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  • Blanchard Springs Caverns Blanchard Springs Caverns Mountain View, Arkansas
    Blanchard Springs Caverns belong to part of a cave system that can be found in the Ozark National Forest in Stone County, Arkansas. This is a three level cave system that has two caves open for guided tours; the Dripstone Trail and the Discovery Trail, with a wild cave tour available for those that are more accustomed to spelunking. The Dripstone goes through an underground fantasy in the top level of the caverns and the Discovery goes through the second level that was opened in 1977. This trail runs through the middle of the cave, with the wild cave tour going into parts that aren't developed and suited to those that are more adventurous. The temperature stays at 58 degrees F and may require a light jacket. The limestone rock that has formed all this was the bottom of an ancient sea that was above it all over 350 million years ago. Blanchard is called a living cave, since it continues to grow and develop, the care of it by the visitors and the National Forest Service. Living caves are those in which the slow metamorphosis of the minerals that were left here by the seepage and dripping water that came down from above from the seasonal rains. The cave had been discovered long before the 1930s, when locals tried to explore the caverns, but the first systematic search started in 1955 and continued for another five years. During that first exploration, these men found a 1000 year old Native American skeleton with a fractured skull, fractured ribs and fractured leg. How it came to be here isn't known, although from the fractures, it would seem that some adversary had done this person some serious damage, and he had escaped further damage or death by crawling into the caverns. The caves were opened for public viewing in 1973, after the owners had had the Dripstone Trail developed. The caverns got their name from the source of water to the cave, the Blanchard Springs. There are many unique and unusual formations found in the caves, one being the Giant column that stands over 65 feet in the Cathedral Room on the Dripstone Trail. It is the stalactites that come down from the ceilings and stalagmites that rise up from the floor, and when they meet, they form huge columns that are full of sparkling colors from the moisture and minerals that are found in the limestone. The Ghost Room, on the Discovery Trail, is a massive crystalline flowstone that is gorgeous as it sits on the floor of the cavern; but this trail is open only in the sumHelicites in Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansasmers, so plan on coming then to see both trails and all their beauty. On the Discovery Trail, you will come across some magnificent rimstone dams, some crusted wall like formations that form by streams and continue to build up, trapping water and whatever has grown in it to become part of the ecosystem. On your journey through the Dripstone Trail, you will come upon small delicate beautiful helicites, that are twisted or curled, spiral speleothems that will certainly mystify you and amaze you at the same time. The state seems to have many underground waters that grind their way through the caves and caverns, hollowing them out like a drill going through wood; forming all kinds of shapes, crevices and meanderings because of various materials that would cause it to reroute itself.

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  • Central High SchoolElizabeth Bickford entering Central High, Little Rock, Arkansas 1957
    The Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas exploded onto the small black and white television screens that were used in this nation in 1957. It was at this school, that the U.S. government, with help from the 101st Airborne, made sure that 9 African-American students could enter the school and not be murdered. It became one of the most important events in the American Civil Rights Movement and continued on into the next decade, before it was changed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. It was called the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957, a few years after the Supreme Court had ruled that integration of public schools was for every school in this nation. There was a showdown that continued to evolve, the first one between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Governor Orval Faubus, and had the world looking and listening to what the results would be. On September 23, 1957, these brave nine young teenagers faced an angry belligerent mob of 1000 southerners that were NOT going to let these African-Americans go to school with their lily white kids. We all know now that color doesn't rub off, like many of them thought. The kids made it into the school, but had to be taken out before the end of the day by the Little Rock police; and the next day, Dwight had the 327th Airborne Battle Group of the 101st escort the kids back into the school and dared anyone to do or say otherwise. This 1200 man unit from Fort Campbell, Kentucky and the 10,000 man Arkansas National Guard was federalized so that the governor wouldn't be able to order them into the fracas. Melba Pattilo Beals, who was one of the nine, recalled in her book that "after three full days inside Central (high school), I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought. It was also to a 10 year old boy sitting in Fort Devens, Massachusetts wondering why?

January 11, 2011