Author Archives: Faulkner County Historical Society

Toad Suck Ferry and Toad Suck Lock and Dam Bridge

For several years, the Chamber of Commerce operated a ferry at Toad Suck, where Highway 60 crosses the Arkansas River linking Faulkner and Perry Counties. The Chamber of Commerce financed the operation of the ferry, hoping the Perry County residents would bring enough business across the Arkansas River to justify the expense of the ferry.

Dave Ward, a local blacksmith who eventually built school buses, was responsible for building the Toad Suck Ferry, which operated across the Arkansas River until the Toad Suck Bridge was built in the early 1970s.

When the construction of the Arkansas River Navigation project was begun, the Chamber of Commerce Road Committee proposed to the Arkansas Highway Commission the construction of Continue reading

Toad Suck Ferry is Back Home

Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the Log Cabin Democrat on October 26, 2020, as the Toad Suck Ferry was returned to Toad Suck Damsite Park.

By Andy Robertson

The Toad Suck Ferry is back home.

Operating across the Arkansas River at the site of the lock and dam from 1956 to 1972, the 20-foot wide, 60-foot long steel ferry arrived at its resting place on the Faulkner County side of the river Sunday and was placed Monday morning.

The ferry was moved to north Arkansas upon completion of the lock and dam and Highway 60 bridge.

What once transported passengers from the Faulkner County to the Perry County side of the river, began transporting passengers across Lake Norfolk and Bull Shoals.

For nearly 60 years, the ferry saw many passengers, but in 2016, it was retired.

Next came a message to the city of Conway Chief of Staff Jack Bell.

“We got a notice from what was the highway department then,” Bell said. “They said it was surplus to them and they’d sell it and gave us a scrap price for it. We’ve been working on it since then. It’s been off and on that we’ve worked on it.”
Bell said an estimate to put the ferry on a truck, transport it to Conway and then lift it off a truck was for $84,000, which left little hope that it would return.

“We finally got an estimate to move it and it was exorbitant,” he said. “It was a terrible amount. So, I kind of gave up on it.”

However, the disappointment ended this summer.

“The highway department called this summer and asked if they could bring it to us,” he said. “We said ‘absolutely.’ All we had to do was build a path and pay for the crane to get it up.”

Bell said getting the ferry back to its Arkansas River location was a collaborative effort.

“It’s been a cooperative effort between the county, city and the state,” he said. “We’ve been working on it off and on, and finally started getting hot and heavy this fall.”

The scrap price Bell mentioned to buy the ferry was $2,035, but the total operation cost would be about $50,000 after building a concrete slab and renting a crane to place the ferry.

“The cost to buy the barge was $2,035, but the pad was close to $30,000,” he said. “We haven’t gotten the bill on the crane, but we’re thinking it’s going to be close to $10,000. The city council appropriated $10,000 for the purchase and toward the crane. It will go back to city council for money for renovations and get it back to what it looked like before. I think it will be great if we can do that. It’s been a great process. The total is probably around $50,000. That’s spread out over the city, county and the state. The estimated cost to put it on a truck, bring it to Conway and lift it off the truck was $84,000. It was a big benefit for ARDOT to volunteer to do that.”

As it currently stands, the ferry is left to its steel skeleton, but Bell hopes to renovate the ferry back to what it looked like during its heyday, which included a cabin, paddle wheels and its white and orange paint.

The ferry will still be on display despite not looking like it once did, which will allow people to come and look at it and reminisce.

“It will just be for looking at,” Bell said. “It won’t have access to it. We’ll put some kind of barricade around it. It’s here for people to bring their grandkids out and say, ‘I rode that ferry.’”

Photo by Andy Robertson

Fall 2020 Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings Published

Cadron Blockhouse, Faulkner County, Arkansas

By Cindy Beckman

The Fall 2020 edition of Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings, the journal of the Faulkner County Historical Society, has been published. Society members should receive their copies in the mail this week.

This issue includes an article submitted by Nancy Breeden Mitchell on the Frederick Nahlen family. Originally written by Clarence Nahlen, it traces the story of Continue reading

A Look Back: The Toad Suck Ferry

by Cindy Beckman

Fifty years ago, the Toad Suck Lock and Dam, and the bridge that spans its top, opened to the public.

Part of the larger McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, the dam and bridge were constructed between 1965 and 1970. Before this time, travelers had to use the Toad Suck Ferry to cross the Arkansas River at this point.

A ferry of some variety operated at Toad Suck throughout most of its history. The first regular river crossing there was said to have been Continue reading

Through the Cabin Window – March, 2019

100 YEARS AGO, 1919

♦ J.W. James, proprietor of James Business College, moved his furniture and other equipment from his former location on the west side of the railroad to rooms on the third floor of the new Halter Building. His new quarters would allow him to better accommodate a larger number of pupils.

♦ The Racket Store, formerly owned by Percy Rankin, became the property of C.H. Nelson and Mack Seay. The business would continue under the same name and E.W. Rogers would be in charge of the store.

♦ The Lincoln-Jones Electric Company offices were remodeled. Space was gained by an additional room that allowed the company to handle a larger assortment of fixtures and supplies. Mrs. Rosa L. Hicks moved her office to the rear of the store.

75 YEARS AGO, 1944

♦ Conway Civic League met to discuss plans for enforcing the local option which would become effective in Faulkner County on March 18.

♦ The largest group of selectees ever to be sent to the Little Rock induction center from Faulkner County left the national guard armory. At 6 a.m., 135 men, including 12 high school students and six transfers from other boards. The record would only last one day, however, because 153 were scheduled to leave the following morning.

♦ Students from ASTC moved back into their old dorm rooms that were vacated by the WACs. Men students moved from Doyne Hall to Baridon Hall with Dr. and Mrs. Jeff Farris as host and hostess. Junior and senior women moved to Bernard Hall.

50 YEARS AGO, 1969

♦ A groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for March 18 for Kimberly Clark’s $6 million tampon manufacturing plant—to be known as Conway Mills. The new facility would be constructed in the northeast corner of the Conway Industrial Park at Commerce Road and Exchange Avenue

♦ Nabholz Construction was building 30-bed addition to the north end of Conway Memorial Hospital. The addition would run east-west.

♦ Post Office officials were considering a former lumber company as the temporary location of the Conway Post Office while a new Federal Building and Post Office was being constructed. The 7,200 square-foot building at 1103 Front Street formerly housed Cash Lumber. Before that, it housed L.P. Crafton Flour & Feed and was owned by George Shaw.

25 YEARS AGO, 1994

♦ Frank E. Robins III, a fourth-generation publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat, announced his retirement. Michael Hengel, 39, editor of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, California, was named publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat. Stauffer Communications, which purchased a minority share of stock in the Log Cabin in 1989, selected Hengel and announced it would purchase the majority of the stock in the fall.

♦ The two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival-style Robins house at 567 Locust was being considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

♦ Dr. Bobby New, superintendent of Greenbrier Public Schools, asked that his contract not be renewed because he had been offered the superintendent position in another district.

10 YEARS AGO, 2009

♦ Graduates representing seven decades of Conway education filled the newly renovated auditorium, part of Conway High School-East, to rededicate the building. Jim Stone, a 1950 graduate, took his fellow “antique Wampus Cats” on a stroll down memory lane during the program. Members of the class of 1937, the first group to graduate from the building, were special guests.

♦ Nabholz Construction hosted a cocktail reception at the Clinton Presidential Center to celebrate its 60th anniversary. More than 200 employees, clients, company friends and current and past state legislators attended Continue reading