Arkansas, the Natural State. Our state is full of wondrous natural beauty, breathtaking vistas and friendly people. It’s also known for its share of the unexplained and mysterious.
In the early 1900s, a middle-aged stationary salesman knew by locals only as “Old Mike” dutifully made his monthly visits to Prescott in Nevada County to ply his wares.
During one such trip, he rested against a large oak tree in the city park after an outdoor revival.
The next day, he was found dead of an apparent heart attack or stroke while still seated against that very tree.
Cornish Mortuary took care of embalming old mike and preparing him for burial.
Unfortunately for Old Mike, no one came to claim his remains.
In an effort to find someone who knew Old Mike, the mortuary placed him on display in the hope someone would recognize him. Hundreds of people from across the U.S. and from around the world came to see mike hoping to find a long-lost relative.
Old Mike, who was probably of Italian descent and had injuries to his right arm and left leg, remained at the funeral home and became something of a tourist attraction but after over six decades no one came to bring Old Mike home.
Sixty-four years after old mike was embalmed and put on display, he was finally laid to rest.
He’s buried in Deann Cemetery in Prescott. One hundred and ten years after his passing, old mike’s true identity remains a mystery.
Miller County in Southwest Arkansas is best known for the divided city of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas. But drive just a little east and you’ll find yourself in a very rural, rather swampy area in and around the small city of Fouke that’s known far and wide for being the home of the Fouke monster.
“People come in from all over the country,” Denny Roberts, owner of Monster Mart, said. “All 50 states, several states have been duplicated several times in the last five years. Twenty-six countries.”
In 1971, something came out of the swamps, out of the bogs. It was unlike any animal local residents had ever seen before. A hairy creature that stood seven feet tall, was 3 feet wide at the chest, walked upright like a human and it grabbed bobby ford outside his home near Fouke. Ford shot at the creature and it briefly fell to the ground before disappearing into the night. The sheriff’s department responded and searched for blood trails from the creature but didn’t find any. They “did” find scratches on the front door of ford’s home and strange tracks near the area. Numerous sightings, photographs and tracks have been discovered over the past fifty years.
“The latest sighting was right before the time change just a few months ago about two and a half miles from here, from the store, on Highway 134,” Roberts said.
If you find yourself in rural Miller County, anywhere near Fouke, especially right here along Boggy Creek, keep your eyes and ears open because something else might be out there.
It seems just about everyone in Arkansas had heard of the Gurdon lights. Tucked away between I-30 and Arkansas highway 53 lies a stretch of an abandoned and overgrown railroad bed that has drawn hundreds if not thousands of supernational enthusiasts in search of unusual orbs of light in the thick undergrowth of rural southern Clark County.
Some attribute this phenomenon to the spirit of a railroad working beheaded in a train accident carrying a lantern. Another story says the lights are the lantern of another railroad worker killed in a train derailment. Others have a more scientific explanation…they believe it’s piezoelectricity from the constant stress the area’s underground quartz crystals are under. No matter what the explanation, the Gurdon light falls into the realm of the unexplained.
Small state, big mysteries
While Arkansas may be a small state, from Texarkana to Jonesboro, from Bentonville to Eudora and everywhere in between, we’ve got more than our fair share of mysteries, paranormal activity and the simply unexplained. Just a little bit of digging will surface a long laundry list of unusual happenings. Maybe, just maybe, our state motto should be “Arkansas, the unnatural state.”
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