By P.J. Tracy
A local resident, Jonathan Lance, has suggested the creation of a car, motorcycle and bicycle trail in homage to Pike County’s favorite son, Glen Campbell.
Presenting his plan in a written report to the Murfreesboro Advertising and Tourism Commission in July, he wrote that he believes the idea — which he named the “Ouachita Lineman Trail” in honor of Campbell’s hit “Wichita Lineman” — could be beneficial to the communities of Murfreesboro and Delight.
Lance is an employee at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.
The proposed trail would utilize existing roads in Pike County and cover some 31 miles.
“Many visitors to the diamond mine are unaware of Pike County’s connection to Glen Campbell … [also] recently I had a couple asking me where to go in the area for places associated with Campbell,” Lance wrote.
“I believe that providing a trail … would encourage more visitors to come who are interested in being active or who are looking for more things to do in Murfreesboro, Delight and Pike County.”
He adds that the inclusion of the trail might entice tourists to spend more time in the area, perhaps buying an extra meal or spending the night.
The proposed route would include a start at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, taking Highway 301 to Billstown, then to Delight and back to the Crater via Pisgah on Highway 195.
Lance said he suggested the roads as they are less traveled than the more straightforward Highways 26 and 27.
“I think that most of the proposed trail could be completed with signposts and having cyclists simply ride on the roads or on the shoulder of the roads. To my inexpert eye [he admits not traveling the proposed roads often] the roads appear to be in very good condition and the scenery along the roads is very pretty.”
However, for the portion of the trail on Highway 26 through Delight, he thinks perhaps something more should be done.
“[It] is quite busy, and I think that some accommodation (such as a bicycle lane through the town to the intersection with Highway 195) might need to be made to make this portion of the route safer for cyclists.”
He adds that optimally a bicycle trail could be built from the intersection of Billstown Road and Highway 26 entering Delight from the south would keep cyclists from having to enter the highway at that point.
“It might also be expedient to place a yellow caution light at that intersection [Billstown Road and Highway 26] for cars and motorcycles that might be turning,” Lance suggests.
He notes that the could have trailheads in both locations, including either the Crater or Pike County Courthouse in Murfreesboro and the Glen Campbell “Welcome” sign in Delight, to help ensure traffic into the towns.
“It would encourage visitors to stop in both communities … thus, both communities would stand to benefit financially from traffic along the route.”
He also states that the trail would include local landmarks such as Campbell’s gravesite in Billstown, as well as Japany Church and Cemetery where “Diamond” John Huddleston is buried. Other site would include the Billstown Church of Christ, where Campbell “received much of his early musical education and spiritual background,” and the Blue Mailbox “whose local significance many visitors would be fascinated to learn about,” providing locations for interpretive signage for travelers to read.
His proposal includes the fact that the Arkansas legislature passed Act 469 in 2019 that declared Highway 22 between Dardanelle and Fort Smith as the “True Grit Trail.”
Campbell, a star in the movie True Grit, which was based on Charles Portis’ novel by the same name.
“I think that a trail such as this one could be added to the preexisting “True Grit Trail” as a seperate southern leg, or at the very least, the two trails could be advertised in tandem with one another,” Lance suggests.
He said that promotion of the trail could be done in combination with other state musical attractions, including the Ozark Folk Center, Delta Heritage Center, Jonny Cash’s boyhood home and Walnut Ridge’s connection to the Beatles.
“It could also be promoted in list of motorcycle routes and biking trails.”