Create your own Cultural Tour of the Upper Delta
This month’s Discover Arkansas encourages readers to create their own Arkansas experience. Here are some suggestions of locations to visit in the Upper Delta to learn more about the region’s culture and heritage. Plan to visit a few or all of them for your customized tour of northeastern Arkansas.
- Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott shines the light on one of America’s adventurous writers, Ernest Hemingway. It was the family home of his second wife, Pauline. The Pfeiffers converted a barn to give their son-in-law a writing space while visiting. He wrote portions of “A Farewell to Arms” and several short stories while staying in Piggott.
- Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson tells the important story of exhibits a nationally renowned collection from the Nodena site, a 15-acre palisaded village that once thrived on the Mississippi River. Hampson Archeological Museum interprets the lifestyles of this farming-based civilization that lived there from A.D. 1400 to 1650. The park’s collection includes a one-of-a-kind, priceless head pot from the Nodena civilization.
- Sultana Disaster Museum in Marion tells the story of America’s worst maritime disaster…the sinking of the SS Sultana on April 27, 1865. it’s the only museum dedicated to America’s deadliest maritime disaster. The Sultana Disaster Museum tells a story that most people do not know, the explosion of the Sultana, which took place on the Mississippi River in April 1865. On the early morning of April 27, 1865, the SS Sultana exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing nearly 1,800 of the nearly 2,400 passengers onboard. Many of those were former Union soldiers, on their way home following the end of the Civil War.
- The Delta Gateway Museum in Blytheville is housed in the Art Deco-style Kress Building in Blytheville’s downtown historic district. The history and heritage museum introduces broad historical themes for one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions and offers temporary and long-term exhibits.
- Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza is located in the first unofficial headquarters of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.The museum focuses on the farm labor movement, tenant farming and share-cropping systems. Stories told through historic photographs, artifacts related to tenant farming, oral history, 1930s newsreel footage and interactive exhibits, including interviews with former union leaders.
- The Randolph County Heritage Museum is located within the downtown historic district of Pocahontas and tells the amazing story of the history of the county, home to many of Arkansas's "firsts," including the first post office and first courthouse.
- Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro tells the story of the unique ridge that traverses the Arkansas segment of the Mississippi Delta with indoor and outdoor exhibits, films and trails. The nature center joins nearby Craighead Forest Park through three distinct walking/hiking trails.
- The “Lucille” marker in Twist. We can’t talk about the cultural and heritage of the Arkansas Delta without discussing the importance that music has played in the region. Check out the spot where B.B. King “saved” his beloved guitar and why he named her “Lucille!”
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Highway 67 Museum in Newport chronicles the musicians that traveled the area as they were becoming legends. Vintage photos and memorabilia from the clubs along Highway 67 are featured in the museum.
- The Guitar Walk in Walnut Ridge honors many of the Arkansas musicians that played along historic Highway 67.
- Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess is a must-visit for music lovers. The Cash family moved to Dyess when J.R. (later to become internationally as Johnny) was a mere three-years-old. It includes the Cash home as well as the Dyess Colony Administration Building, centerpiece for one of the nation’s agricultural resettlement colonies under the New Deal. The Cash home is furnished as it appeared when the Cash family lived there, while the Administration Building includes exhibits about the colony and the impact of Dyess on Cash and his music. The Visitors Center opened in the re-created Dyess Theatre and Pop Shop that once stood adjacent to the restored Dyess Colony Administration Building.