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Northeast Dyess Lepanto Marked Tree Wilson
Northeast Travel 5

Arkansas Delta Road Trip: Marked Tree To Wilson


The Arkansas Delta is a unique mix of the farmland and the untouched bottomland that once filled most of the eastern part of the state. As the land changed, so did the people who have made the Delta their home since the early 1900s.

Famous authors and musicians were influenced by the delta in poignant ways, leading them to write and sing about the often-heartbreaking land that seemed to take more than it gave in return.

This journey is a short one at only 28 miles from point A to point B. But it’s full of treasures. I invite you to drink in the rich history of the Arkansas Delta area between Marked Tree and Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Marked Tree

Singer Forest Natural Area – Although primarily used for hunting, the Singer Forest Natural Area will be of interest to anyone interested in Arkansas’s physiological history. The land in this area is a mix of bottomland hardwood and swampy areas. It’s a pristine example of what much of Arkansas once looked like.

St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA – During the New Madrid Earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, the area of land known as the Sunken Lands actually shifted and sank and was flooded with water from the St. Francis River.

Marked Tree Siphons – When the government opened the Sunken Lands for homesteading in 1908, the need to make the land more habitable became necessary. Built in 1939, the siphons move water over a levee and deposit it into a channel on the other side. The project is an important part of the St. Francis River Basin Flood Control Project. The siphons, along with a now-defunct lock, were added to the ​​National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Both are accessible to the public.

Sunken Lands Water Trail – The newest water trail in Arkansas was dedicated in October of 2020. The best place to access the trail is at the Oak Donnick Access, about 20 miles away in Trumann.

Marked Tree Delta Area Museum
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Marked Tree Delta Area Museum – The museum began in 1992 but moved into its permanent location in 1997. The galleries celebrate the development of the area and include a wide selection of local artifacts. It’s a real tribute to Marked Tree and the surrounding area.

Marked Tree Eats

Manda’s Poinsett Cafe – If you pass through the area during lunch on weekdays, stop in at the Poinsett Cafe for a tasty burger.

Walker’s Dairy Freeze – Stop in for one of the tastiest milkshakes or ice cream treats you have ever tasted.


Lepanto Mural – Commissioned in 1991, the mural located at the ​​intersection of Highways 135 and 40 marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The Painted HouseJohn Grisham is one of Arkansas’s most well-known authors, and his book The Painted House is a recreation of the life of a sharecropper family in the Arkansas Delta in the early 1950s. Lepanto is the setting of the film based on the book. And the home featured in the film is now available for tours.

Fat Daddy’s BBQ – Follow the smell of smoked meats to Fat Daddy’s and enjoy a tasty pulled pork sandwich with slaw. Their hours vary, so we recommend calling before you head out.
317 Greenwood Ave.,
Lepanto, AR 72354
(870) 475-3537

Better Outdoors Archery Pro Shop – Whether you are looking for the best gear and accessories for the upcoming hunting season or need your bow tuned up, Better Outdoors is the place.


Historic Dyess Colony – Established in 1934 as part of the New Deal, Dyess was known as ​​“Colonization Project No. 1.” This agricultural resettlement colony has a wagon-wheel design in which a town center stood in the middle surrounded by more than 500 farmsteads of 20-plus-acres, a 3-5-bedroom home, barn and other necessary buildings. Qualifying families relocated to the area from every county in Arkansas. Only a handful of the original homes remain. But restoration continues in the town center to bring back to life a piece of this rich history.

Arkansas Delta: Johnny Cash's boyhood home in Dyess

Johnny Cash Boyhood HomeJohnny Cash is one of the most influential and successful musicians of all time, but his humble beginnings were in the small community of Dyess. His boyhood home still stands fully furnished as it would have been when the Cash family lived there.

Johnny Cash Heritage Festival – Organized in part by Johnny Cash’s children Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash, the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival is a musical celebration and festival that serves as the primary fundraiser for restoring the Dyess Community. The festival typically takes place each fall but was a virtual concert in 2021. In 2022 the festival was changed to the Arkansas Roots Music Festival. More information can be found on the Facebook Page.

Wilson Cafe on the road trip through the Arkansas Delta
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism


White’s Mercantile – If you are looking for a store that exudes southern charm, look no further than White’s Mercantile. The expertly curated selection of merchandise is the brainchild of country singer Holly Wiliams, daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. Stop in for the perfect gift for a friend or a treat for yourself. We guarantee you won’t walk away empty-handed.

The Grange – Considered an agricultural and culinary venue, the Grange is home to various unique events that celebrate the arts and local culture. The Grange hosts everything from art classes to fitness events and farmer’s markets to fine dining.

Wilson Cafe – Stop by the gorgeous cafe for a meal that’s reminiscent of quintessential homestyle southern cuisine with a gourmet twist. Chef Roberto goes above and beyond to create a delectable menu and goes miles above what you would find in any other restaurant, inside or out of the Arkansas Delta.

Hampson Archaeological State Park – The state park museum is home to a well-known collection of artifacts from the Nodena site. The farming-based civilization lived in what is now Mississippi County from 1400 to 1650. Enjoy the exhibits and add a stamp to your Arkansas State Parks passport.

This 28-mile track is a testament to the abundant history that took place in the Arkansas Delta Region. Which stop is your favorite?

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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5 responses to “Arkansas Delta Road Trip: Marked Tree To Wilson”

  1. Kay Simpson says:

    You should check out the Delta school in Wilson. It’s very unique!!

  2. Homer Craig says:

    You should have included Rivervale. Place where one river crosses under another.

  3. Ralph L Walker, Jr says:

    Did you see the Indian Mound between MT and Lepanto? It’s straight ahead at the second curve in Hwy 140 before the Red Oak Church. Covered with trees in summer, easier to see in winter. Protected by ASU

  4. musicpilgrimer.com says:

    Great article….Saving this one to my bucket list. Thanks for posting.


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