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Trio Traveling Trail of Tears to Trek Through the Twin Lakes
March 2002

In 1838, about 1,200 Cherokee Indians traveled through the Twin Lakes Area on the Benge Route of the Trail of Tears, according to Mountain Home historian Bill Woodiel. Next week, he and two other Arkansans will be traveling the same trail through Baxter County in order to raise awareness of the Indians' forced relocation and to collect photographs for an art exhibit that will be seen in museums throughout the state.

Woodiel, Huntsville artist Pat Musick and her husband, Gerald P. Carr, a former astronaut, began the trek March 4th in Randolph County. They are now on the Batesville portion of the trail and will follow Old Military Road into Baxter County, entering at Pineville.

Borrowing an idea from environmental sculptor Andy Goldworthy, who took a sculpture along a sheep-drover trail in Scotland, Musick decided to take one of her sculptures along the Trail of Tears.

The sculpture, "Yokes on the Trail of Tears," is made of five parts, graduated in heights up to 5 1/2 feet. It is made of steel, stone and wood. Along the way,  the group plans to make more than 20 stops, assembling and disassembling the monument.

Carr, a retired Marine Corps colonel, was commander of Skylab 4 launched in 1973. He will photograph the trip using the same type of camera, a Hasselblad, that he used during his trips into space.

He and Musick plan to use 20 large-scale photographs, 40 smaller photos, the sculpture and text panels in the exhibit. Several museums have expressed interest, including a museum at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the Old Statehouse in Little Rock and the museum at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

The exhibit is to open May 28 and run through July 16 at the University of Arkansas Museum, the originator and sponsor of the exhibit.

Woodiel has been working to have the Benge Route made a part of the National Parks Trail Systems.

Woodiel said the Cherokee group that traveled under the leadership of John Benge entered Baxter County at the Herron Whitfield farm at Pineville. Woodiel believes they crossed the North Fork of the White River at a spot near the Norfork Dam.

From there, the route goes up Highway 5 through Briarcliff to where Austin's One-Stop is now and continues on Old Military Road, coming out where Gassville is now.

The route then goes through Cotter along the old military road that went through a field across from the city water tower. Woodiel believes most of the group crossed White River at the shoals now known as Denton's Ferry, with a few who had money going up to be taken across at Talbot's Ferry that was about where Mooney's Landing would've been.

Writings show the group camped just across the river from what is now Denton's Ferry. Woodiel believes Benge took the group along Fallen Ash Creek, crossed what is now Highway 412 past Yellville and went back down the hill toward Crooked Creek, rejoining the military road there.

From there, they continued across the central part of Marion County through Eros, then to Everton, maybe Valley Springs and then across south of where Harrison is today and through Carrollton.

Woodiel thinks the group then went through Farmington and joined the primary Trail of Tears route in Oklahoma.

Woodiel, Musick and Carr plan to be in Baxter County Monday through Thursday.
 

 
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