Mena is the perfect little wide spot in the road to stop at on your way to Texarkana from Fort Smith, or from Texarkana to Fort Smith. The best reason to stop is for a bite to eat or spend the night. Click HERE to discover the best places to eat and the best places of rest.
This is also a great place to look forward to if you are having car trouble. There are people here who can rebuild your whole car from a single bolt if you give them a chance. Alternators, brakes, complete motor overhauls, Mena mechanics can come to your rescue day or night.
Linger Longer in Mena
Mena has so much to show off when people stop and give us a chance. When our visitors show up unexpectedly we give them a choice of great Chinese food, wonderful Mexican food, or down to the Chopping Block for great taste. The last couple that came to visit us were from Houston. We got no farther than offering Chinese food as they are aficionados. Therefore we took them out to dine at the New China restaurant, which they readily admitted had better Chinese food than anything they had discovered in the Houston area.
The next morning we took them out to Steve's Country Store for breakfast and after finding out Susan and Johnny were from Texas Steve pulled out all the stops on them to show off his talents. He ran them through the mind-bending puzzles, and showed them some of his favorite electromagnetic massage techniques. And then for the grand finale he had Susan balancing on one foot so that the OOOie stick would go, then stand on the other foot so it would turn and run the other way. She didn't balk until Steve brought out the baby OOOie stick and told her it used to be full grown but someone left it out in the rain. They even got Johnny to do the OOOie call so the stick would go full force. They were good sports even though Johnny insisted his calling had nothing to do with making the stick go although he could see no other reason for it going.
After that we took them up to the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge and they went down Lover's Lane together. Susan came back puffing and wheezing terribly as she is a smoker. The trail was so hard to climb, she protested. We suggested that she get a walking stick as they made the climb much easier. "What?" Susan cried. "I thought they were for crippled and handicapped people." She bought a stick and tried it out and was amazed at how much the stick helped her on our mountain trails.
Right in the middle of town you will see the old train station on the north side of Highway 71. The Chamber of Commerce is established in the building and it is a veritable fount of news and information about this area. The phone number is: 479 394 2912. I can call up and get answers right off the top of her head.
The old station is kept up much like a museum with a spiffy Dodge black and white police car raring to go. Occasionally, right beside the station you'll find a farmer's market with fresh fruit and vegetables being sold year round.
Right across the street you'll find three of the best antique shops in town.
It's a far cry from proving Global Warming is here to stay!
Country Roads around Mena
Mena Livestock Page
Places to Eat
|Mena is the county seat of Polk County, and it is just a few miles east from the Oklahoma
border. There are only 6,000 residents in town but they are so scattered
out that a letter mailed on a Monday morning from a home on the east edge of Mena
is delivered on the west end of town on Wednesday evening. There are 5 stoplights on the main drag and
Mena does have a Wal*Mart
SuperCenter. Banks are scattered all over the place
if you need to make a deposit.
Polk County is dry. I was in Wal*Mart one day and approached by a stranger with glittering eyes. "Where's the booze?" he asked. "I can't find the beer section anywhere!"
When I explained that the area was dry his eyes widened in
the nearest place to get a drink then?" he demanded.
In a daze, he wheeled around and spotted his wife.
As Robert Frost almost said one time, "Dry Counties make good neighbors." After three years living in town I've still only had one beer can thrown in my yard. I'm sure that many people here have well-stocked bars at home and dispense drinks liberally to their friends. But drinking in public is frowned upon and selling alcoholic beverages is flat out against the law.
One striking peculiarity of the town is a beautiful ESSO station here, and right close to it there is also a sparkling clean Studebaker showroom.
Studebaker was still selling stock when Bob Newhart was a psychologist. I've never been inside either place, but it raises my spirits just to see these restored buildings as I drive by them on Port Arthur.
