2 Minute Tale: Who opened the gates?

by Randy Townzen

These days in Bentonville, when driving to work, to errands or appointments, you have to consider the traffic and plan the best route.  Delays are common from construction and increasing numbers of vehicles.  You may have looked at the endless stream of cars and said "who opened the gates?"  That saying has been around a long time.  In fact, it may have been first used right here in our home town.

Before World War Two, There was no Walton Boulevard, no interstate 49 or even a Highway 71 Bypass.  Highway 71 didn't go through Bella Vista, but went west to Gravette.  Highway 72 only went east to Pea Ridge, and highway 102 was never busy because it was the longest straight stretch of dirt road in Arkansas. 

The city limits stretched only from Highway 102 in the south to Breathwaite Hill in the north.  The main road through town was State Highway 100, which entered south of town at what is now SW "A" street, and wandered north down Breathwaite Hill on to Missouri.  We didn't have a bus depot until 1947, so the Greyhound and Trail Lines came right through town to Main Street where you bought your ticket at the Corner Drug Store. To go to Missouri, you might choose to go west to Gravette, then on 59 to Noel where you could catch the passenger train north.

But with these various roads of travel, there was always one where you had to plan ahead to avoid a delay.  South of town at the junction of Highways 100 and 102, was the Sam Jackson Dairy Farm.  The farm extended on both sides of both highways and twice a day, every day, the gates were opened and 50 milk cows crossed the highway to graze, then return to be milked.  It didn't matter if you were on a bicycle, in a car or aboard a bus, at milking time the traffic stopped.

So, back then, if you were driving to work, to errands or appointments, you also needed to plan your route...before someone opened the gates.