“Arkansas Traveler” originally referred to a tune, a dialogue, or a painting, all of which date from the mid-nineteenth century. The tune and the dialogue or skit had their origins around 1840 when Colonel Sanford Faulkner got lost in rural Arkansas, stopped to ask directions at a local squatter's home, and subsequently started performing a dialogue and fiddle tune called “The Arkansas Traveler” based on the experience.
In 1856, Arkansas artist Edward Payson Washbourne painted a picture based on the meeting between the Traveler and the Squatter (see accompanying illustration). Washbbourne later painted a second picture called "The Turn of the Tune," depicting the Traveler entertaining the Squatter by playing his fiddle.
The image of the Arkansas Traveler also spawned a humorous newspaper by that name, founded in 1882. The Traveler, in print and in humorous performance, came to perpetuate a negative, “hillbilly” image of Arkansas and, by extension, the Ozarks.
From 1949 to 1963, "The Arkansas Traveler" was the official state song of Arkansas. The negative stereotype might have had something to do with the decision to drop the song as the state's official song, although I don't know that for sure. The song is now designated as the state's official historical song.
At any rate, the negative connotation of the Arkansas Traveler has obviously lessened in recent years. Otherwise, the University of Arkansas probably wouldn't be using it as the name of its student newspaper, nor would a minor league baseball team based in Arkansas be calling themselves the Travelers.
"Currier-ives-arkansas-traveller". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Currier-ives-arkansas-traveller.jpg#/media/File:Currier-ives-arkansas-traveller.jpg