An Arkansas documentary crew returned to Morehouse Parish over the weekend to talk to locals and film the first established paddle trail on Bayou Bartholomew.
Last year, the Bayou Bartholomew Task Force contracted with the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) to produce, market and distribute a 60-minute film on the people who have called the bayou home from prehistoric times until today. Some early filming for the documentary began here last summer at the site of the Big Horn steamboat wreck.
On Sunday and Monday, AETN producer Chuck Dovish and videographer Chuck Durham returned to Morehouse and filmed two stretches of the parish’s waterways, starting with Bartholomew tributary Chemin-A-Haut Creek, recently recognized for its millennia-old cypress trees.
“On Monday, we paddled from the mouth of the creek to [U.S.] 425,” said Joe Rolfe, a local volunteer who has been working on the paddle trail project. “The water level was at one foot on the gauge in Jones, which was just the right level for floating.”
Rolfe said he was able to take the visitors for a ride in his motorized canoe, which allowed for filming from the craft rather than having to make stops along the way. The route from Chemin-A-Haut State Park to the Crossett Road bridge is part of a longer stretch described in a recently published LSU AgCenter Agritourism brochure for outdoor enthusiasts, taking paddlers from the Old Berlin Hwy. bridge down to the former site of the Bonner Ferry crossing. There was “a little too much current” for the group to paddle upstream to the beginning of the trail.
“We discussed the paddle trail, and just the bayou in general, and what it means,” said Rolfe.
Prior to Monday’s float trip, the crew visited the ruins of the Wardville steamboat landing, believed to be the last remaining landing on Bartholomew. The crew also interviewed Chemin-A-Haut park manager Russ Brantley, local boat builder Tim Anderson – whose handcrafted wooden pirogue will be included in the documentary – and photographer Rector Hopgood, whose images of Bartholomew were recently on exhibit at the Snyder Museum.
“They indicated they would like to come back [to film in Morehouse Parish], possibly in the fall,” said Rolfe.
The documentarians stayed as guests in cabins at Chemin-A-Haut, and were treated to a local restaurant by Morehouse Economic Development Corp.
Bartholomew Task Force founder Curtis Merrell said the documentary is intended to focus on the role the bayou “has played in people’s lives and how important it’s going to be in the future.” Among the consultants for the projects is Rebecca DeArmond-Huskey, author of “Bartholomew’s Song: A Bayou History.”The documentary may be completed and broadcast on AETN as early as March 2013.