Historic Turner Bend
The Turner Bend store , which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011 has a history as charming and unpredictable as the Mulberry River itself.
A timeline of history:
- Osage Indians occupy Mulberry River Valley
- Cherokee Indians use property after Louisiana Purchase
- 1st Turner clan came from Tennessee in 1830
- Elias Turner arrived in 1848. Elias served in the Confederate Army and later was a member of the 1879 Arkansas Legislature
- 1900 the first bridge was built across the Mulberry River
- 1911 William Eli Turner built a store at the south end of the original bridge
- 1935-36 the new Mulberry River Bridge was built and the 1st store burned
- Turner family built another store just south of the present location
- Champ Turner and his sister opened the new store during CC camp days
- 1939 Champ married Flora Coleman and took over operation of the store
- Champ joined the army during WWII and they closed the store. Flora and Champ moved to different Army bases and had two children, Gary & Lonnie.
- 1946 Champ left the Army and he and Flora reopened the store. Their 3rd son, Paul was born in 1947.
- 1950 Champ bought an old house in Cass, tore it down and built a bedroom and bathroom on the back of the store
- 1950’s people began canoeing the Mulberry River
- Champ and Flora continued to operate the store until 1978 when Champ died of cancer
- 1980 the Mulberry River was classified as a “navigable” river
- 1981 Brad Wimberly bought Turner Bend from the Turner family. Wimberly moved into the back of the old store and started renting canoes.
- 1986-1987 Wimberly built the existing store. Campground expansion, cabin rentals, and further improvements follow.
Review of the Turner Bend Store sandwiches
For nearly 31 years, the little store on Arkansas 23 has taken a simple approach to feeding all comers. This is not the peanut-butter-on-bread version Mom used to put in your lunch box.
Pick your bread, meat, cheese and toppings and they’ll pile it on to make a Sammie. Want something more on your personalized lunch? Just ask. An assortment of off-menu additions, including spicy mustard, jalapenos or ranch dressing, hide under the counter – and for less money than most fast-food restaurants (of which there are none within miles). There are lots of reasons to show up hungry at Turner Bend Store, but there’s no excuse for leaving that way.
Excerpts by Dan Craft, March 2, 2012