Sixty-Year-Old Paddle Boat Brings New Life To East Arkansas Town

A boat that has been sitting in a field behind a Springdale business for the last five years took a 200 mile road trip to the small town of Pocahontas, where locals hope the boat will bring in tourism.

Mikey Johnson was born and raised in Pocahontas and said he feels like it’s his generation’s duty to help his town grow.

“I just thought, I can do this, I don’t have to wait on somebody else I can do this,” Johnson said, “So I’m going to do this and it’s going to happen.”

Johnson served in the Marine Corps for five years and said he’s traveled the world and kept track of all the interesting attractions he’s seen.

“Every place I would go I would see something new and unique, and I would take that with me and would think, I wish I would have something at home like this,” Johnson said.

He said he was sitting at home one day when he had the idea to put a paddle boat on the Black River.

He got in touch with Springdale business owners David and Natasha Harris about an old paddle boat they had owned for a few years.

David Harris bought the 1952 paddle boat on E-Bay in Shreveport, LA for only $2500.

“It just spoke to me,” Harris said.

He shipped the boat back to Springdale where it has sat in the lot behind his business for several years.

He said he would give Johnson the boat for a one hundred dollar bill.

Johnson came to Springdale Friday morning from Pocahontas to get the sixty-three foot boat ready to haul back to his town.

Johnson said the boat does need a lot of work, and a local community college is using the boat as part of their curriculum to work on welding and mechanics.

Harris said he was happy the boat was going somewhere where people can enjoy it.

“I think it’ll be wonderful for them, and I hope one day that we can go and stand on the boat, see it float and maneuver…that’ll be a very proud day for me,” Harris said.

Johnson said the boat will be used as a living museum, for trips up and down the river, a place for weddings and a place to hold game nights. He said he also spoke to local restaurants about catering food on the boat as well.

He said he wants to name the boat the Black River Pearl after the town’s pearl industry in the 1900s, but that the community will vote on a name together.

Johnson said he hopes to have the boat in the water by this time next year.