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THE HISTORY OF MARION CO AR|
By: Barbara Craig & Mrs. Robert L. Hall (Obeta Hicks)
RESPECT THE COPYRIGHT: This book is still under copyright of the Marion County Historical Association and may not be used for any purpose other than your own personal research. It may not be reproduced nor placed on any web page nor used by anyone or any entity for any type of "for profit" endeveor.
(Page 390) Rush is a sleepy ghost town nestled between Rush and Clabber Creeks and along the shore of the Buffalo River. It is located in south Marion County about five miles north of the Buffalo River State Park off State Highway 14.
Additional Notes on History of Rush
Old mining reports say the first known prospectors in the Rush area were John Wolfer, Bob Stultzer and J. W. McCabe. They were looking for silver that Indian legends had promised. A small rock smelter was built in which ore could be reduced. The first run of the smelter in 1882 produced a spectacular display of zinc oxide fumes about the stack of the smelter, but the expected silver did not collect in the sand molds at the bottom. The discouraged prospectors offered to trade their prospect, with the smelter thrown in, for a box of canned oysters worth $2.50. The offer (Page 391 Top Photo: View of Rush Postoffice and Morning Star Mine and Mill) was rejected. The old smelter still stands near the road. Zinc mining did begin on a small scale, however, and some of the largest chunks of pure zinc ore ever mined were taken from the Rush area.
Zinc was discovered at the Morning Star Mine in 1884, but because of the rough nature of the country and difficulty of access, nothing was done until 1889 when a group of men from Arkansas and Tennessee formed a company, opened up the ore lodes, and cut a road to connect with the highway to Yellville. Thousands of dollars worth of zinc was taken out of the Morning Star. The mining boom in Rush flourished through the 1890's and, at one time, there were approximately 5,000 people living in Rush, making it the largest town in Marion County at that time. In its heyday, there were two pool halls in New Town, which sprouted up about 1916. There were two or three hotels, a hardware store, a pharmacy, restaurants, several dwellings and other business establishments. There were seven barbers in town, three in front of each of the pool halls. The post office was in Old Town, where the first mine was built. There was a telephone exchange serving 165 phones and a bakery where you could purchase a pie for .15.
The demands for higher quality zinc became urgent during World War I and mining machinery and equipment for immense concentrating plants began the difficult trek to Rush. By then the MOP (Missouri Pacific Railroad) had completed its route up the White River to Cotter and across the mountains to Kansas City. Mining equipment made the trip by rail to Summit, just north of Yellville, but the remainder of the trip had to be made by wagon and team. By the middle of 1914 the big production of ore had begun the return trip from Rush to the smelters. Thousands of workers streamed into the area making Rush the biggest city in Marion County and North Arkansas. Huge oil engines which ran the mills disturbed the mountain serenity for miles around with their noisy operations and the parade of (Page 392 Top) wagons out of the valley was almost continuous. In bad weather three-mule teams were necessary to move a ton of ore from the camp to Summit.
The termination of World War I sealed the fate of Rush. The camp began to fade in 1918 and early in 1919 the price of ore slumped badly. It was hard to sell at any price.
Although the zinc supply remains good in the Rush area, demand has never again soared to the point which makes large scale operation profitable. Hopes for another boom rose in 1958 when a combination organized the Rush Creek Mining Company and built a new mill not far from the banks of the Buffalo. It was hoped that zinc would become a big factor in rocket building, but the mill has not visibly rejuvenated the old mining camp. All that remains of the old days are a few old buildings and foundations. Even the post office has been closed.
The zinc ore of Rush is a carbonate and is among the richest in the world. Unfortunately, it occurs in comparatively small pockets and "glory holes" rather than in continuous veins. In 1893 a huge chunk of zinc ore weighing 12,750 pounds was taken from the Morning Star mine and exhibited at the World's Fair Columbian Exposition in Chicago where it won the first award premium and is now on display at the Field Museum. The great mass ore was hauled from the mine to the Buffalo River on a logging wagon drawn by sixteen oxen. It was floated down the Buffalo River to the White River where it was transferred to a steamboat and taken to Batesville. Here it was removed to a railroad car and transported to Chicago. Zinc ore from the Morning Star Mine also won the first award at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. This ore is now on exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Some of the mines were the Red Cloud and the Lonny Boy across the river. On the river there were the Edith Mill and the Yellow Rose. Further down the Rush Creek nearer the river there were the Climax, the Mary Hatta-Anna, the Matti-May, the Morning Star, the MacIntosh, and the White Eagle. On Clabber Creek there was the Leader Hollow. At Carbonate Point, the mines were Lucky Dutchman, Dixie Girl, The Old Mirror and the Bonanza. Sure Pop, Silver Run and Morrow Hollow were located on Water Creek and at the mouth of Ingram's Creek was Sours Mill. As you can imagine, there were more mines than mills and most of the mines drifted back into the mountain.
