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- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
One of the more unusual reenactments that members of our group ever attended was a railroad event held at an attraction just outside North Little Rock, Arkansas at what was known as the Scott & Bearskin Lake Railway. (The reenactment itself was called Ashley's Mill, presumably for a Civil War-era fixture; since this area had featured somewhat in the 1863 capture of the Arkansas State Capital Little Rock, it wasn't totally out-of-place!) As can be seen from the descriptions in the brochure below, although the two locomotives unfortunately dated from well-past the Civil War, they were nevertheless a big draw for area reenactors. The caption on the reverse of the period postcard above reads,
Cabbage stacked woodburner No. 1 built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, November, 1906, takes water from tank originally constructed for El Dorado and Wesson Railroad, now located at Scott Terminal, 9 miles Southeast of North Little Rock on Highway 130... Scott, Arkansas 72142
Our Texas-based unit, the North Texas Reenactment Society, only fielded enough for a single gun crew at this event; above, left-to-right: myself, our captain and group leader Glen Smith, Mike Hubbard, Glen's son Colin, Clayton Perkins, and Glen Hargis. The photo was taken by Ed Owens who is seen below alongside a played-out Glen Hargis. The gun, a full-scale M.1841 mountain howitzer, was incorrect in having a black-painted iron barrel with a sized-down bore; soon after this its owner Glen Smith returned it to the foundry and had it bored out to correct appearance and painted it gold to better resemble the bronze from which the originals were cast.
Other artillery present were the original guns belonging to Memphis-area SCV Camps; they may have originally been fine fellows, but we found they instead tended to be real jerks who used their clout to avoid having to "galvanize" for battle scenarios because they G-G-Grandpappys would roll in they graves iffen they wuz to put on thet BLUE! - Why, my skin would crisp & burn iffen I wuz to effen tetch it... etc., etc., usually leaving the riff-raff (that's US) to do it instead. Attitudes such as these would eventually lead our unit to become almost exclusively Federal in future events. Of course their full-scale originals were too heavy to be anything but position pieces that had to be towed by pickup to their positions beforehand and remain there during the battle.
Other groups of authentics like our usual associates in the Confederate Guard seen above in their campsite were far more amenable and often "galvanized" themselves for the sake of the hobby and not refuse because of any imagined sense of superiority. I can recognize friends I later served with at memorable events at Gettysburg and Chickamauga including Danny Sessums, George Susat, and Robert Serio. Below, an early-morning look along the track at mist rising in our surroundings in recently-harvested soybean fields.
Scott & Bearskin Lake Railway
Of course the real *stars* of the event were the Scott & Bearskin Lake locomotives - as above, captions from the reverse of these photo postcards are in italics: Rushton stack, woodburner No. 1 built Nov. 1906 heads for home with excursion coaches made from old logging cars trailed by Louisiana & Northwest caboose No. 214 located on Hwy 130, 9 miles Southeast of North Little Rock, P.O. Box 1, Scott, Arkansas 72142
Nineteenth Century "Armstrong Power" turntable with woodburner No. 1 after a day's run... Don't bother trying to locate this place today - within a very few years locomotives, rolling stock, turntable and all were moved to what was hoped to be a better venue far to the north of the state at Eureka Springs.
W. T. Carter & Bro. No 2, Old East Texas logging engine built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, January 1907, hits the mainline leaving Scott with vintage coaches... Following a period of expansion, including the addition of many more locomotives and pieces of rolling stock at the new venue located in a narrow valley at Eureka Springs' original Edwardian Train Station, things seemed to be looking up for the museum and its collection. The highpoint was probably use of both station and at least one of these engines in the 1980's TV miniseries The Blue And The Gray. In one extended segment actor Stacy Keatch rides the train through the beautiful Arkansas countryside while supposedly carrying supplies for Meade's army fighting at Gettysburg when it's attacked by Rebel saboteurs. I even participated in a subsequent weekend reenactment there that was loosely based on that very idea!