Are you old enough to remember the Studebaker Motor Company? At one time if you didn't own a Studebaker pickup you weren't considered a REAL rancher. Naturally, my dream as a child was to someday own a brand new Studebaker pickup. I'd still like to have one -- if anyone is passing out Christmas presents.
There are many other buildings here which, if they were found in Mississippi or Georgia, would have tours coming to tramp through them on a weekly basis.
Cheap Land is still available in this very area. Click HERE for free information on how you can get YOUR share.!
You Should Live In Mena
|There are several great reasons to come live in Mena, but
unfortunately, earning a substantial living isn't one of them. As one
long time resident put it, "You can have anything you want in Mena, as long as
you bring it with you." There is a lot of truth to that
statement. While this is one of the best places in the United
States for industry to move to, industry has chosen to fly south
Seems like this sweet little town has a supply of labor just waiting on opportunity to come knocking. As Mr. Corbett (a truck driver) explained it to me, "I wouldn't live anywhere else, but if I worked in Mena in my field of training I'd only make $8.00 per hour, tops, and that's only if I could knock someone else out of a job."
But maybe that's okay because that makes Mena a great retirement area. Your retirement funds will go twice as far here and whether you just want to sit in the shade or go tearing off through the hills in search of adventure, MENA IS THE RIGHT PLACE.
For those ready to retire, land and home prices are CHEAP compared to the rest of the nation. Have you always dreamed of having a little farm of your own? Mena is the spot to start.
The land here is so productive that about the biggest problem long time residents have is finding someone to share the bounteous produce of their gardens and fruit trees with. There are some people you don't dare smile at lest you come home and find fifteen gallons of cucumbers waiting on your doorstep for you. One reason gardens produce so abundantly is there are almost no earthworms in the soil here. Instead you will find the soil almost writhing with vigorously healthy night crawlers.
Many study courses are available for just a few dollars to retirees at the local college. Arts and crafts classes are held in Mena by some nationally recognized talents. Talents and skills flourish all around this area. Many of the citizens I have met could easily make a big splash in larger ponds -- and some of them have -- but love for the community keeps their roots firmly in the ground here. For example, some of our local Artists have fantastic talents and have sold work all around the country. There are at least five professional authors in town, and a cartoonist. And, a theater in the downtown area produces plays with enough professional polish and aplomb to put Little Rock on its toes.
Wildlife is really abundant here. Hunting is the favorite sport. Four Wheeling comes second. Skunks, Possum and Possum on a half shell and turtles, are the most frequent road kill victims, in that order. Birds are so thick around here they get in on the kamikaze action too. Crows and ravens can darken the sky. Pigeons thrive downtown. Robins, cardinals and woodpeckers are plentiful. An occasional Jay shows up at the feeder. Humming birds arrive in their season. One friend of mine has over fifty of them hitting his feeders at the same time. Just past Dallas, (just outside Mena on Highway 375 East) there is a young bald eagle seen occasionally. There are now two eagles nesting at nearby Lake Wilhelmina during the winter months. Just up the road towards Hot Springs a friend of mine counted 19 eagles at one time, en route to other homes unfortunately. There is another eagle I've seen nearby. There have been reports of an occasional black bear in this area too.
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My favorite outdoor sport is canoeing the Ouachita. The drought has kind of put an end to that but last year I did get to go canoeing in February. One of the best things about this area of the Ouachitas is how many places and trails there are to explore. Just for an example: Wolf Pen Gap has over 70 Miles of dusty trails over green mountains and muddy creek crossings.
Wolfpen Gap is one of the most beautiful of the Arkansas ATV trails, leading the rider through an array of areas featuring a large forest of pine and hardwoods, mountain vistas and an abandoned mine shaft. The 41 miles of trail loops are interconnected to accommodate riders who want to vary the length of their trip and, intersections are conveniently marked for all levels of rider experience.
I took the road less traveled at Iron Forks Lake and it was five hours before I came out on the other side. It was right after a rain and little waterfalls were everywhere. Oh, Oh, Oh, if only I'd had my camera!
