Life In Missouri... History and Old Stuff...
If you pass through central Missouri, try to make time for a stop at the village of Arrow Rock. It's located about 15 miles north of I-70 on Highway 41, northwest of Boonville.
This photo of the Missouri River Valley (above) was taken from the bluff at Arrow Rock in early spring, eight or nine years ago. This bluff was a landmark for Native Americans and for early European travelers. A big spring provided good water for anyone who passed. Native Americans came here to gather flint for arrows (hence the name of Arrow Rock). Lewis and Clark wrote in their diaries about the big bluff and the salt licks nearby.
Arrow Rock was established as a town in 1829, and it rapidly became an important river port as settlement pushed westward. The Santa Fe Trail crossed the Missouri River via the Arrow Rock ferry, and much trade and traffic came to Arrow Rock through this intersection.
After the Civil War, Arrow Rock was bypassed by the railroad and it began to slowly dwindle away. With diminished traffic, trade and population, there was no need for new store buildings or homes. The town became frozen in time.
Arrow Rock today (population: 79) is a time capsule. Buildings still stand from the 1830's, the town's first decade. Many other buildings in the town were constructed by the mid-19th century. Wooden sidewalks and stone-lined gutters are still part of the infrastructure. The entire town has been declared a National Historic Landmark.
The hour we spent at Arrow Rock was just enough to tantalize me. I hope I can go back sometime. We were driving to Kansas City to visit my mother-in-law, and we'd been in the car all day. You can see the stress of hard travel on the kids' faces. They weren't as impressed with stone gutters as their mother was.
I remember that I was impressed by the neatness of the village. Every store, every house, every parking lot, and every lawn was manicured. Somehow they had convinced or forced everyone in town to make the place look beautiful.
You can read more about Arrow Rock's history and see some good photos of the old buildings at the Friends of Arrow Rock website.