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Bland, once a community, disappeared over the years, leaving behind only a dusty trail and a mystery
Written by: Tracy Crain
October 29, 2000

Reading a map wrong, missing a turn or getting lost are common mishaps while traveling. For the most part, those kind of things are expected, every once in a while.
 
What is not expected is the absence of a town when the map says it is supposed to be there.
 
Bland, Ark., located in Saline County, off of Arkansas 298 and Steelbridge Road, is the perfect example.
 
A quick conversation with Cindy Pride, a friendly employee at the Crow’s Station and Grocery Store, located on the outskirts of Bland, helped unravel the mystery.
 
“Bland did exist at one time. It had a school and a church, but it’s not a community anymore,” she said. “It disappeared over the years. Bland Trail, which cut through the town and came through Arkansas 9, was connected with the town, too. Today, it’s just an old dirt road.”
 
If one travels down that road far enough, they would find the remnants of the Old Union Church, believed to have served Bland residents.
 
Considering how many rural communities there are in Arkansas, finding a town without a sign is fairly common. What’s not so common is hearing local residents explain that a town used to be here, but then disappeared. Better yet, hearing local residents claim they never even heard of it.
 
Mark Gillis, executive director for the Benton Chamber of Commerce, has no record of Bland. “I grew up around the Saline area and I have no clue. It’s a new one to me,” he said. “Most residents who live nearby….are aware of a Bland Trail. There are very few who can remember a town by that name.”
 
Charles Hinkson, a long time resident, is one of the few, beside Pride, that has heard of the community. “I moved here in 1957. It wasn’t Bland at that time. I always thought this was called the Congo area,” he said. “I know that there was a church and cemetery here.”
 
When asked if he knew anything about Bland, Jim Cain, another area resident, said jokingly, “I guess they should have put some more spices in it. Seriously though, I do know some people named Bland, but that’s about it. I don’t believe they had any affiliation with the town.”
 
Cain says what happened to Bland is probably what happened to another nearby town that disappeared, too. It was called Cedar Glades. “Bland might have been just a little clump of houses and then everyone moved,” he said.
 
It’s tough to see why anyone would want to leave this rustic, rural haven hidden among the woods.
 
Bland is perhaps one of the most attractive areas on the map that no longer exists.
 
(This article has been recently revised for historical archiving and is an excerpt from Road Trips; a weekly feature of small towns in Arkansas, which was written by Tracy Crain and published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in 2000.)