Hikers enjoy the view near a wing dike on the Missouri River at Arrow Rock State
Park                                       Photo: Al Gumbs

Great Getaway: Arrow Rock
By Milli Hogins This year, veteran outings leader Eileen McManus has been leading an outing to a Missouri state park each month. May 19th's outing was to Arrow Rock State Park State Historic Site and park.

We visited the Visitor's Center and museum before watching a 20-minute video, "Arrow Rock: Frontier Town of the Boone's Lick," a good introduction and overview of the history of Arrow Rock and the Boone's Lick Country. The Arrow Rock bluffs were a well-known landmark on the Missouri River, visible for many miles. They first appeared on a French map in 1732, noted as "pierre á fleche"”– the "rock of arrows." In 1829, the town was originally platted on this site as New Philadelphia. This grandiose designation did not last long, and it is now known as Arrow Rock.

By the middle of the 19th century, it had grown to more than 1000 residents. The river moved and railroads and highways bypassed it, so it declined. Today some 57 people are full-time residents, but the streets fill with visitors who enjoy the hospitality of this charming bit of old Missouri. The entire town of Arrow Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

We hiked the Arrow Rock River Landing Trail, a short gravel and dirt trail that leads to a magnificent view of “"Ole Muddy."” A bridge constructed by volunteers crosses the remnant of the old river channel near the junction with the Lewis and Clark Trail of Discovery. Interpretive signs explain the history of the landing, features such as the former warehouse sites, boat building yard and the natural processes that now occur in the area. The trail passes the bluff where Native Americans extracted flint to make tools and points – thus the name Arrow Rock.

We had a delicious lunch at the J. Huston Tavern, which dates back to 1834. Afterwards we strolled through the once-bustling river town that's now the serene village of Arrow Rock, led by our guide from the Friends of Arrow Rock. Some of the sites we visited were the George Caleb Bingham home, the Lyceum Theater, the John Sites house and his gunsmith shop, the only known reconstructed gunsmith shop in the United States. We also visited the one-room jail which was used only once, housing a drunkard for part of one night.