19. Arrow Rock, Missouri

Missouri River

View, north upstream

Aerial photo of Arrow Rock, a small forested hill on the Missouri River

© 2000 Airphoto—Jim Wark

Handsome Spot"

It was a hard and dangerous day's work getting past the wooded bluff called Arrow Rock (center of photo) on 9 June 1804. Driven by a strong current, the river was about three hundred yards wide and full of treacherous hazards. The barge struck one of the drifting logs, then caught on a cluster of them. It was a "disagreeable and Dangerous situation," wrote Clark.

Some of the men leaped into the water, swam ashore with a rope, and pulled the boat out of harm's way. "I can Say with Confidence," Clark declared proudly, "that our party is not inferior to any that was ever on the waters of the Missoppie."

After the expedition, in 1807, Clark would pass through here again, en route to build Fort Osage. He would remark on Arrow Rock as "a handsome Spot for a town." The place was destined to become the first jumping-off point for westering settlers and entrepreneurs, the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, pioneered by William Becknell in 1821. In 1829 a trader named Marmaduke platted a town here, which with typical frontier hubris he called New Philadelphia, but the name soon reverted to Arrow Rock.


From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark

Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press