Motorcycling in the Ozarks

By Nick Wilson, Photography by Nick Wilson

From the June 1935 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

No doubt most of our readers have taken a slant at that humorous story entitled “Through Arkansas on a Slow Train,” but it remained for the Mid-South Motorcycle Club, of Memphis, to shift the scene to one viewed from the seats of their swift 74’s.

With this balmy spring weather getting under their hides, they decided one fine day in April that a week-end jaunt was the only thing that would afford relief, and it was soon agreed that Arkansas, “The Wonder State,” presented the most interesting route for the moment. True, some of the roads were still under water from the recent deluge and swollen streams, but why worry over a 50-mile detour, with the Ozarks beckoning in the distance? As a matter of fact, distance appealed to them largely, with the awakening of Spring, and all being of one mind on a matter of this kind, assured its success.

After crossing the Harahan Bridge, which spans “Ole Man River” at Memphis, with a few miles more traversing the new and thriving little city of West Memphis, they were off!

The hum of their motors, with the accompaniment of the squawking frogs from the bayous that lay on either side of the road, was music to their ears as they sped westward through the lowlands natural to this part of Arkansas. A boy on a motorcycle (to say nothing of the girl in the seat behind him) experiences a mental uplift, a buoyancy of spirit, that at once puts to flight “the cares that infest the day”; the worries of business are forgotten, and nothing matters except his motorcycle. This is the relaxation that so many city dwellers seek, in vain, and can be found only astride a motorcycle.

The distance from Memphis to Forrest City was soon covered. All dismounted to refill their gas tanks and take some liquid refreshments. Forrest City is in the center of the Crowley Ridge country, famed for its Elberta peaches, and hundreds of cars of these delicious peaches are shipped annually from this and nearby points.

With no mishap worthy of note, their next stop of consequence was Augusta, a quaint little old city, situated on White River about midway between Memphis and Little Rock, and still bears an atmosphere of antebellum days, with its many spacious old homes, constructed during the era when Cotton was really King in that section.

But you may be asking what is to be the ultimate destination of this caravan of some twenty motorcycles, only that number of the club members being fortunate enough to join in. To the wilds of the Arkansas Ozarks they are speeding, with headquarters to be established at Heber Springs. This is the county seat of Cleburne County, and while the many attractions of this town have never been heralded far and wide, it is to be noted that it is quite a health resort. We mention this as being its most outstanding attraction. Within its corporate limits are nine mineral springs, the water from each possessing its own particular curative properties. As evidence that this is no fiction, you will find gathered around these springs people from every part of Arkansas, as well as from neighboring states, imbibing freely of the life-giving waters. And it is noteworthy that some wonderful cures have been effected. These springs are situated within a lovely little park of about ten acres, in which a great many of the natural forest trees have been saved, and the ladies of the town have spent considerable money and labor beautifying it in many ways, making it attractive to the tourist as well as to those seeking to regain their health. It may be added that these waters are as free as the air to any who may take the trouble to journey there and be healed.

By Nick Wilson
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