Guion in Izard County is a community that works together, says resident

Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, January 14, 2001

Itís been described as fishermanís paradise located in the heart of the Ozarkís Mountains.

In a 1967 press release from the Arkansas Publicity and Parks Commission, Max Love, said, "It is without doubt the most delightful, most scenic, and the most friendly community in the state."

Guion, for all its attractions, is also home to a few celebrities like Jaydine Morton, who has been featured numerous times by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for her uncommon tales of southern small town living.

Although sheís too modest to admit it, Mortonís a celebrity in these parts and for a good many reasons. She has stories to share, like how the entire town set out after a missing cow one day.

She also knows about the economic and emotional impacts that storms, like the one that happened in 1929, affected the community. She even wrote a 35 page pamphlet on the "Storm of 1929" and sold copies to help raise money for Guionís local cemetery.

Copies of her pamphlet can be found at the Old Independence Library located in Guion.

"I was responsible for organizing the cemetery fund-raising event," Morton said. "I guess I just didnít know how to say no back then. We were very successful in our fundraising. We put the money we made into a fund account. Our goal was to earn $5,000, and we got it in less than two years."

To Morton, Guion is a community that works together. She also describes it as a type of paradise that has abundant amounts of rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. The fishing in the nearby White River, she says, is second to none.

"This place really has something different to offer," she said.

As do residents, like Morton. They create a different kind of ambience to this town.

Itís an atmosphere as such that made Joel Ruminer, a well-known Arkansas tap dancer, describe Guion as one of his favorite communities in the state.

When Guion was first settled in the early 1800s, it was known as a busy place. It was also considered to be one step ahead of the other towns.

"We were the first to have running water in the county," Morton said.

Guion was also known for its mining companies, the trucking industry and for merchandise transported into the area via boat and railway.

How Guion received its namesake is similar to other small towns that were built around the tracks of the railroad.

Morton said there are really two beliefs. One is that when trains came through Guion, the conductor would say "Go On," which sounds like "Guion."

The other belief, more commonly accepted, is that Guion was the name of a railroad worker.

Morton moved to this fishermanís hideaway in 1944, where her parents had lived previously. She can recall their stories of storms with great accuracy.

"It seemed to them that every time they moved back here, a disaster would occur in the month of April," she said. "Through it all, they somehow survived a storm and a flood, of which both occurred during the month of April in different years. Also, in April of another year, my brother fell off of one of the nearby bluffs."

When Mortonís parents lived here, most people came by way of boat. They would dock at what was known then as Wild Haw Landing. "This town was referenced under a lot of different names before the railroad worker named it Guion," she said.

When asked what makes this area so different, Morton offers the following explanation.

"I like the area because itís peaceful. You donít have a lot of traffic, and there are a lot of animals scurrying about the place, like birds and bald eagles."

Larry Morton, another resident of Guion, describes the area as beautiful, but scarce.

"Itís a nice place to live, but itís difficult if you need things," he said. "There are no restaurants or anything."

Perhaps, however, that is what makes this place so uncommon enough that it is one of the most written about communities in the area.

The Wall Street Journal as well as small town and local trade magazines have also written articles detailing the magic of this rural haven that offers only a few churches, a post office, a few small businesses and a sawmill to its population of 93.

"At the end of every September, we have a reunion here where all the old residents come back," Jaydine Morton said. "We are getting ready for our third one. Jack Arnold sang this past year and it was standing room only. The people here really like to come back home."

(Guion is an excerpt from Road Trips; a weekly feature of small towns in Arkansas written by Tracy Crain and published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.)