Wilson, Arkansas: How Geography Shapes a Place

March 15, 2017

By Talya Tate Boerner

Grace, Grits and Gardening 

(Images: Talya Tate Boerner)

I’ve been thinking about how geography shapes a place. Not only the physical landscape, which often determines the direction a town grows (nestled within a valley or spread across the flat prairie), but also the way geography shapes the culture of a place. Over time, geographic location has certainly played a significant role in the culture of Wilson, Arkansas. From Mississippi River swampland to cotton empire to Delta town of the present, Wilson is distinctive in part because of the very landscape surrounding it.

Consider the Music.

If a highway can affect culture, Highway 61 has certainly played a role in the small towns scattered throughout the Delta. Also known as the Great River Road, this American byway passes through downtown Wilson, paving the area in blues history. Many of our country’s greatest musicians played juke joints all throughout northeast Arkansas including a few miles north in Osceola and south to Twist.

B. B. King christened his guitar Lucille in Twist after a fight over a woman and a fire that left its mark in Delta history.

There’s no denying the Delta has long been a hotbed of passion and inspiration. My theory? The rural, pancake-flat landscape of northeast Arkansas lends itself to creativity. When one lives in a setting pulled straight from the pages of a Flannery O’Conner novel, the mind is free to wander and dream with no boundaries.

That’s a mighty far distance.

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Wilson, Arkansas: How Geography Shapes a Place