Catherine Koehler | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

Catherine Koehler 
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Recent Comments

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

This is becoming quite comical. I did indeed offer explanations for the points that Shelby "slung" based on information that she/he received from second hand sources who, incidentally, no longer worked at the Fortress. Gee, I wonder why they no longer work there? Perhaps they have their own agenda? I have said time and time again that all she/he had to do was to make up her/his OWN mind by actually coming to the Fortress and seeing it first hand. She/he could ask any question she/he wanted to and would receive an honest answer from each of us. I have been to Lacey's Castle and have even given directions to it. I did NOT under any circumstances attack the integrity of that project nor have I slung mud on it. This is not the case with Shelby who attacked the integrity of the project in the very first post having NEVER SEEN IT. By the way, it is obvious that Shelby is an acquaintance of yours (kllind) because you refer to her/him as a "he". Up until now I have always assumed that Shelby was a female because I have never known any males with that name and yet I know perhaps a hundred females with that name. I'm certain that more of her/his friends will all be jumping in now to defend her/him but I'm not will only become more comical and more apparent where the truth lies. This is absolutely my last post on this subject because it is quite obvious that the ones who have actually visited OMF were pleased with their visit and the ones who didn't visit, i.e. Shelby, remain clueless preferring to think maliciously based on hearsay. I know what the Fortress was and I know the tremendous amount of work we all put into it in order to keep it as authentic as it could possibly be despite the OSHA requirements. My conscience is completely at ease.

8 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 07/21/2012 at 9:13 PM

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

As I said, you simply don't get it so to continue this debate is like teaching a pig to sing. You never visited the castle, never spoke to the workers who believed enough in the project to work day in and day out in 110 degree heat, nor did you talk to the medievalists who came to share the experience and left completely happy and in awe. My energy was directed exactly where it should have a doubting Thomas who allows others to think for them, and to someone who would prefer to condemn and verbally assault a project rather than experience it for yourself.

8 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 07/19/2012 at 9:28 PM

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

Shelby, it is obvious that you have a very strong allegiance to your project just as I do to mine but how sad that you simply don't seem to "get it". I acknowledged earlier that your project is a wonderful memorial to the death of a child. I have been there and seen it. It is as far from historically accurate as possible and still be called a "castle" but then that was it's was built to be a fairy tale. Ours is not. Your comments make it quite evident that you are passing along second hand information about OMF because you would know the true answers if you had been there and talked to our artisans. We do use our own sand. The sand from the NEARBY White River was what was used in the initial phase of building in order to establish the site for it's opening. The waddling that was used in the structures came from Bear Creek which runs through the site (it is NOT bamboo as some people want to THINK it is). Oh...and that stone you mentioned that was shipped in?? I tried to get a picture of the 18 wheeler being unloaded with those stones in order to write a blog entry about it but sadly the boys worked too fast for me to get the shot. It was a humorous sight to see medievally dressed men unloading a semi of 4" x 5" limestone bricks. You see, the limestone that our masons and stonecutters were shaping, the Arkansas limestone, is much harder than any other limestone. Harder than the stone found in Europe and harder than the limestone found in most of the US. Therefore, it would be impossible for children to successfully learn how to use a medieval hammer and chisel on stones that professional adult sculptors (my husband) and master masons had difficulty with. At least two shipments of a softer limestone were delivered to the castle to be carved by students as a teaching activity. Once again...all you had to do was ask before you chose to condemn us based on second hand information. Our goal is authentic medieval study and education. I stand firm that we never strayed from that goal despite the nay-sayers who want to pass judgement without truly knowing what they are talking about. Ignorance is a terrible attribute, but ignorance combined with gossip makes spotting that ignorance much easier.

