An Eclectic Coal Chute

Early in my quest for information and photographs of the Eureka Springs Underground, I received a message via a local online bulletin board from the owners of Eclectic Edge, a fine home furnishings dealer (now closed) on Spring Street specializing in "jewelry for the home." They invited me to take a look at a possible underground entrance that they had discovered in the basement of their new store location. Seeing as information on the Spring Street underground seems to be more elusive than that of Main Street, I quickly scheduled a visit.

Ginny and David were very congenial, and I was impressed with the atypical contemporary art and decor for sale in their store. We hit the stairs and they gave me a quick tour through the basement, where a Gigeresque art installation was being prepared by local artist JD Davis. We entered a store room that bordered the street, where a large wooden board covered an opening in the old stone wall foundation.

I assisted David in prying the board loose with a hammer, and small chunks of stone and rock fell near my feet as the rusty nails loosened. We pried the edge up a little and I attempted to peek inside. Immediately, we noticed that the tunnel didn't run parallel to the sidewalk, but perpendicular. I was getting excited at the prospect of finding a tunnel that actually crossed under the street, possibly connecting one underground sidewalk passage to another. However, once were able to pull the entire board down, we realized that the tunnel was just a coal chute that dead-ended several feet from the opening.

Overhead, we could see the iron coal chute cover in the sidewalk. In the "old days" of Eureka Springs, the local coal merchant would deliver coal via these manhole-style covers, dropping it directly into the basement where a coal burning furnance would be located. This was a fairly common practice for obvious reasons - even in huge metropolitan cities like New York. I also noticed some old rusty beams above. At first, I thought these may be old street-car tracks leftover from the early Eureka Springs trolley system, but I now believe that they are bond-beams installed to support the sidewalk wherever there were openings in the wall, as they appear above several of the underground entrances that I have seen.

While both the shop owners and I were a bit disappointed that we hadn't uncovered a new entrance to Underground Eureka on Spring Street, I was none-the-less thrilled that I was able to view this unique piece of Eurekan history. I thank the owners of Eclectic Edge for inviting me into their shop to take a look.

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Eclectic Edge Coal Chute
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Coal Chute Cover and Support Beams
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