Contributed by: Mrs. Robert L. Hall (Obeta Hicks), Oakland, California
I lived in the town of Rush for about 35 years. My father and mother, Lee and Alice Hicks, moved to Rush in 1903. He bought a ten-acre tract of land there on which was situated a hotel which played an important part in the development of the mining industry. At first, my father carried the mail from Rush to Gilbert; later the route was from Rush to Yellville.
One of the earliest stores in Rush was a general store owned and operated by Mr. William Fernaman and his wife, Aunt Lou. Mr. Fernaman sold this store to my father, who operated it many years as a general store carrying practically every thing that could be found in stores anywhere in Northern Arkansas.
(Page 393 Top Photo: Rush School about 1910, Teachers WC Bearden and Maude Gentry [children in the photo are not identified]) As the mining industry developed, the town grew rapidly and stores, hotels, barber shops, pool halls, rooming houses, a theater, and a doctor's office were built. In time, Rush grew to be one of the largest towns in the area with a population of some two or three thousand people. As the people came to work in the mines, a housing shortage developed and many of those who came bought tents and these tent homes were scattered over the hills. Some people spoke of Rush as "Rag Town", a name not liked by the "oldtimers" of Rush.
The ore taken from the mines was hauled in wagons over the rough roads to the railroad station at Summit and loaded on freight cars of the Missouri Pacific Railroad to be carried to the smelter in Joplin, Missouri. Often two or three teams of horses or mules would be needed to pull a load of the ore over the steep hills.
Among the early superintendents of the mines, I remember Mr. J. C. Shepherd who had previously worked in the gold mines in Mexico. He and his wife stayed in our hotel for a time. He named J. Con Medley, Superintendent of the Morning Star, because of Mr. Medley's knowledge of the mine.
I recall many of the families who lived in Rush during the "boom days" and worked in the mines. Among those I recall are the Rowdens, Setzers, Gentrys, Hands, Lowes, James, Miles, Woods, Hughes, and Dirsts.
Miners bought their supplies at our store and most of them bought "on credit", paying every two weeks when they were paid. Farmers on Big Creek, Clear Creek and the Buffalo River also traded at our store "on credit", buying their groceries and whatever they needed to make the crop. They would pay their bills when they sold their crops. Father bought his merchandise on (Page 394 Top) credit usually from the traveling salesmen-"drummers"-who called on him to see what he needed. Occasionally, he would go to Little Rock or Springfield to the markets to select his "wares".
As his business grew, father built a two-story building-the lower floor was the general store and the upper floor was an eleven-room hotel.
Captain Charles LaVasseur, a French engineer, and his wife, as well as his brother-in-law, George Deburgan and his wife, came to Rush and lived in the hotel for a time.
I recall only three serious accidents that occurred at the mines. A large rock fell in a shaft at the Morning Star Mine, crushing two men; Logan Setzer and William Jones. I can recall hearing the whistle blow at the Morning Star, signalling a fatal accident had occurred and recall seeing Aunt Lee Ann Setzer, the mother of Logan, coming up the road on her way to the mine to see what had happened. She was crying and praying as she made her way to the scene.
Another fatal accident occurred at the Morning Star when a man fell from the tramway to the ground several hundred feet below.
We lived in the center of Rush, one mile from Buffalo River and one mile from the one-room school house. One of my first teachers was Mr. Will Bearden, who taught at Rush for several years. He was a good teacher.
I have many pleasant memories of Rush as a beautiful town where people helped each other and shared in their joys and in their sorrows. It grieves me that it is now only a ghost town.
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