Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Delta Cultural Center
Helena, Arkansas like so many Mississippi delta towns has seen better days. We asked around town and didn’t get a definitive answer about what happened but it seems like it was just a slow progression of declining river and rail traffic, the mechanization of cotton growing, and factories closing that turned downtown Helena into an eerily quiet, semi ghost town. Most of the businesses are closed. Many of the buildings have been torn down or boarded up. Some still standing have lost walls and roofs. There’s a huge cotton gin on the south edge, closed but not boarded up so we wandered along the streets, marveling at the size of the place.
The one bright spot is the south end of Cherry Street where the Delta Cultural Center in the Depot and Delta Cultural Center Visitors Center are located. The Depot has exhibits about Native Americans, sharecroppers, and the Civil War. The Visitor Center is the home of King Biscuit Time, the longest running blues radio show in the US. The first broadcast was in 1941 and there’s a show every weekday from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. The Center also has exhibits about slavery and the influence of African instruments in southern music.
The Depot has an accessible entrance with a ramp but the door is kept locked so call ahead or have a member of your party alert the staff. The Visitor Center is accessible. A steep short walkway leads to a view of the Mississippi . Most of the sidewalks are in good condition and there is so little traffic that rolling down the street is fine.
The parking lot at the Depot is large enough for any RV. Center 34.52245, -90.58598