960's the store was remodeled into a residence. The wall and rock building reflect the prosperity of the period. (The top two pictures are of the wall, the bottom two are of the store.)
These mines boomed with business during WWI when all the mines were open producing zinc for the war effort. Zinc was used in the production of shell casings. The end of the war brought a decline in the demand and price of zinc. The town began to slowly die. The post office of Rush closed in the 1950's and the remaining inhabitants left.
We spend a fun afternoon in Rush. It was a beautiful place nestled in the Ozark Mountains along the Buffalo River and Rush Creek. Most of the time we were the only people there, so it was very quiet. As I walked through this town I was once again made aware of how blessed and spoiled we are. Unless you were the mine owners, these people lived very hard lives and had very little to show for it. I love to read and research about historical buildings and towns, but I certainly wouldn't want to have lived during this time period.