STATE PARK: Hampson State Park
Welcome to Hampson State Park
Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is located about 40 minutes north of West Memphis in the charming town of Wilson, Arkansas.
The 5-acre park houses a nationally renowned collection from the Nodena site, a 15-acre Native American village that once thrived on a horseshoe bend of the Mississippi River between 1400 and 1650 AD. This remarkable collection owes its preservation to the late Dr. James K. Hampson, an archeologist who began excavating the site in the 1920s.
As a boy, Hampson was fascinated by arrowheads and his interest in archaeology was rekindled when he returned to the family plantation to set up a successful medical practice. In 1927, he began a painstaking study of the physical remains of the people who inhabited the Nodena Site. Hampson and his family excavated and carefully documented portions of the Nodena Site. Their well-documented discoveries led to national recognition and major excavations by the University of Arkansas and the Alabama Museum of Natural History. The museum collection numbered over 40,000 artifacts when Hampson died on October 8, 1956.
The Hampson family donated the collection to the state and the museum was dedicated as a state park in 1961. In 1964 the Nodena Site was declared a National Historic Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
The state of the art facility was updated and expanded in 2018. Spread out over 8,500 square feet, the museum comfortably welcomes guests to view the amazing collection of objects and interpretive exhibits that shine a light on this ancient culture. It now provides visitors with many opportunities for hands on experiences as well as visually stunning displays. Additionally, the museum also has spaces for much more research to be performed on the collection.
Hampson Museum State Park also houses one of the nation’s premier Late Mississippian Period ceramic vessel collections known to exist. Local backswamp clays were used in the elaborate pottery vessels the Mississippian culture has become known for, including the beautiful type-site pottery—Nodena Red and White.
The park offers a tree shaded picnic area and there is a playground about a block away. While you're in Wilson, take a stroll around the town square and make sure you visit the Wilson Cafe for lunch. If you can't make the drive, take a tour of the virtual museum of 3D artifacts, which features 440 digital objects from collections at Hampson State Park and was the first of its kind to make a large collection of 3D digital objects publicly accessible.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Hampson Archeological Museum State Park and we encourage you to get out and experience The Natural State! For more information on the park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com and make sure you follow Arkie Travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more Arkansas adventures