The Ouachita Mountain Bike Adventures web site is your guide to mountain bike trails and adventures in the Ouachita Mountains. Hundreds of miles of single track trail awaits you.
Shady Lake has a small 23 acre lake. The terrible ooze at the bottom has recently been cleaned out. The parking and camping facilities were pretty good and the views are terrific. The Arkansas Parks Service says "Camping (96 units) is available, along with group facilities, picnic shelter, flush toilets, accessible vault toilet, drinking water, showers, swimming, fishing, hiking, interpretive trail, amphitheater, playground. No motors allowed on lake. U.S. fee area."
Now, if you like rugged country, this area is great and easily the best in this region. The back road to Shady Lake (from off 375 East) is so rough that I had to stop and put a load of rocks in the back of the pickup to keep my wheels from bouncing us off the road. There were clear streams to leap into, deer in abundance, turkeys to sneak up on, tracks of bear, wildcat, and the occasional panther. Come prepared to use tick control though; there are hollows in here where your legs will turn black with them even if you're running at full speed.
For my money, Iron Fork Lake is a better choice for Menaknights. The water is cleaner. The water is deeper. It is closer to Mena. The fish taste better, and I've never seen more than a few people there at one time. There aren't any camping sites to invite them in either. If you come here, you've come to rough it. Directions... stop in at any business in town. If you see hunting or fishing trophies on the wall, ask for directions. Mena sportsmen are ready to share all the game we have in this area. Give them an excuse and they might shut the business down to guide you all the way there.The distance from Janssen Park in Mena to the Queen Wilhelmina State Park is 13.1 miles. I mention this again because once upon a time there was a foot race between those two points, known as the Rich Mountain Classic.
Racers from around the world, who thought they were good before they got here, came to put in an appearance on the miniature marathon. Click on the name to read the story about the exciting race.
Mena Foliage, caught west of town. Click the Pic.
Click HERE for more pics.
Many faiths are represented in town. The most recent new buildings are the Grace Bible Church and Church of Christ. Both these have huge floor space staked out. The Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses was built by enthusiastic members who worked day and night with a zeal that was contagious. The Methodist Church and the Baptist Church on Port Arthur are radiant with gleaming beauty even during the day time. Many other old church buildings around this area are especially beautiful.
There's really no finer sight than seeing a group of Mennonite boys from Mena walking along the sidewalk or attending the frequent crafts shows. Good health and clean spirits gleam from them like halos. The Mennonite girls look terrific too, but you expect that of girls.
The Dallas Avenue Baptist Church has a beautiful web site and stands as an invitation to one and all to share the sacred words of the Bible.
I've met several members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and found myself flat charmed. They were Christians first and Bikers second. Bike rallies are held here quite regularly with thousands of bikes pouring in. Many local kids want to examine the bikes more closely so when they grow up they can become Christians and get bikes like that too. One little girl wore a T-shirt that said: "When I grow up I want to be a Biker just like my Mommy."
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Has bulletin boards, email, and dozens of other great enchantments.
|Even in the best of circumstances, traffic in Mena can be life-threatening to out-of-state drivers who aren't
used to courtesy. For example, when one of the main stoplights went out
recently and stayed green for the east-west traffic, the stream of cars going east or west began stopping of
their own accord for the backed up north and south traffic to make their
move. By some unseen signal the traffic switched back to east-west,
then again to north-south. This continued for hours until the traffic
signal was repaired.
But speaking of unseen signals. . Do you remember that joke about the old farmer that got creamed while making a left hand turn in front of traffic? Everyone laughed when he explained his right of way by declaring, "Why, I've lived down that road for 60 years now and everyone in this country knows it." Well, 819 of that old farmer's grandchildren now live in Mena and it is no longer a laughing matter. Less than 30% of the vehicles in this area have functioning turn signals.
Now, if by some chance you do see a vehicle coming at you in Mena and the turn signal is working, WATCH OUT! The driver may be defective.
