Updated: May 27
A Blog Series
HOG SCALD HOLLOW
Hog Scald Hollow may be one of the best kept secrets in the Ozarks, due to its out-of-the-way location, and its somewhat unappealing name. Tucked in a lush valley at the edge of scenic Carroll County, Arkansas and seasoned with cold springs and steep granite-lined canyons, Hogscald (as it is locally referred) is an area of unsurpassed beauty and seeped in tradition.
Like many of the natural springs in the area (such as those in nearby Eureka Springs), the Native Americans considered the waters of Hogscald to be sacred peace grounds, where even neighboring tribes could visit and partake of the cold, clear waters without resistance. Ancient ceremonies of health and healing were often held in the natural bluff shelter beneath Auger Falls.
It is said that the Hogscald area first gained the attention of American settlers in the 1830's. It has since played host to soldiers from both sides of the Civil War, served as an awe-inspiring outdoor church, community butchering ground, campground, inspiration for Ozark writers and artists, and even as a lake-front refuge for skinny-dipping hippies.
The spring-fed Hogscald Creek meandered down through a breathtaking canyon, feeding several waterfalls during its journey. Along its route, natural erosion created holes in the smooth rock bed, averaging four to five feet deep and six feet wide. During the fall, the creek was temporarily diverted by early pioneers and Confederate soldiers, and these kettle-like openings were filled with hot stones until the water was scalding. Wild hogs were then dipped in the holes, making it easier to remove the hair from their hides. Hence, the location earned the name "Hog Scald", befitting the task at hand, but denying the stunning one-of-a-kind views afforded by this veritable paradise on earth.
S A C R E D
Located approximately ten miles south of Eureka Springs is a land of clear, gushing springs, babbling brooks and majestic waterfalls. A spring-fed creek tumbles toward an area of smooth water-worn rock with enormous tub-like basins where water circles and spills before cascading over Auger Falls and into a pool surrounded by the bluff shelters of Fern Dell. The water flows on through Hog Scald Hollow until it joins Beaver Lake.
Countless waterfalls grace the area, including Hog Scald Falls, Auger Falls, Peek-a-Boo Falls, Parker Falls, Slide Off Falls, and the Cascades Waterfall.
Out here, at Hog Scald Hollow there is water everywhere; spilling over rocky ledges and twisting happily through granite-lined canyons. This land is dotted with solid oaks, massive pines and flourishing cedars. Purple grapes cling to broad leafed vines and red berries blush the cheeks of the hills adding a bit of romance to the scene.
Under a giant ledge overlooking Hog Scald creek early pioneers of the thirties and forties held worship in this natural temple for more than three-quarters of a century. It was the most ideal place to worship God.
The people who found their way into these hills were sturdy in character and like their Puritan and Cavalier ancestry, they made time to offer their thanks to God. His very fingerprints are in every work of nature in this region and to these pioneers, it was an environment that was sacred to them.
Below Auger Falls, on Hog Scald creek was a natural shelter that was a most suitable place to hold religious services. With an auditorium on one side of the stream and a pulpit made of rock for the minister, the choir took up shelter in the opposite area.
In 1868, W. M. Weatherman, a former union soldier from Indiana, married, became an ordained preacher and moved to the Middle Clifty area. Weatherman became the first preacher at the Hog Scald Bluff Church.
The church "made use of the natural formation of the rocks which formed a sanctuary 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. In the center of the 'auditorium' is a clear pool of water that was especially convenient for baptisms and the preacher was provided with a built-in pulpit in the form of a big rock which juts out high over the creek bed. Seats or 'pews' for the Hog Scald Church were made from split logs laid upon rocks across the water and opposite the pulpit."
S C A L D I N G
In later years, during the Civil War, Hog Scald became an active community center. This was around the time when the entire valley served as a Confederate campsite. Hog Scald served as a meeting place for settlers taking part in activities such as butchering hogs, canning wild fruits and making sorghum molasses. The elbow of the falls offered opportunity to hem in herds of wild hogs and kill them in a cove convenient to the butchering grounds.
Soldiers would use a method of heating the water to the scalding point in order to drop hot stones into the pits. The hogs were then immersed in the hot water until their hides were soaked sufficiently for the removal of the hair with knives.
In the absence of more suitable containers, locals continued the tradition of scalding hogs in the four to five foot deep and six foot wide rock basins.
When the war ended, natives of the community continued this practice. Families would drive many miles through the hills to camp at Hog Scald, butchering hogs, canning wild fruits, and enjoying a few days of social contact. And always there was church on Sunday.
A number of tall tales have been told about Hog Scald. An old-timer once said that there used to be a bramble thicket near the potholes, where the road is now. They'd get the water good and hot an’ throw the hogs in alive. They’d jump out a-squealin’, an’ run right through them bramble bushes. The thorns would take the bristles off slicker’n-a-whistle, so we didn’t have to scrape’m at all.
H O G S C A L D T O D A Y
Beaver Dam was completed in 1966, filling nearby canyons with water and forever changing the face of Hogscald Hollow. The area became a favorite swimming spot for hippies and tourists in the 1970's, and clothing was usually optional. Artists brought their canvas, writers their notebooks, and photographers found that they never had enough film on hand to capture the inspiring craftsmanship of mother nature that lined these valleys. In 1987, a 10-acre portion of Hogscald Hollow was registered as a conservation preserve to be held by the Ozark Regional Land Trust, perpetually protecting this mystical place from future development, and ensuring that it will remain an inspiration for generations to come.
Directions to Hogscald From Eureka Springs, AR:
Head South on HWY 23 for approximately 7 miles.
Turn Right (West) at Buck Mountain Road (CR-108).
Take a left at the fork onto Hogscald Road (CR-148 / CR-56).
At approx. 1.5 miles, you will drive over a rock slab in the road.
The infamous "scalds" can be seen on the left side of the road.
Continue West on Hogscald Road for a view from the top of the falls.