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Thursday, May 5, 2016

New park station pays tribute to George D. Hay

Thursday, May 26, 2005

MAMMOTH SPRING -- A new interpretive station has been added to the Spring Lake Trail at Mammoth Spring State Park. The George D. Hay Foundation asked park officials if something could be constructed or added to the state park to show appreciation for Hay and the Mammoth Spring area for their contribution to the formation of the Grand Ole Opry.

"Several ideas were presented to state park officials and we finally decided on the interpretive station," Mammoth Spring State Park Superintendent Dave Jackson said.

He said this makes 17 stations in all around the spring. "The great thing about these stations is, when park personnel go home, there are always visitors still at the park and the interpretive signs give them a lot of information," Jackson said. He said Arkansas State Park personnel designed the sign.

"It is wonderful when local guys have an idea that benefits both the park and the community," the superintendent said.

Bob Ross, the first president of the George D. Hay Foundation, addressed those gathered, as did Eric Lewis, who currently serves as the foundation president. Lewis mentioned how much their organization appreciates Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace and the community in general.

"We are fortunate to have this park in our community. We are standing at the very spot where George D. Hay got off the train in 1919," Lewis said. The new sign has been placed near the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum.

Karen Hendrix, the museum director, gave a reading on the arrival of Hay and his journey to the hoedown while at Mammoth Spring.

Hay is credited for founding the Grand Ole Opry after visiting the area while working as a reporter for the Commercial Appeal, a Memphis newspaper.

Eric Lewis and the Southern Missouri Bluegrass Band, ended the ceremony by playing two songs that were played at the hoedown that night in the Ozark hills, "Get Along Susie" and "Old Dan Tucker."

After the ceremony guests enjoyed a complimentary tour of the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum as well as free Spring Lake paddle boat rides.

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