When traveling through northeastern Arkansas, it would seem shameful to bypass I-55’s exit to Dyess, the small delta town whose native son was none other than The Man in Black, Johnny Cash.
So, even though exhaustion was beginning to set in as the time in the car had reached almost twelve hours, and the River Valley was calling our name, we decided to stop and pay homage to this legendary figure of the American Music Industry.
Our GPS took us to the Historic Dyess Colony Visitor Center, which was closed for Memorial Day. We had heard that his boyhood home had recently been restored, and, a second internet search led us down a gravel road. There, surrounded by fields of what looked like soybeans, was a tiny white house, the humble beginnings for this eleven time Grammy Award Winner.
Cash’s boyhood home was enclosed by a six foot chain link fence, I would assume to deter any potential thoughts of vandalism. So, we spent a moment or two admiring it from afar.
In desperate need of repair, the property was purchased in 2011 by Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Funded by grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, a restoration project was undertaken and completed in 2014. The house opened for tours in 2015.
The tours begin at the Dyess Administration Building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday thru Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students. According to the Historic Dyess Colony website,
” The Dyess Colony Administration Building houses exhibits related to establishment of the colony, lifestyles of typical colonists, and the impact that growing up in Dyess had on Johnny Cash and his music. The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home is furnished as it appeared when the Cash family lived there.”
I was a little bummed that tours were unavailable that day, but now we at least know how to get there – and we definitely plan to return!
Directions: From Blytheville, go I-55 South. Take exit 41 and turn right on Arkansas Highway 14. Go 5.6 miles, then turn left on Highway 297. At 0.6 miles, turn right onto Center Drive. The building will be on the right.