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 07/18/2012 at 10:48 PM

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

(CONTINUED FROM EARLIER COMMENT) Our plan was to use the lime dust generated from our quarry to supplement the soil. 4) As I mentioned earlier, a team of medieval experts were involved in our project, including European and American architects. We have never hidden the fact that we are bound by OSHA standards and have had to make some allowances to appease those regulations. A few of those allowances are that our construction workers wear steel toed boots and safety glasses, we were required to use bolts on the scaffolding despite the fact that the medieval scaffold was STRONGER than the current standards, and all stone construction is required to have a concrete block footer. If we could have, we would have built on the equally strong, if not more so, solid rock base that the concrete blocks are on. That was an OSHA requirement and not an attempt to fool anyone. 5) More rain in Arkansas than in Europe??? Think of London. Think of the Black Forest. Think of Arkansas’ month long burn bans. I rest my case. 6) Your argument about rebar, though, is by far the most comical. It is NOT needed to maintain a castle wall. Castles have been standing for thousands of years WITHOUT rebar!! Our castle is sitting on a solid bedrock base and has walls 4, 5 and 6 feet thick depending on the end height of the wall. Taller walls have wider bases. Each wall is filled like a puzzle with scrap rock and mortar making them the strongest construction in the world. Rebar is a cost saving measure for folks too lazy, too cheap, or in too much of a hurry to do it the safest way. Luckily for us at OMF, OSHA recognized a good thing when they saw it. I assure you, if it was needed OSHA would have required it. My work as a medievalist and worker at the Ozark Medieval Fortress was truly a dream come true. I hope to return to the hardest yet most rewarding job I have ever had if it can be reincarnated as a living history museum in the future. She is a masterpiece that all of the workers were devastated to lose, and we are continuing to hope for her completion. If ANYONE has any questions, concerns, urban legends about OMF, or leads on potential sponsors, please feel free to contact me personally and I will answer and and all questions to the best of my ability. I can be reached via my webpage at or by direct e-mail to

17 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 07/15/2012 at 2:37 PM

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

Shelby, you are completely misinformed, and not in a position to cast stones. First of all Lacy's castle is a beautiful tribute to a lost child but does not even remotely resemble an authentic European castle nor does it have a team of experts who have to authenticate it. You failed to mention that Lacy's Castle is available to use for a fee, asks for donations, and also rents rooms much like a motel for overnight stays offering the opportunity to "spend the night in a castle". With your proximity to "our" castle, I find it humorous that OMF qualifies as a tourist trap and yet you mistakenly claim Lacy's Castle does not. At the Ozark Medieva Fortress (OMF), the admission fees did not cover the cost of construction and numerous investors contributed additional funds in an effort to see her mission continue. These investors simply could not continue to fund the enormous cost of trying to build a castle on another continent and as a group decided to offer it for sale. Hopefully we will be able to continue this incredible mission with a new owner/sponsor. I certainly hope and pray that we do because it is an incredibly valuable resource for true medievalists and for all who don't have the opportunity to witness the majesty of the castles of Europe. To respond to your diatribe of all of the "fake" things about OMF, you obviously never took the tour or visited our site or you would have better information. We do not attempt to hide anything from the public and will gladly answer any questions we are asked. Since you need some answers, here they are: 1) We import the lime from France because it is remarkably much less expensive for us to do so. Government regulations in the US made buying lime in the US a costly expense that we were attempting to keep under control. 2) Sand, water and lime create the mortar which is the authentic recipe for medieval castles. In the medieval era, trade routes were common as was the ability to ship supplies to areas lacking them so the sand coming from the White River is a very authentic practice. Legally we could not send our horse and cart on the roadways or across vastly inhabited and personally owned lands so forgive us if we were forced to us a truck. All you had to do was ask. 3) Lime is a byproduct of limestone and is an essential element in a rich soil. With the abundance of limestone in the Ozarks, I hate to mention that lime is already being deposited into the waterways naturally. Just to add insult to your error, we were investigating the addition of a vineyard and soil tests showed we were needing to ADD lime to the area

13 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 07/15/2012 at 2:36 PM

Re: “Ozark Medieval Fortress closed this year

I was the "goodwife" at the castle and it was the job that I hoped to be the last one I ever had. It was an INCREDIBLE experience! Like those earlier commentors, we heard all the time that people were not expecting the quality experience that they had when they went to "watch someone work". This was and hopefully will continue to be an experience that has never been offered in the US before. People have Williamsburg, Sturbridge Yankee Village and even Old Town Washington which are similar in concept but all are teaching American history. This was an opportunity for hands on access to WORLD HISTORY and it will always be the job I wanted to have for the rest of my life. As such, I am looking into many alternate funding sources for it and we are trying to re-organize and re-open. The castle deserves to be built!

41 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Catherine Koehler on 01/23/2012 at 11:24 AM
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