Law and Order
The Mena Police have a web site -- with movies no less. Music is found on most of the pages too. Tommy Hubbard started his Law Enforcement career in 1970 when he went to work for the Mena Police Department as a Patrolman. In 1971 he went to work for the Sheriffs office as a Deputy Sheriff. In 1975 he was given the position as Chief of Police for the city of Mena, and then in 1980 - 1983 he helped establish and then was the Chief of Police for the town of Grannis. In 1989 he took the position as the Chief Deputy for the Polk County Sheriffs Office. In 2003,when Mena once more needed a Chief of Police, they offered the position back to Tommy, and he accepted it. It would be hard to think about the last 33 years of Law Enforcement without thinking about the Chief of Police of the city of Mena, Tommy Hubbard.
Now the Sheriff's web page is plain vanilla, and absolutely fascinating. The history -- the pictures -- just reach right out there and grab you. Sheriff Mike Oglesby is an extremely popular Sheriff with the citizens of Polk County. His door is always open to the public, and his home phone number is listed, so people can call him after hours if they have a problem.
The Mena Fire Department has a great site up and it is getting better. Some of the old pictures are terrific.
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|One of the most interesting publications in Arkansas (I am not confining my
opinion just to papers in this region) is The
Mountain Signal. This magazine offers a glimpse back at
history and is an excellent source for genealogical information. In
addition, you can submit your family history for publication. If you are
interested in how Polk County pioneers lived in the early years of settlement
then you won't be disappointed. It is an excellent source for
finding those ancestors who didn't make the front page of the local newspaper. There
are also some current stories. Click HERE
for more information.
What about that there Mena drug scandal? There isn't much solid information floating around, but what there is of it is written about profusely, elsewhere. What I have read elsewhere compares favorably with other historical works -- you know, like that historical masterpiece: Chariots of the Gods.
Panoramic views of this area are provided by Turner Diversified Services which has carved out a niche with Mena pretty much in the center of their operations.
I need to get back to that FRIENDLY part of describing Mena though. In my twenty seven months here I've stopped at dozens and dozens of places and made extensive visits to twice as many homes for various reasons, and only found one unfriendly person; s/he was moved here fresh from New York City.
Lin Stone is a writer, author, photographer. His personal web page is found at http://www.amazon.com/author/linstone/ An array of his talent can be read for free by visiting his Stone Soup page. I must not be the only one that feels Mena is a great place to live. There are 14 ways to leave town so there is no excuse for those of us who stay here except that we do love the place.
Click HERE to investigate the Lunch Bunch and places of rest.
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Brief History * city links * city names * Birds of Arkansas * Duck Hunting * Mena * Hot Springs * Tornado damage * Arkansas Humor * The Cossatot River Center * Flatside Wilderness * Charlton Water Resort * West of Oden * A Country Tour in Saline County * El Dorado * Eureka Springs * Geese to Hunt * Helena and West Helena * Cold Water Canoeing * Dining Out * Dude Ranch * Business in Arkansas * schools * The Old Mill * Arabians * Beebe Flea Market * Beebe Flea Market2 * Luckiest Diamond Finder in the World * Bathhouses of Hot Springs * The Fordyce Bathhouse of Hot Springs * The Lamar Bathhouse of Hot Springs * The Born Again Gangster in Hot Springs * The Maurice Bathhouse * The Growth of Grandeur in Hot Springs * Romancing The Stone, Hot Springs * Raising Elk in Arkansas * The Rich Mountain Racer Man of many links * The Irish Cowboy * The Bootlegger * Waldron * Murfreesboro * Stuttgart * The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie * Quartz Crystals * The Arkansas Waterfowl Tour * Van Buren County * Can your web site earn an award on Arkansas Super Vacation Site? * The Lynx Page * Click HERE for some great books about Arkansas * The Parley P. Pratt Memorial * Brummit & Geridge *
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