Lazy Day Destinations – Mill Creek to “Bubbling Springs”
James R. Aist
Growing up in rural Arkansas left me with many fond memories of favorite places, especially when it was summer vacation and I could just pick up and go by myself, or with a friend or two, on a hot, lazy summer afternoon.
When I was around 12 years old and my family lived in Evening Shade (the real one, population 315, not the fictional one on the TV sit-com), one of my favorite places was “Joe Rock.” Just across Highway 11 from Evening Shade, and about a ten minute walk down a winding farm road, was Piney Creek, which ran clear in the summer until the dog days of August set in. If you made a right turn when you reached Piney Creek and followed along the creek bank for maybe 150 yards or so, you came to Joe Rock. Now Joe Rock was usually the target destination whenever we followed that path to Piney Creek, because it was a nice, private swimming hole (click HERE). But there were a couple of other favorite places to visit farther down the creek.
If you went down Piney Creek past Joe Rock for another 150 yards or so, then you came to the place where Mill Creek flowed into Piney Creek from the right. Now, Mill Creek was a really, really cold creek, which in the heat of summer felt great, if you darted into its path and then, just as quickly, darted back into the warm waters of Piney Creek. For the longest time we wondered why Mill Creek was so cold; nobody seemed to know. That is, until one day we decided to explore Mill Creek upstream to see if we could find where it came from. To do that, it was necessary to walk along beside the creek, because, after about 30 seconds in that cold water, one’s bare feet began to feel numb! Well, we must have walked a mile or two when we came upon an unexpected, but familiar, sight that explained why the waters of Mill Creek were so cold: A natural wonder that I call “Bubbling Springs” (presently “Evening Shade Town Spring”, now with a spring house – see photo at upper right).
We were already familiar with “Bubbling Springs”, having visited there several times by bicycle or automobile; it was off of Highway 11, just a little south of Evening Shade. But this was the first time that we had connected “Bubbling Springs” with Mill Creek. Now, “Bubbling Springs” was a minor tourist attraction in the immediate area and a favorite place to fill water jugs with naturally chilled drinking water. It was also a fascinating place to play and collect pretty, polished stones. You see, this was no ordinary artesian spring. No, this spring emerged from the ground, over a large area, as dozens of bubbling, crystal-clear springs that shot up 4-8 inches above the water level, pushing up beautiful, highly polished stones along with the water. The stones were kept in a continuous cycle of bubbling up and then falling back into the springs, and then bubbling up again, etc. The sound of all of those stones crashing into one another as they rose and fell in the springs was impressive, to put it mildly. This was nature’s “stone polisher” on steroids! The “floor” of the entire spring area was covered with these very colorful polished stones, and I still have a few of them from my personal collection.
“Bubbling Springs” was always a fascinating place to visit, especially on a hot summer afternoon, when we could enjoy wading around in the chilly, churning “spring field” until our feet were numb. And from that time on, every time we walked down Piney Creek to Mill Creek, we were reminded of “Bubbling Springs”, the amazing — but no longer mysterious — source of its frigid waters.
(For more TRUE TALES, click HERE)
Caption – The photo to the right shows a spring house built by the town of Evening Shade to house some of the “bubbling springs” and provide safe drinking water for the residents. The water runs out of a grating at the bottom of a set of cement steps. Of course, this developed facility was not there when I was. At that time, there was only a level, mowed field bordering the field of springs, which is located to the left of this photograph.