Backroad Travels: Arkansas ‘company town’ thriving where others fade

Daniel Rubio,

WILSON, Ark. — Just 45 minutes from downtown Memphis lies a small former “company town” in the Arkansas Delta that is investing in its future when so many others are slowly decaying.

Wilson, with its distinctive Tudor-inspired town square, has a rich history of being a small town with a big vision. The town was founded and named after the cotton farmer Robert E. Lee Wilson, more commonly known as “Boss Lee” of the Wilson Company in 1886.

The Wilson family owned the town for more than 125 years, but in 2014 billionaire investor Gaylon Lawrence Jr. purchased the town in hopes of revitalizing it into a hub of art, culture, education, food, history, and agriculture.

Just four years later those in the town are beginning to see the future of what some say is worth checking out.

“It’s a real anomaly in the world, much less in the Delta,” said Joe Cartwright of Wilson Cafe.