The quaint Ozark Mountain town of Leslie is a treasure all its own. Restored old buildings give Leslie a character that few American towns possess today. This town of less than 500 residents harkens back to a bygone era of Americana. Homesteaded by pioneers moving West from the Appalachians, Leslie was first surveyed by Herbert Hoover in the last part of the 19th century. The Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad once came through Leslie. A railroad spur, the Dinky Line, once hauled mighty white oak timber from the hills to the world’s largest barrel making factory that turned out up to 4,500 barrels a day. The railroad and barrel factory are now relegated to the pages of history, but the town still thrives.
Today Leslie is the crossroads for tourist traffic going to and from Mountain View
, the “Folk Music Capital of the World.” Leslie is home to antique stores, shops, multiple parks, restaurants and a wood-fired brick oven that produces Old World Sourdough Bread. It also is the music epicenter of Searcy County with multiple music venues featuring country, gospel, rock, and rhythm and blues. One of those venues, the Ozark Heritage Arts Center
, is located in a building constructed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. It was used as a gymnasium by the Leslie school system for many years. Today the arts center seats approximately 350 people in its Killebrew Theatre, and in addition to hosting bands is occasionally used for musicals and plays. The facility also hosts an art gallery and a museum. Leslie is not just another cookie cutter modern American town, it’s a place to slow down and soak up some of the best of our nation’s past.