Two log structures located on opposite banks of the Eleven Point River in rural Randolph County, Arkansas, have inspired an exceptional journey.
Prior to beginning the restoration of these silent educators, we knew they dated to Arkansas’s territorial period. We knew Reuben Rice and William Looney, considered to be the builders of the structures, were among the pioneering American families coming into the valley in the first decade following the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. From the beginning we knew this project was destined to go beyond restoring unique examples of the state’s built culture; it would be a journey that would open a window into a society.
Presented here is a summation of our discoveries. Contrasted with the toolkit of skills possessed by craftsmen of two centuries ago, a new toolkit of digital skills is allowing us to share what we have learned through an internet website and interpretive videos. We are not professionals in all these skills as will be evident. But we, like Reuben Rice, William Looney, and their kinfolk and neighbors, are not letting that fact hold us back from opening a new interpretive frontier focused on what Black River Technical College calls Project REACH – Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage.