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.
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   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.
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   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


  1. So sad how these Delta cities in Arkansas are so run down...just how far are you going (or have gone) in Arkansas?

    1. We just got to Little Rock. Arkansas wasn't in our plans but it's still too cold to head north so we'll hang out here for a week or so then go to Hot Springs. Hopefully spring will arrive in the north soon and tornadoes won't get us while we're in Arkansas. :-D

      Any suggestions while we're here?

  2. Seeing a town boarded up is a sad sight. A few years back I drove from Rockport TX to Iowa by the small roads. There were several Texas towns like that, fine looking brick buildings with plywood over the openings..

    1. Yes, there are a lot of small towns built along the rail lines that died when people gave up their farms and ranches and moved to the big cities. Helena struck us though because the downtown was large and apparently thriving at one time. Port Arthur in Texas gave us the same eerie feeling. Block after block of abandoned multi-story buildings. The oil crash of the 1980s got the city and it never recovered.