Favorite

Little Missouri swimming area closed, local business suffers 

U.S. Forest Service provides no explanation.

click to enlarge arkansas_reporter1-1.jpg

In the middle of the night on June 11, 2010, the Little Missouri River surged over its banks and swallowed the sleeping campers at Camp Albert Pike Recreation Area in Montgomery County. The water rose over 15 feet in less than an hour, the current snatching husbands away from wives, and children away from mothers and fathers. Twenty people died in the tragedy, eight of them under the age of 10.

While nobody likes to talk about dollars and cents in the face of such a horror, residents and business owners near the Recreation Area say they have to speak up about the U.S. Forest Service's decision to barricade a popular swimming area there — closed without explanation on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend this year and closed since then. One business owner says the closure of the swimming area has hurt what remaining business he has left. Almost as frustrating, he says, is that the government isn't answering questions as to why.

The swimming area, situated in a bend of the Little Missouri and described in the writings of Albert Pike, features slate and granite rocks, a beach, and deep, clear water. The beauty of the spot has made it popular with tourists from South Arkansas, North Louisiana and Southeast Texas. It lies about a mile from Loop D, where the majority of the deaths occurred in the 2010 flood. Albert Pike Recreation Area has been closed to overnight use since the flood, with officials debating whether it will ever open again to campers.

Mike Graves is the publisher of the Glenwood Herald, The Nashville News, and the Montgomery County News. Even the reporters at his papers can't get through to the U.S. Forest Service for an explanation. The Arkansas Times' repeated attempts at contacting someone with the Forest Service to discuss the closure of the swimming area went unreturned as well.

"I was going to jump in [the swimming hole] and our editor was going to take a picture of them leading me off in cuffs to demonstrate to the public how silly it is that swimming area is closed," Graves said. "Nobody can tell you why. It's just that the federal government closed it. Nobody can give me a straight answer — not Congressman [Mike] Ross, not anybody."

Graves said the swimming area is often full during summer weekends, and contributes a lot to the local economy. He said it makes no sense for the government to close it. "There's no reason for this place to be closed down," Graves said. "I'm sorry those people drowned, I really am. But there's no reason for this. If they're going to shut this down, let's shut down Lake Greeson and Lake DeGray."

Jesse Lowery is the owner of Lowery's Camp Albert Pike Store and Cabins, a 60-year-old business near the swimming area. Lowery's once had an RV park, but that was destroyed by the flood. Since then, Lowery has been relying on the rental of the camp's string of cabins. He said the swimming area being within walking distance to the cabins was a big part of the reason they were built there in the first place, beginning in 1960.

"Back in the old days, before the flood, it was just a sea of people and kids on bicycles and people carrying floaties down there to that swimming hole," Lowery said. "It was packed. It was unbelievable on Memorial Day weekend last year."

Lowery said that between the economy and the flood, business wasn't good even before the government showed up with the barricades and "No Swimming" signs. Since then, he said, he's had four cancellations, and has been "chewed out" by guests a number of times when they learned the swimming area was closed — though he insists he informs everyone of that fact when they make a reservation.

Lowery has tried to get in touch with someone at the U.S. Forest Service, and has scheduled a meeting with Norman Wagoner, supervisor of the Ouachita National Forest, on July 6. But with the Fourth of July weekend between now and then and still no answers to give prospective guests as to when or if the swimming area might be open again, Lowery is understandably nervous about the future. He said he's got some of his cabins booked for a family reunion soon after the Fourth, but really nothing after that.

"I feel like I'm bashing the govern-ment," he said. "My great-great-grandpa, my great-grandpa, my grandpa and my daddy were all born up here at Albert Pike. It's not like I don't know a lot about the government. It's just that nobody has given me a proper explanation of that swimming hole being closed. It's like: When is that going to stop?"

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Camp Albert Pike Recreation Area, Mike Graves

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Gov. Hutchinson on last night's execution: went according to protocol, no need for an independent investigation

    At a press conference this morning at the State Capitol, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that there would be no need for an independent review of last night's execution of death row inmate Kenneth Williams or even a written report, calling such an investigation "totally unjustified" even though witnesses said that as the deadly drugs were administered, Williams convulsed for ten seconds and coughed and made other noises loud enough to be heard through the plate glass separating the execution chamber and the witness room.
    • Apr 28, 2017
  • Griffen asks probe of Ark. Supreme Court and AG's office conduct

    At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.
    • Apr 26, 2017
  • San Francisco judge blocks executive order defunding "sanctuary cities"

    A U.S. District Court Judge in San Francisco has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks major parts of a presidential executive order that would cut federal grants to cities that refuse to assist federal immigration officials in apprehending undocumented immigrants.
    • Apr 25, 2017
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Eye for an eye

    • It seem evident that the death penalty is not a deterrent to any specified abborant…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Country Club of Little Rock: Still for Whites only

    • But plenty of other groups have their own clubs. Seems you are anti-White if you…

    • on April 26, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation