Models capture 19th-century Van Winkle mill, a school – The Free Weekly
Mike Carney says he wasn’t very interested in history growing up and wouldn’t consider himself an artist. Still, Carney created something out of popsicle sticks, craft glue, and “a common steak knife” that most people couldn’t even imagine.
It took Carney 557 hours to complete a three-dimensional sculpture of the Van Winkle Mill, built in 1856 in Van Hollow, Benton County, and an additional 311 hours to recreate the Van Winkle “subscription” school. The two structures, which he calls âground models,â are on display until the end of October at Hobbs State Park, along with four large Van Winkle Hollow paintings by Mike’s brother, John.
âNone of us could be categorized as history buff,â Carney says of himself and his brother. âJohn is simply a self-taught artist who became interested in Van Hollow when I started presenting the Van Winkle family story.
âI was an archivist for the County Clerk’s Benton County Office for four years,â Carney continues, âand during that time I discovered the Van Winkle Mill and its history and finally met the little one. -daughter of Peter and Temperance Van Winkle, who wrote a book on the family. Hobbs staff asked me to present the story every year at their fair. In order to make an effective visual presentation of the structures that were once there I decided to build the display models.I thought it would be a learning tool for all who attended and preserve the time in American history when the mills were a common structure.
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Van Winkle’s Mill was a series of flour mills and sawmills operated by Peter Van Winkle near Rogers before and after the Civil War. The Van Winkle Mill site, which became part of the Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 15, 2007.
âThe mill flourished during the post-war construction boom,â the encyclopedia states, âproviding lumber for the reconstruction of Fayetteville and the construction of public buildings such as what is now known as the Old Main at the University of Arkansas “.
âI think it would be safe to say that a lot of the houses and buildings constructed between 1868 and 1900 were constructed with Van Winkle timber,â Carney adds. In addition to the mill, Carney says he settled on the school “because it was the only structure I had access to,” painted by his brother from a black and white photo.
Also according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, laws passed by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature as early as 1829 “authorized cities in the state to appoint administrators to raise funds and establish schools.” Ultimately, this meant that the school system was subscription-based or “pay-as-you-go” just like the Van Hollow School.
âI’ve never built anything like the Models in my life, and I was even surprised at how well they turned out,â Carney said. âI just framed the walls like a builder would and built the unit. I had no written plans for the structure. I just looked at the pictures that John painted and built the models. I have to call it a gift from Godâ¦ and I am as fascinated as the others that the structures have gone as well as they have.
Carney says he has “no particular plan to see the art” after its exhibition at Hobbs State Park “and that he will consider an exhibition as asked. The motivation for the construction was once again to allow for the public to view what was in the Van Hollow area. â
Models and paintings
By Mike and John Carney
WHEN – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until October
O – Hobbs State Park Visitor Center near Rogers
INFORMATION – 789-5000
BONUS – The half-mile ADA-accessible Van Winkle Historic Trail is just west of the park visitor center on Arkansas 12.