On the Road to Highrock


By SAM D. COOKE
Highrock Hop Race Director

The site of this year's Highrock Hop Trail Race has a long history that begins with settlers in 1836. That's when members of the Wilson and Olgilvie families moved to the Sullivan Creek valley. The Wilson cemetery can be found at the south end of Highrock farm.

A mill was constructed on the creek and remained until the early 1900s. The remains of the large mill timbers can be seen in the creekbed at one of the race course crossings.

A well-traveled wagon road connecting Cave City with Batesville meanders through the valley and continues along Poke Bayou. I have spoken to several elderly citizens who recalled those weekend journeys by wagon from Sandtown and beyond to Batesville, camping along the way. That road bed is actually part of the race course. In 1904, a post office opened on the wagon road at Highrock, and it still remains on the race course: the one-room log cabin with the tin roof.

A manganese mining district encompassed the Highrock area. Mining started in 1886 and continued until 1962. Several mine shafts and an old washer structure dot the farm hills. Other landmarks, though not on the race course, include the Patterson schoolhouse. The structure is still standing with its two fireplaces, and a Patterson cemetery is found atop a beautiful bluff on the creek.

A physician, Dr. Sullivan, lived on the banks of the creek until the 1950s. Several old homesites can be found by their chimneys, wells, or springhouses. Most families had moved from the area after the Depression and World War II.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out our archive for previous travels On the Road, and remember we invite you to share your own story, cause or advice with our members.

But new families have come. My family has owned the farm property since the mid-'60s. I hunted deer along their wooded hill trails, and I would often open the trails for easier passage. Later, I began to enjoy trail running, and using these trails was only natural. The White River Roadrunners enjoyed several Christmas trail runs and potluck dinners at the farm cabin.

I hope this trail running adventure will be enjoyed by novice as well as seasoned trail runners. I thank the rest of my family for supporting this race.

Have a safe run.