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story.lead_photo.caption Historical re-enactments are one way to time travel in Arkansas, as here in a scene from the past at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.

It's time travel time.

Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role) gets around in his current movie release, including that he gets around the ordinary rules of time and space.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
TV’s The Flash (Grant Gustin in his zippy outfit) often finds that time travel leads to trouble, or as it sometimes pays a speedster to remind himself: Don’t be too quick.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
Doctor Who (Peter Capaldi) can turn up anywhere, any time, thanks to his time- and space-traveling abilities. The British television Timelord has been having a time of it since 1963.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
The Time Tunnel left broadcast television in 1967, only to emerge on home video for today’s viewing — a time trip of almost 50 years.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
Seconds count as Guy Pearce pulls the lever that sends him to the future in the 2002 remake of The Time Machine.

Hours and hours of this fall season's TV shows and movies-to-come are based on the way-back idea of slipping through history or straight on to tomorrow.

"Time has become one of TV's most trusted tropes," according to The Hollywood Reporter. New series include Timeless on the NBC network, Frequency on The CW, Time After Time coming to ABC, and Making History en route to Fox.

But while these travelers scramble to board time machines, going back in time is easier in Arkansas. Television's time-warpers plunge into wormholes and "temporal anomalies," as Star Trek: The Next Generation's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard would say, but Arkansans need only to look around.

Time travel through Arkansas works more like in Jack Finney's science-fiction classic, Time and Again (1970). Finney writes about a man who goes back to New York, 1882, just by convincing himself that's where he is.

He works this trick by surrounding himself with 19th-century fashions and settings -- props that belong to the past he wants to visit. Immersed in old-time stuff, he embarks on "the greatest adventure any human being ever had."

Arkansas has many such places to go back in history the same way: events, museums and state parks that evoke the past so vividly, they guarantee time travel is possible.

• ''Travel back in time as you encounter living history performers portraying original residents," is the website promise at Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Exhibits include "A Diamond in the Rough: 75 Years of Historic Arkansas Museum," detailing how the collection grew from a dilapidated neighborhood of historic houses. More information is available at, or by calling (501) 324-9351.

• "Travel back to the 19th century," is the claim at Historic Washington State Park near Hope. Knife-making students learn how to temper a blade today, and the park's annual Christmas candlelight tours will be Dec. 3 and 10. More information is available at, or by calling (870) 983-2684.

• "An adventure in yesterday's Ozark way of life," is the time-tripping prospect at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View. Thanksgiving Day, Nov.

24, events include Craft Village shopping and a turkey buffet at the park's Skillet Restaurant. More information is available at, or by calling (870) 269-3851.

• And for even deeper immersion: The Buckstaff Bath House in Hot Springs offers "the same waters and treatments" as in 1912. The Buckstaff is the oldest soak on Bath House Row. The Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau cites this and other places to find a tub at, or by calling (501) 321-2835.


"Nowadays, we voyage through time so easily in our dreams and in our art," as science journalist James Gleick writes in Time Travel: A History, new from Pantheon Books. Gleick credits today's idea of time travel to H.G. Wells in his 1895 novel, The Time Machine.

Time had been puzzling even the greatest thinkers since ancient times. In fact, the Greek philosopher Aristotle nearly beat Wells to the brass ring.

"What is eternal is circular," according to Aristotle, "and what is circular is eternal": so close to imagining time as something to ride on, a merry-go-round.

The scientists of Wells' day understood the dimensions of height, width and depth in the way that a cardboard box demonstrates all three. They imagined time must be some other sort of dimension.

"When I speak of time, I'm speaking of the fourth dimension," Rod Taylor (as Wells) attempts to explain as the time-traveler in director George Pal's 196o movie version of The Time Machine.

But what could it be, this fourth dimension? Maybe a catch-all for everything else that couldn't be explained -- like a shadow-draped closet in which to keep other ooky imponderables, such as extra-sensory perception.

