Ozarks Life: The case of Eureka Springs’ Black Dog

This dog has been missing since the early 1900s.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:22 AM CST
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EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KY3) - It’s always great to see people come together to help find a lost pet.

In the shadow of the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs, there are dogs everywhere. But this park is the last place a beloved black dog named Black Dog was seen.

“We’ve been looking for him for a long time,” Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry said. “And we haven’t had any solid leads.”

Black Dog was last seen in the early 1900s. The bad news, he’s not alive. The good news, he never was.

“It’s a heavy object; obviously a cast iron,” Berry said.

This is the tale of Black Dog the statue. As for why it called the park home, well, there’s no official record but a few theories.

“They may have found this dog in a catalog and ordered it because of the Chief Black Dog,” Berry said.

Chief Black Dog was an Osage. Legend says he helped form the basin to contain the healing waters of Eureka Springs.

Another possibility, someone just liked dogs.

Pictures from as far back as 1884 show him perched above the park in front of the old Southern Hotel. And later, showcased on a pedestal in front of the opening to the basin which is under the park.

Yes, the pictures from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum show Black Dog was a prominent part of the park. But the last known picture is from 1907. No one knows where it was taken. He’s in front of a staircase with a gate and many women.

“I have no idea why (someone would have) taken him,” Berry said. “Just why it would be moved?”

Today, the Black Dog pedestal showcases a marble statue honoring those lost in World War I. The Doughboy has been stationed here for almost a century.

“A lot of rumors that somebody took (Black Dog) and it may be in somebody’s backyard up in Springfield,” Berry said. “Then a friend of mine and I discussed that it may have been just picked up for salvage during one of the World War drives and melted down. Hopefully, that never happened. Hopefully, it’s still out there.”

And that’s the hope of others in Eureka Springs: bring Black Dog back. And surround him with other relics of years past.

In front of the band stage, there used to be an Onyx Stone with a square plaque. The plaque is for the United Spanish War veterans. The rock is now gone, but that plaque is currently on the back of the Doughboy statue - which we’ve already learned honors soldiers of a different war.

To its north, there used to be a military canon on the park wall.

“The park has changed over the years,” Berry said. “But I think part of what we’d like to see is put it back together into an original configuration.”

There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Black Dog. You can reach out to Mayor Butch Berry at the Eureka Springs City Hall at (479) 253-9703.

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