A “Walks Through History” tours is coming to Helena-West Helena – the Cherry Street Historic District to be specific – on Saturday, April 13. Sponsored by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the tour will begin at 1:30 p.m.
The announcement was made Monday by AHPP Director Frances McSwain.
The Phillips County seat of Helena was an important stop for steamboats travelling on the Mississippi River between Memphis and Vicksburg, Miss. during the early to mid-19th century. The community flourished and by 1860, just prior to the Civil War, Helena was the largest Arkansas town on the Mississippi River.
In July 1862, the Union Army led by Maj. Gen. Samuel Curtis took control of Helena. The Battle of Helena took place on July 4, 1863. It turned out to be a devastating loss for the Confederacy. Helena remained under Union control for the remainder of the war.
Fast forward to 1941 when Radio Station KFFA 1360 AM first broadcast “King Biscuit Time.” It became the longest running daily blues radio program in the country. Original host Sonny “Sunshine” Payne still broadcasts the show daily from the Delta Cultural Center.
The DCC is co-sponsoring the walking tour. The tour will begin at the Cherry Street Pavilion at the northeast corner of cherry and Missouri streets. The tour is being held jointly with the Arkansas Historical Association Conference.
As part of the “Walks Through History” program, each month Arkansas AHPP historians provide free guided walking tours of historical structures and districts across the state.