by Marla LaVal
Pulltite is a delightful campground on the Current River. Like many places along the Ozark Riverways, Pulltite has a colorful and interesting story behind it. Originally, Pulltite was home to the Watson Mill. As with many Ozark communities, the story of its name begins with the desire for a post office.
In 1889 John P. Patton received a post office on his farm. His quest for a name for his post office lead him to the spring area up river about a mile. This spring was known as Pulltight for it was a tight pull for the horses as they worked to make it up the steep hill heavily laden with meal after visiting the Watson Mill. It was hard work both ways. The way down to the mill was so steep that the driver would have to brace the back wheels of the wagon with a chain or tree limb. This prevented the wagon from running over the team of horses. To retain control, he would have to pull tightly on the reins to slowly guide the team and wagon down the hill. Therefore the area became known as Pulltight. The spelling was shortened recently to "Pulltite."
Three different mills were built at the spring over the years between the Civil War and 1911. Each of these required a small dam to more efficiently harness the power of the spring. The first mill was turbine powered and located near the present cabin. Eventually a second replaced the first and then a third mill. The third mill was powered by an undershot wheel and was built close to the point at which the spring empties into the river.
Mills were important social gathering places. While farmers waited for their grain to be ground they passed the time of day and shared news. Mills such as these were often the heart of small Ozark hamlets. When these mills went out of business the mill towns soon followed them into oblivion. Near Pulltite is the Weese Cemetery. Take a quiet walk through history by reading the headstones of those that have gone before us.
The Pulltite Cabin is across the river from the campground. The only way to see the cabin is by use of a boat or by wading across the river. The cabin is next to the Pulltite Spring. Pulltite Spring flows out of the base of a bluff with a daily flow of 20 to 30 million gallons.
The cabin was built in the French style in which the logs are placed upright so as not to have to notch them. It was built as a vacation lodge by the six man "Pulltight Corporation," which was created to develop the cabin into a retreat facility. These six men found the area on a float trip and thought it to be so beautiful and peaceful that it would make a great place for a retreat. After purchasing the surrounding land and spring the Corporation built the cabin and had the dams in the spring rebuilt, hoping to improve the fishing. In the center of the cabin is a pine log that is 38 feet long. The outer logs used to build the cabin are also quite impressive. Imagine the hard work it took to haul in these massive logs and build this cabin, using mostly hand tools.
The cabin was completed on the day before Thanksgiving in 1913. Pulltite Cabin is open for your exploration. The National Park Service hopes to restore it to its former beauty.
Pulltite has many stories to tell, as do many of the places around the Ozark Riverways. Take the time to ask a ranger about the name of a place that catches your interest. Why "Jerk Tail," why "Troublesome Hollow," why "Powder Mill"? These stories are as old, and as fascinating, as the history of the land.