Friday, January 22, 2016

Beautiful Discovery

I'm sitting comfortably in my warm house looking out the window at our first measurable snowfall. Yesterday we had sleet and freezing rain and today we have snow. It's a little too early to be out, still too dark for pictures. Since I'm stuck inside waiting for daylight, I'll tell you about the fun time I had with my sister last week when it was in the sixties!!

We discovered part of Hot Springs National Park that we didn't know existed. I saw a Facebook post with pictures of an old mill and pond along Stone Bridge Road. My sister and I were both born and spent part of our childhood in Hot Springs. We go back several times a year and we pass this road almost every time. We had no idea that there was such a beautiful area so close by.

Have you ever gotten to a new place and your heart beats a little faster as you realize the beauty of what you've discovered? That's what happened when we rounded the corner and saw Rick's Pond. On one end was the stone bridge, hence the name of the road, and on the other end was a stone dam.

If you look closely at the picture below in the right lower corner you'll see a pipe sticking out of the stones. Keep that in mind. I'll get back to it later. 

As we were walking toward the other end of the creek, that's formed from the overflow of the pond, we spotted this very unusual house up on a hill. It looked old and looked to be a log cabin. Through the trees we could see an open cupola on the roof right behind a very tall chimney.

When I was searching for information on the mill, I discovered that this beautiful home was built in 1909 by Col. Samuel W. Fordyce, an early pioneer who came to Hot Springs in 1873 for the therapeutic hot waters. He called it his cabin. Pretty nice cabin if you ask me! The house has a little more history. In 1937 Earl T. Ricks purchased the property and after W.W.II he returned home to become mayor of Hot Springs, then Adjutant General and Chief of the U.S. Air National Guard. The home and grounds are now used for events such as weddings.

The Cabin
(picture courtesy of Old Houses )

Further down the creek we saw the old mill. It didn't have the look of a gristmill. There was a pipe that went up the side of the building where water would move the mill. The inside workings didn't look right either. We didn't have a clue, so it was time for more research. The stone mill house is the remains of an old hydroelectric system; a water-powered generator designed and built by Colonel John R. Fordyce (Col. Sam Fordyce's son) in 1921. Remember the pipe I mentioned coming ouf of the stone dam? Water was channeled from the lake through the pipe to the mill. The water turned the wheel creating free electricity to those who lived in the mansion/cabin.

Part of the workings were still inside the building.

Note the wooden spokes of the wheel. 

In order to get to the mill we had to cross a stone walkway over the creek. It's not very wide and you know as one ages your sense of balance gets a little off. I was a a wee bit nervous about it, but my curiosity won out. We both did fine, no falls in the water!!

It was a gorgeous day to be out wandering around, unlike today which is cold. Will the cold stop me from going out? No, I'll be out there shortly to take pictures of the snow. So, goodbye for now, I must get bundled up. The snow is calling my name!


  1. What a wonderful day you two had! I enjoyed "going along" with you, and learning more through your later research, too. You always find such interesting places and information! I think you saved the best for last -- that lovely little stone bridge is really special.

  2. What a lovely outing you and your sister had! So nice to discover a new area so close to the place where you were both born too! Such expressive pictures to describe your outing. Have fun in the snow! Ours is melting. Darn!

  3. Really stunning environment, and great photos too!

  4. Really beautiful! I miss doing stuff with my sister biweekly or monthly, as she now lives halfway across the country..This post makes me reminisce about those earlier times :-)

  5. You live in a beautiful area of the U.S, Cathy! I've never been in the southern states except to New Orleans and the Florida and NC beaches!

  6. What a wonderful discovery! And I'm amazed that the owner of the cottage/mansion was clever enough to create electricity for his home.

  7. What a fascinating place! I'm so glad you found it and I'm so glad you're finally getting your snow. We're at about 8" and counting.

  8. You made quite the find! I like the photos of the old mill both inside and out. That "cabin" looks pretty grand! The whole area looks like a wonderful place to hike (even better since your sister was with you).

  9. Cathy, I am sitting here with lots of snow and ice outside as well and it looks like we are in for more. You and your sister find the neatest places to photograph and we get to share by enjoying your captures. Stay warm and I'll look forward to seeing your snow pictures...

  10. Such a great find you and your sister came found, those little ice drops are really cool.

  11. Gorgeous place. So glad that you found it and shared it with us. I love that house, perfect place for weddings.

  12. the most spectacular waterfall i have ever seen, in such a peaceful setting!!! such a fascinating find!!!


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