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Travel Treasures departments

May/June 2014 Issue

Old Mill in North Little Rock is ready for its close-up

It has been 75 years since Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara precisely what he thought of her question of “Where shall I go?” in Gone With the Wind’s final climactic moment before he stormed off into the foggy night.

One good answer for her question today, however, is North Little Rock, Ark., to see what is believed to be the only remaining structure from the film. Featured during the opening credits, the Old Mill is a replica of a water-powered gristmill nestled in picturesque T.R. Pugh Memorial Park.

The mill itself, however, isn’t that old. It predated the 1939 movie by only a few years. The brainchild of Justin Matthews–a road and bridge builder and real estate developer–the mill was designed to appear neglected and weather-worn as if had been there since the 1800s. Built largely from tinted concrete, the mill does have some actual relics, including the gristmill itself, which dates to 1828.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the mill is surrounded by sculptures of toadstools, tree stumps, and several ornate bridges and benches, also constructed of concrete. Dionico Rodriguez, a sculptor from Mexico City, made the concrete look like wood, iron, and stone.

While at the mill, visitors can relax, explore, picnic, and stroll the beautiful grounds, which are maintained and landscaped by the Pulaski County Master Gardeners and North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department. Don’t forget to bring a camera. Located at 3800 Lakeshore Drive, the mill is open from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free. Guided tours, also free, are available for groups of 10 or more by appointment.

For more information, call (501) 758-1424 or click on

Old Mill
The Old Mill, which was built to look old, is one of the most-photographed sites in Arkansas. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo


Scenic byway celebrates Louisiana’s thick and thin

The resiliency of Louisianans is celebrated in a fascinating trail that takes travelers on a 130-mile journey through history’s good times and bad times in the aptly named Boom or Bust Byway.

The beautiful byway travels along Louisiana Highway 2, the east-west route in northern Louisiana, linking four parishes–Caddo, Bossier, Webster, and Claiborne. Along the way, travelers will learn about the region’s agricultural past and the days of oil and gas “boomtowns” as they visit historical towns like Oil City, Mooringsport, Belcher, Shongaloo, and Lisbon.

The route is sprinkled with historical sites, parks, museums, and interpretive kiosks that interact with travelers. Visitors will quickly understand why it’s called the Boom or Bust Byway: the route is littered with graveyards of old oil field equipment that died when the oil industry went bust. Yet travelers also will see new oil and gas facilities being built. Small towns that have seen more prosperous days stand in stark contrast with those on the economic upswing.

In addition to farms and oil fields, visitors will drive past placid bayous, peaceful plantations, and shady forests. Depending on the season, the highway might be lined with golden coreopsis, crimson clover, or cheerful sunflowers. Gilliam celebrates the flowers each June with its Sunflower Trail and Festival, featuring crafts, entertainment, and food. The festival is June 21 this year.

A self-guided touring app for the byway can be downloaded on a smart phone, or travelers can check out a handheld GPS device to experience a video tour along the way. For details about the app or the GPS device, available from five north Louisiana visitor centers, visit the Web site below.

For details, including maps, call (800) 551-8682 or click on

During the spring, some of the byway is decorated with sunflowers, which also are celebrated at the Sunflower Trail and Festival in Gilliam. Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau photos


Mississippi Trail of Honor salutes all U.S. veterans

Once just a pit stop to welcome Run for the Wall motorcyclists riding cross-country to salute veterans, today the annual Trail of Honor in Jackson, Miss., is a literal walking trail with accurate demonstrations of military life spanning 250 years.

The Trail of Honor marks all major military events in American history starting with the French and Indian War to the current operations in Afghanistan. The event, held May 17–18 this year, provides insight into what our military men and women endured–and endure–while serving.

The trail, which is located behind the Harley Davidson of Jackson at 3509 Interstate 55 South, gives attendees the chance to meet veterans eager to share their stories. Also along the trail, which is free, more than 300 living historians re-enact events of each war, clad in the uniforms depicting that era. Military equipment also will be displayed.

The Run for the Wall motorcycle ride arrives in Jackson on May 19 with about 700 riders who are traveling across the nation to Washington, D.C., for Memorial Day activities. Once they reach Vicksburg, Miss., they are escorted to Jackson by military helicopters and are greeted by cannon and mortar salutes along the way.

Riders typically arrive in Jackson at 11 a.m. and depart at about 2 p.m. on the way to Meridian, Miss.

For details, including shuttle stop info, call (601) 372-5770 or visit



Hollywood’s bright lights reach to central Arkansas

An engaging exhibit at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock is aiming the spotlight at Arkansas to show how the road to Hollywood runs directly through the Natural State.

Arkansas’s rich and varied history in film is the subject of “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!,” an exhibit that examines the state’s ties to Hollywood in movies and television. Highlighting films with Arkansas connections, the exhibit includes more than 800 artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection and objects loaned by other museums, film companies, actors, and writers.

On view through February 2015, the exhibit includes five galleries of costumes, scripts, film footage, artwork, photos, theater posters, and props. In addition, documentary videos will help visitors appreciate the state’s role in American film.

Located at 300 W. Markham, the museum is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

Call (501) 324-9685 for more details, or click on

A curator preparing an exhibit about the Creature from the Black Lagoon, which starred Julie Adams, who spent her formative years in Arkansas. Old State House Museum photo


Louisiana festival pays tribute to tomatoes

Summer in New Orleans doesn’t officially begin until the arrival of the first Creole tomato, and then only after a two-day celebration with music, parades, and beaucoup food dishes featuring that delicious sign of the season.

The French Market Creole Tomato Festival, this year June 7 and 8, is a celebration of more than just a tomato, but of Louisiana’s people, culture, and cuisine. Originally imported from the West Indies, the Creole tomato thrives in south Louisiana and has become an integral ingredient in local dishes that have made New Orleans famous.

For more than 25 years, the free festival has drawn visitors to the French Market in the lower French Quarter. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, the festival features cooking demonstrations, tomato-eating contests, tomato sample stations, live music, and fresh Creole tomatoes for sale.

Also, 20 food booths will offer succulent tomato dishes of all kinds, from crabmeat-stuffed tomatoes to thin fried catfish topped with sautéed shrimp and Creole tomato sauce.

Children’s activities will occur in an area known as Dutch Alley, a corridor that includes New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, which is indoors and air-conditioned. There will be crafts, mini golf, dance lessons, and more.

For details, call (504) 522-2621 or visit

Visitors can enjoy tomato dishes at the festival and purchase tomatoes to take home. French Market photo

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