Arrow Rock: The Story of a Missouri Village

Arrow Rock: The Story of a Missouri Village

Arrow Rock: The Story of a Missouri Village

Arrow Rock: The Story of a Missouri Village


Arrow Rock, so named because Native Americans once went there to shape their arrowheads from the flint found along the Missouri River, is a small historic village. Today fewer than one hundred people call Arrow Rock home, but its scenic location and rich history continue to attract thousands of visitors every year. In June 1804, the Corps of Discovery passed "the big arrow rock," as William Clark noted in his journal, "a handsome spot for a town... the situation is elegant, commanding and healthy, the land about it fine, well-timbered and watered." Settlers soon arrived, some bringing slaves who developed the large farms; the village that was established grew slowly but saw profits from trade on the river. The beginnings of trade in the far west, the gold rush, and the Civil War all had profound effects on the settlers. Meanwhile, area residents were having an effect on the world. George Caleb Bingham, who became known as the "Missouri artist," participated in the founding of the town and built a home there, and Dr. John Sappington, an early resident of Arrow Rock, saved thousands of lives by perfecting a treatment for malaria. Also calling Arrow Rock home were numerous influential politicians, including three governors, M. M. Marmaduke, Claiborne Fox Jackson, and John Sappington Marmaduke. Life changed after the Civil War, and Arrow Rock changed, too. As railroads and major highways bypassed the town, many people moved away and fewer came through. Arrow Rock provides insight into the progression of history and its effects on one small Missouri town. The story of this village, now a historic site, brings to life the history of America: early days of settlement, an era of prosperity and power for some and incredible hardship for others, wars, a decline, and a rebirth. In addition, the long roll call of those who visited the area provides a history of the opening of the West. This book will prove valuable to those interested in Missouri history; the developing nation; and the geographical, political, and recreational forces that were at work as so many came and went. Like a visit to Arrow Rock itself, this book allows readers to step back into history and appreciate a time when the river was the highway.


Arrow Rock once meant a rock formation near a crossing on the Missouri River; these days, “Arrow Rock” means a small historic Missouri village. Throughout its history, it has most often been a place to pass through, or briefly visit, rather than a place to settle.

When Missouri’s major thoroughfare west was the Missouri River, Arrow Rock was an important stop along the route. the town’s leaders held enormous political power and wealth. Three Missouri governors called it home, and one of its early residents saved thousands of lives with his medical discoveries. the painter who came to be known as the “Missouri artist,” George Caleb Bingham, helped found the village and built a home there. the Bingham house, along with much else that existed in nineteenth-century Arrow Rock, remains. the once-flourishing town was bypassed by the railroads and major roadways, and by the changes they brought.

Since the early twentieth century, villagers have welcomed visitors and travelers, but not everyone was welcomed during the early years. Native Americans, the area’s first residents, often did not welcome the white trappers, who wanted their furs, or the settlers, who wanted their lands. Later, American pioneers did not welcome roving Indian bands, and the state soon forced Native Americans to go farther west. Some residents did not welcome the stream of Mormons moving west, in spite of the trade they brought. Saline County’s militia eagerly helped drive Mormons from the state when the governor declared them enemies.

Others were forced to stay. Some early residents brought slaves with them, and from its earliest days, the area depended on slave labor for its economic prosperity. During the Civil War, residents were deeply . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.