Johnny Cash Childhood Home in Dyess, Arkansas

 Without a good GPS, you might be hard-pressed to find Dyess Arkansas, population 400.

But people from around the world have found their way to this bump in the road in the Arkansas Delta long before Google Maps made it much easier.

And if you saw the 2005 movie “I Walk the Line” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, you’ve seen Dyess (pronounced Dice). Many early scenes from the movie were shot here at the childhood home of the Man In Black – Johnny Cash.

Dyess Arkansas Agriculture Colony

Johnny Cash Childhood home

Johnny Cash lived in this home from the time he was three years old until he left for the Army in 1951. Photo by Diana Lambdin Meyer

When the Cash family moved in in 1935, little J.R. was three years old and the house was brand new. Johnny’s biography says his momma cried when she walked into the house. It was the nicest place she had ever lived.

The Cashes were one of 500 families selected for a Depression-era project to re-energize the Arkansas agriculture industry. More than 2500 people lived in the Dyess Agriculture Colony at the time.

dyess colony historical signMost homes disappeared over time, but the Cash house survived, in part because locals knew it had once been home to the country music superstar. In April 2011, Arkansas State University purchased the rundown shack as a part of its Heritage Sites program.

Most visitors over the years saw the house in its deteriorated condition and left with the idea that that’s what the house looked like when the Cashes lived here.Through grants and private donations, ASU has spent $350,000 stabilizing the 900 square foot house and returning it to its original condition. Johnny’s younger siblings, Tommy and Joanne, served as consultants, donating many original items back to the house, which opened to the public in April 2014.

Johnny Cash’s Childhood Home in Arkansas

Johnny Cash Childhood homeFans from around the world have left notes on the fence with special memories of Johnny Cash.

“I saw you on tour many times and remain your biggest fan. Rest in Peace my friend,” writes one visitor from Cardiff Wales. Other notes have been left by travelers from Finland, Japan, Germany and Australia. A couple from Belgium wrote that they had twice been to Arkansas to see where the Man in Black had called home.

These will eventually be on display in the museum to be housed in the former Dyess Colony administration building, one of several buildings in the community to be rebuilt or restored in another phase of the community’s master plan.

The people at ASU are devoted to the idea of creating an interpretive experience that showcases this one-of-a-kind economic initiative in a unique period of American history. But this knowledge comes as an extra little bonus to fans who come primarily because of their passion for the man who work black “for the poor and the beaten down, Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town.”

A visit to his boyhood home in Dyess Arkansas helps you understand.

Dyess Arkansas Welcome sign  Johnny Cash high school

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