America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Arrow Rock, Missouri

Arrow Rock, Missouri

As pioneers moved west, beyond what was for the most part known to be the western USA, i.e. Ohio, they reached the Mississippi River, and headed through Missouri. One of the first settlements, painstakingly restored with twenty-three visitor points and structures on its walking trail of history, was Arrow Rock. It was 1829 when the first settlers came, and now, you can visit this remarkable village and state historic site that most folks outside the local area don't even realize is there. Thanks, Cindi, for letting us know about it. Now others can visit it from further afield as well, learn about the Santa Fe Trail and its role in western expansion, plus the added bonus of the tale and life of artist George Caleb Bingham. Image above: George Bingham House in 1940, Arrow Rock, Courtesy Library of Congress.

  • Arrow Rock, Missouri

    Arrow Rock

    Although the settler village of Arrow Rock would have its origins in 1829, the area was known for thousands of years to Indian culture who used the bluffs above the Missouri River to manufacture flint tools. The river was closer to town then, now one mile away. As far as Europeans go, the area was mapped by French explorers in 1732. But it was not until after the War of 1812 that western expansion took a greater path, this particular one traversed earlier during the Corps of Discovery in 1804 and later known as the Santa Fe Trail. Arrow Rock was always a small place, although it did grow within fifty years to one thousand; about three hundred people called the area home in the census in 1880, and remained steady in that arena until the 1970's. Now, the population is below 100. But that decline has led to a historic site, registered with many buildings on the National Historic Register, and draws 100,000 to its unique blend of pioneer history, art history, and settlers on the prairie charm.

    There's the village itself to visit, with walking tour and summer tram tour, the State Historic Site next door with Lewis and Clark overlook, and the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, that takes the land between the original channel of the river and today's location plus more up and down the Missouri River.

    Image above: Current view of Arrow Rock Village. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

  • Village of Arrow Rock

    What's There

    The village of Arrow Rock itself has a 23 stop walking tour, a driving tour of the area outside the village, the State Historic Site next door, and the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge just beyond that.

    Village of Arrow Rock - Start your visit at the Museum and Visitor Center run by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. There's a country store, the J. Huston Tavern (oldest continuously open restaurant west of the Mississippi), Arrow Rock Station, and the Lyceum theatre, where you can view plays in summer at the oldest pro regional theatre in Missouri. There are also tram tours run by the Friends of Arrow Rock.

    Arrow Rock State Historic Site - From the border of the town to the overlook of Lewis and Clark fame, the state historic site includes trails to walk, historic buildings, and a campground. The campsite is open year round; fees are $12-$28 depending on the time and services wanted. Fees subject to change without notice.

    How Much to Visit

    Visiting the Village and State Park are free. There are fees for use of the campsite and for various tours. The main Village Tram Tour, which runs several times a day from May to October and takes you into the structures which the Friends own, restore, and run (check with the Friends of Arrow Rock for details) is $6 per adult, $3 child.

    Hours Open

    State Historic Site: Grounds are open daily 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Visitor Center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from March to November 30 (extended summer hours to 5:00 pm.). Winter hours are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holiday Mondays. Other building hours vary daily. It is free to enter the park historic buildings when the buildings are open.

    Where Is It Located

    Arrow Rock is located off Missouri Route 41 north of Interstate 70. From St. Louis (165 miles), take I-70 to Exit 98, the north on 41 for eleven miles. From Kansas City (99 miles), take I-70 to Exit 89, look for signs to Arrow Rock State Park, then take that route for eleven miles. There may be quicker ways to get there via other local routes. Check your favorite map program for details.

    Website - Arrow Rock Village
    Website - Arrow Rock State Park

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