Indian Mound Meets Iron Horse
The dawn of the year 1872 found the Cairo and Fulton Railroad rails laid from Birds Point west to Poplar Bluff and south to Moark, the first high ground South of the Arkansas-Missouri state line which had been designated as the Division Point. The roundhouse and terminal facilities had been completed and H. D. Corning and his construction crew were poised to push the rails across the lowlands of Arkansas to Fulton on Red River. The line had been surveyed the previous year and a tiny settlement of 150 people, Hecht City, had appeared on the right of way six miles South of the division point. The original site of the village had been a mile East on Black River around the Hecht Brothers (Levi and Morris) Sawmill.
After Corning's crew left Moark, the survey veered sharply to the Southwest for six miles of easy construction with little grading and the rails were laid rapidly. As they neared the settlement, a landmark on the right was a high knoll shaded by walnut trees with marble grave markers beneath… the burying ground of Hecht City. Within the settlement the only buildings, save a scattering of log cabins and two-room slab shanties were Kilgore's Saloon, the Akers House and The Hecht Brothers Commissary, all two-story structures on the West of the right of way and just South of them on the edge of the village was another more ancient landmark, an Indian Mound that the first dwellers in the Mississippi Valley had built on a backout from Black River, which in their time flowed just East of the new railroad. The New Madrid earthquake of 1811-12 had blocked the channel, making a chain of lakes, forcing the stream into a new channel a mile East.
The backout of the old river was easily traced to the West and became so deep that when the town of Corning was platted, the surveyors had to make a long block with 20 instead of 12 lots, to make Vine Street passable from the right of way to 4th Street. A blessing to Corning since it made Hop Alley a necessity half a century later. Pioneer settlers of Corning searched the mound for arrowheads and Indian artifacts that surfaced after the Winter rains and talked now and then of excavating to find what the Mound contained, but J. E. Long and his family arrived and built a house atop the Mound before any digging had been done. The one-story frame was unpainted and as it weathered in the elements and careened a bit from the winds, it took on a sinister appearance … and quickly became known as the Haunted Mound House! The Great Spirit resented the Iron Horse disturbing the slumbers of his Indian children!
Mr. Long then built Long's Meat Market just across the street, corner of First and Pine, and the Mound house was the family home until the 90's when affluence let Mr. Long build a Gingerbread Mansion in Southwest Corning adjoining the Long farmland.
Rented only when some one brave enough to face the ghosts came to Corning, the Mound House endured the passage of time until the 20th Century when George A. Booser arrived in town to operate the stave mill just across the Iron Mountain tracks. The Mound was an ideal site for a home, so the ancient landmark was razed. Five Indian skeletons were untombed and numerous artifacts what were to make existence more pleasurable in the Happy Hunting Grounds. The Booser and Johnson homes were built and today are occupied by the families of Kenneth Harmon and Mrs. Glenna Adams.
The Mound House was moved to 707 West Fourth Street, dehaunted and the photograph today shows it largely as it was in the 80's. Corning had no one interested in archaeology, so the skeletons and their possessions were lost. Today they would make priceless heirlooms to display during the Corning Centennial, but there is no more need to weep over lost skeletons than there is to cry over spilled milk! That's just the way the cookie crumbled.