Cotton Exchange, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 215


     When I think of cotton fields, I think of “Gone With The Wind” and darkies in the field.

     Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. (“gin” stands for engine and not a still.) That made separating the seeds from the cotton easier, the cotton still had to be picked by hand.

     Although Samuel S. Rembert and Jedediah Prescott received the first patent for a cotton harvester in 1850, it was not until 1936 that the first commercial harvester was produced by John and Mack Rust. 

     Delta Airlines, named for the Delta of the Mississippi where it was founded, began as the world’s first crop dusting organization in 1924. 

     After the Civil War, Cotton was traded as a commodity. Because of its location on the Mississippi River, Memphis became a center point of cotton sales in the South. The Memphis Cotton Exchange was incorporated on April 20, 1874 to regulate cotton marketing in the city. The exchange had exclusive membership, limited to men only. 

     Cotton is graded into qualities based on the content of seeds and other stuff in the cotton. This is called classing. For example, a higher quality cotton would be used for bed sheets, with a lower quality for denim jeans. This is where the phrase “fair to middling” comes from. It had to be done in natural sunlight, therefore it was done on the top floor of the Exchange under north facing skylights. It could not be done on cloudy days.  

     The centerpiece of the exchange was a large blackboard placed high above the trading floor. Only members were allowed on the trading floor, and you had to be invited to be a member. 


    Everything changed with the advent of the computer, which made it possible to get prices and trade electronically. The exchange closed in 1974. 

     Tidbit of information: The Confederate currency was backed by cotton rather than gold. You can see the image of cotton on every note issued by the Southern States. 

     Do you recognize this symbol? day-215-cotton-exchange-tn-8461_fotor

     In the 1950’s and 60’s synthetic fibers were becoming more popular because of their ease of use and being wrinkle free. As a result, textile mills were buying less cotton. Cotton Inc. was formed in 1970 to promote the use of cotton and therefore their share of the market. In 1973 they introduced the “seal of cotton” so the consumer could easily identify cotton products. Evidently it worked. (Sort of “look for the union label”). You sang that in your head, didn’t you?




West Memphis, Arkansas

Day 213


     We have turned east and are heading towards Maryland, expecting to arrive home in about a month. 

     Today we are staying in West Memphis, Arkansas. Our campsite is right on the Mississippi River, which I can view as I type this. 

     We had another challenge as we drove here. About 6 tenths of a mile before the campsite we came upon a railroad crossing (it seems a lot of our campsites are next to railroad crossings, or depots). The gates were down and a train was stopped on the tracks. We waited about a half hour, then decided to call the campground for suggestions. They told us to turn around and gave us a route that would get us around the train. The street we were on was a normal size side street, which would not allow us to turn around. There was a tractor trailer ahead of us and 3 behind us, also waiting to cross the train tracks. 

     The tractor trailer ahead of us drove up to the train and turned into a warehouse lot, where he turned around and exited in the opposite direction down the street. We followed his example and did the same thing. 

     We followed the directions of the campground host which took us a couple of miles down a street which paralleled the train tracks. We eventually turned to cross the train track and saw the end of the train which blocked our initial crossing. If the train had 5 more cars, we would not have been able to cross even here. 

     When we arrived at the campground, appropriately called Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi RV Park, we were informed that since we were on the riverside of the levy we will be notified if the Mississippi rises to a crest, so that we can evacuate. 

     After setting up camp, we walked along the banks of the river. It was fairly low as there has been little rain in the area for the last month or so. However, we did notice all the electric was up on towers. 

     We went to look at the laundry facilities, which was also elevated with this sign:


Technical Stuff:

Hot Springs, AR to West Memphis, AR 205.4 miles

4 hours 18 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.10

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Day 209


     The hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas is created by thermal fusion. Other springs, like in Yellowstone National Park, are heated by volcanic action. 

     First, the statistical information that I present in these blogs is provide me by the National Park Rangers, Docents, or Placards at the places we visit. Second, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the information I received at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas in reference to the age of the water. 

    The spring water comes from rainfall that seeps down into the earth where it is heated by the heat generated from the earth’s core. To become a hot spring, the water must find a fault in the core to rapidly make it’s way to the surface, otherwise it would cool as it returns to the surface. The temperature of the water here at Hot Springs is 143 degrees. 

     According to the Park Ranger, the water in the springs fell as rain over 4,000 years ago. This is determined by carbon dating. 4,000 years ago? I find that hard to believe. Further, according to the Ranger, 


750,000 gallons of water comes up through the springs each day. Therefore, if it doesn’t rain here ever again, they have water for the next 4,000 years?

     Further, if I drink this water, and there are numerous fountains throughout the city, then fall into a cave and die, and my body is found 1 year later, at which time they decide to do carbon dating on me, will they think I am 4000 years old? Just saying. 

     This area was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. President Jefferson sent explorers William Dunbar and George Hunter to investigate the Springs, which had been known to French fur traders and indians for some time. The report to Jefferson became widely known, drawing many people to this area for what they thought was a therapeutic value to the hot water. 

     There are 47 springs here. Crude bathhouses were built over the springs. However, as the area grew the water became contaminated because the residents and visitors dumped their waste into the streams. This caused the Federal Government to take the unprecedented step in 1832 of creating part of this area as a Reservation. Nevertheless they did nothing to control the land until 1877 when the Government took steps to preserve the creek and springs. 

     By 1916 the Government had walled in or covered and locked most of the springs to prevent contamination.


   They did leave a number of places you can access the springs. 


     At this spring I tried putting my hand in the far end, but the temperature, 137 degrees, was too hot for me keep it in the water for more that a few seconds. 


     The configuration of the Hot Springs National Park is unique in that a city had been developed before the Feds took over. Therefore part of the city is actually in the National Park. The only brewery in a National Park is located here. We stopped in so I could have a beer (root). We had a table overlooking one of the springs.


     Today, there are only 2 bathhouses in operationOf course we could not pass up the opportunity to bathe in the hot spring water at one of the bath houses. There were 4 pools, each 2 degrees warmer than the previous, culminating at 104 degrees.

Technical Stuff:

Branson, MO to Hot Springs, AR 232.1 miles

5 hours 22 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.24

Shoji Tabuchi Show, Branson, Missouri

Day 208day-208-tabuchi-branson-mo-8269_fotor

Shoji Tabuchi, pronounced 田淵 章, is a …>>>>>… guess.

     Shoji Tabuchi was born April 16, 1944 in Daishoji, Ishikawa, Japan. Started playing the violin at age 7. Came to the United States in the 60’s and became an American Citizen. He became well known after playing at the Grand Ole Opera in Tennessee. He started playing in Branson in the 80’s, and now has his own theater. A true American success story.


His step-daughter also performs in the show:

day-208-tabuchi-branson-mo-8327_fotor day-208-tabuchi-branson-mo-8331_fotor

Branson Landing, Missouri

Day 206


     Barbara needed a shopping fix, so we went to Branson Landing, an outdoor shopping mall. She picked up some small gifts. Can’t buy too much, no place to put it in our 40 ft. home. While she did that, I sat with my new friend.


Walked along the boardwalk by the river. Actually it was a cement walk. 


     There was a neat water display fountain. We were told that in the evening there is a lighted water display presentation. So we chose to eat dinner at a steakhouse restaurant with a balcony over-looking the fountain.