Peaceful town of Wiville in Woodruff County is home to "hidden" river

Written by: Tracy L. Crain
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Sunday, August, 2000

Located in the heart of east Arkansas, off of Arkansas 17, the community of Wiville sits peacefully.

In this quiet area that seems almost forgotten by the hands industry, there's no commerce-not even a post office. And, for the 10 or so residents of the town, there's only one way of life, and that is a life of simple farming.

The town is comprised of four modest houses, where hired farmers reside. To them, Wiville is a rustic, rural paradise--the kind of place where man, the land, and its natural resources share a common bond.

If anything is known about Wiville, it's that cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat and fish are farmed here and that Donald Cain of McCrory owns most of the natural resources, including the land.

The Woodruff County Historical Society describes Wiville as a part of Woodruff County, which was formed in 1862 after Arkansas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.

The Woodruff County area, including Wiville, encompasses land from both St. Francis and Jackson counties.

It's believed that Wiville first earned its named in the mid-1800s because the Rock Island Railroad branched off there and traveled to the west from the main line, which ran north and south of the town.

Since the community was so famous for its "Y" in the railroad line, the town became known as "Wiville."

Steven Young, a police officer for the Cotton Plant Police Department, was born in Wiville. He describes the area as "the community settled where the roads split."

Young has lived his entire life in the small communities of Woodruff County and has made a hobby of studying the history of the area.

"My dad was a farmer here, and that's what I did before I became a police officer," he said. "I love living in this county. That's why I enjoy studying the history of these small communities."

When it comes to Wiville today, Young says there's not much to know.

"There are a few houses and a handful of people who work the farms. Donald Cain also has a fish farm there," he said.

Young describes Wiville as the closet point to the center of the county. "It used to be a much larger community when the railroad was here. There were a lot of people who lived around here back then," he said. "Cotton was a very big crop in Wiville in 1950. Timber and hardwood tree crops were also farmed here at one time. I believe the community has changed a lot since then."

He continued, "They don't farm trees or cotton anymore."

In addition to its railroad and agricultural history, Wiville has another attraction known as the Cache River. Since Wiville is adjacent to the town of Cotton Plant, off of Arkansas 38, it provides convenient access to what Young describes as the Cache River Bottoms.

"There used to be a spur on the river at one time that people used to travel this area," he said.

Many of the area's first tourists visited Wiville as they traveled alongside the lowlands of the Cache River at the edge of the county according to the Woodruff County Historical Society. It seems the Cache River, which is French for "hidden" river, appealed to many of tourists because of its natural beauty.

"The town may change as far as industry and farming is concerned, but it will always be home to me," Young said. "I love it out here."

(Wiville 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.)