Wells came up with the machine as an actual thing, like a bicycle, Gleick writes -- and time as real as a road that could be traveled back and forth.

Arkansas is crisscrossed with just such roads that lead to places where the past can be rediscovered, or never went away:

• Arkansas 154 up Petit Jean Mountain is the way to the annual Mountain Rendezvous, Friday through Nov. 27 at Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton. Re-enactors demonstrate the frontier skills of muzzle-loader rifle firing and tomahawk throwing. More information is available at, or by calling (501) 727-5441.

• Interstate 540 arrives at Van Buren, where the annual "Living Windows" Christmas celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Downtown merchants depict the town's history in store-window displays. More information is available at,or by calling (800) 332-5889.

• U.S. 62 goes to Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Northwest Arkansas, scene of the Battle of Prairie Grove Civil War re-enactment Dec. 3-4. More information is available at, or by calling (479) 846-2990.

• 62 also twisty-turns northeast to Eureka Springs and the Crescent Hotel, where some of the checkouts are said to have stayed on -- as ghosts lingering from the hotel's 130-year-old past. Ghost tours are available at, or by calling (877) 342-9766.


Time travel hardly could be more real than it already is in people's minds. Who doesn't take a flight to the past every now and then?

The time machine makes possible a kind of thinking that might not have occurred to a Roman centurian -- or to the prehistoric Indians who built the dirt structures at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park east of Little Rock. More information is available at, or by calling (501) 961-9442.

Without such a clear way to think about going back in time, it might be hard to feel nostalgic. But the yearning for a better past is everywhere these nostalgic days:

In fashion: the retro looks of polka dots, headbands, ponchos and men's suspenders.

In beer, even: Coors, "Brewed in Colorado before it was Colorado."

• And in music: "Ladies and Gentlemen: The Beatles!," an exhibit of 1960s Beatlemania through April 2 at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. More information is available at, or by calling (501) 374-4242.


Make time, as well, for cable television's Outlander series on Starz, and Stephen King's 11.22.63 on Hulu -- back to 1743 Scotland, and back to 1963 Dallas to stop the Kennedy assassination.

Two of The CW's other TV series, The Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow, also feature time-travelers. So many, it's practically time for who but the BBC's Doctor Who to take over traffic control.

Only the time-and-space-spanning Doctor Who could prevent the red-suited Flash from running a red light and colliding with Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch is the movie screen's new incarnation of the Marvel Comics wizard, able to bend time and reality.

Movies to come will keep the trend ticking well into the future. Transformers director Michael Bay will find time for Time Salvager, Wesley Chu's novel about a time-traipsing treasure hunter, according to sources that include the book's publisher.

• Arkansas has just the place to dig: Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro. Chu's time raider wouldn't even have to sneak in. Visitors are invited to keep what they find, most recently a 48-point bit of glitter from way back in the planet's history. More information is available at, or by calling (870) 285-3113.


Travel to the future is a dicier proposition.

Science fiction used to imagine daring spacemen and sveltly-suited spacewomen having galactic good times in a trouble-free tomorrow. But the genre turned gloomy -- soured on visions of monstrous technology and blighted landscapes. Even the Tomorrowland rocket-to-the-moon at Disneyland went away.

Writer Pat Cadigan sums up today's state of the future in the current issue of the science-fiction trade journal, Locus. Forget about flying cars, she says: "We promised you a dark technological dystopia. How do you like it?"

Luckily, Arkansas has means of escape without running to the exits in either direction, past or future, but right here and now.

• Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. "The Art of American Dance " is the current exhibit, through Jan. 16. More information is available at, or by calling (479) 418-5700.

• Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs. Millions of lights twinkle the wooded acres through Dec. 31. More information is available at, or by calling (501) 262-9300.

• And at the movies: Shut In, with Naomi Watts as a woman who stays put.

Style on 11/20/2016

Print Headline: Backward glances


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