Legacy of John Cooper, Sr., Community Founder
John Cooper, Sr., a prominent businessman and lawyer from West Memphis, Arkansas, cherished time spent vacationing with his family along South Fork River not far from Hardy. It was here that Cooper first dreamed of creating a community where other families could enjoy the streams and natural beauty of the Ozark hills not just during the summer but year-round.
Cooper established Cherokee Village in 1954 to become Arkansas’ first planned recreational community, and one of the first of its kind in the nation. During the next decades the Village grew to encompass more than 13,000 acres featuring seven man-made lakes, two 18-hole championship golf courses, three recreational centers, more than 30 parks, fire protection, utilities, a commercial town center, 7 churches, 100 clubs & organizations, and more than 300 miles of roads.
Our Heritage as a Summer Camp & Retreat Destination
For more than 100 years, families and summer campers have been coming to these rivers and hills to retreat and spend time in nature.
As South Fork River leaves Cherokee Village it joins Spring River and flows through Hardy, a railroad town established in 1883. During the early 1900’s Hardy became a popular destination for Memphis, Tennessee families who retreated to the river for summer and to popular destinations like Whapeton Hill, home to many summer cottages. Businessmen would bring their families here for the summer and would commute during the week back to work in Memphis.
In 1916, the Memphis Council’s boy scout camp (Kia Kima) was founded along the banks of the South Fork River in what is now Cherokee Village.
Thunderbird Lodge at Old Kia Kima Camp