While traveling across the US and Canada it was fascinating to me to see the different minerals that were mined and how it took place. We have seen Gold, Silver, and Copper mines, as well as Opal and Agate mines. So when we found a museum about Bauxite mining in Arkansas we had to take a closer look. It is interesting to see the economic effect that the various products have on the areas and what happens when the mining stops. In many cases this occurs when the products run out naturally, but in the case of Bauxite it occurred because the mineral was no longer needed. Bauxite in the dictionary is described as: an off-white, grayish, brown, yellow, or reddish-brown rock composed of a mixture of various amorphous or crystalline hydrous aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides, along with free silica, silt, iron, hydroxides, and esp. clay minerals. However, when looking at a sample of the mineral I found it to be a very interesting mixture of textures and colors. It is a common residual or transported constituent of clay deposits in tropical and subtropical regions, and occurs in concretionary, compact, earthy, pisolitic, or oolitic forms. Bauxite is the principal commercial source of aluminum. Among its uses are: (1)producing the metal, aluminum, (2) manufacture of abrasives and refractory materials, (3) in various processes and products in the chemical industry, (4) as a fluxing agent in the steel industry, (5) for the manufacture of high-alumina cements.
The museum was a small building that made good use of the space it had available. We were standing on the front lawn when a delightful lady came out and invited us inside. Inside we met two of the volunteers: Arbelle Hardin and Bobbie Edmonson. I've often found that the people who work in the museum set the atmosphere for your visit. We learned that the museum consists of four rooms, three of which are named for the co-founders of the museum. The first room, The Sally Donnor Room, displays artifacts from the community and the families that lived and worked there. The second room, the Paul Kimbrough Room, exhibits tools and machinery used in the mining and manufacturing of the ore. The third room, the Jimmie Hines Room, is crowded with exhibits from the many organizations, school activites and town buildings. This room also serves as a memorial to the brave men and women who fought in the war and commemorates those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Sports has always been an important part of Bauxite's history and it naturally follows that the fourth room, The Bono Room, is a sports gallery. This room is named for it's builder and organizer of the Bauxite Historical Association. The gallery displays varying sports memorabilia from the early nineteen hundreds to the present.
It's important to remember that the museum is staffed by volunteers and the hours are:
Wednesday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Directions: From Little Rock take I-30 south to exit 123. This is highway 183. Travel south on 183 for 5 miles to the Bauxite Post Office on the left. Go one block turn left at the Museum sign. The Community Hall building is one block on the right.