Why You Should Plan a Trip to Wilson, Arkansas Now

Michelle Darrisaw,

How this small farming town is slowly becoming a cultural epicenter.

For well over a century, Wilson, Arkansas, the once-booming agrarian town was home to many families and sharecroppers. Established (and later incorporated in the 1950s) by Robert E. Lee Wilson in 1886—a pioneer affectionately known as “Boss Lee”—there’s never been a more productive company town in the South than Wilson. Lee Wilson had the vision to see how thousands of acres of wastelands could be transformed into farmlands and a vast timber, logging, and sawmill operation. In its heyday, Wilson was an agricultural and cotton-producing powerhouse, providing jobs to hundreds of laborers with every spin of the wheel.

Then the Great Depression happened, and the storied town’s prominent industry began to die, too, as residents left to find work. It’s been an uphill battle ever since to get Wilson back to its glory days as the once-proud Delta municipality, bearing the name of its founder. But thanks to new owner Gaylon Lawrence Jr. and town manager John Faulkner, Wilson is experiencing a resurgence, gradually recouping its reputation among its 900 residents and regaining its footing as a homey detour away from the neighboring city of Memphis, Tennessee.