Trees against a blue sky
I am not much of a city person.

If I may elaborate - I love short visits to experience large cities. Larger cities offer a diversity in culture, architecture, food, and scenery that I can certainly appreciate. But I get overwhelmed quickly (I'm talking about you, San Francisco) and being in the city too long will cause me quite a bit of stress.

At heart, I am much more of a country girl. I love the clarity and peacefulness that the countryside offers. When I am seeking out places to visit I often look to the charm of the small American river town. Towns found along rivers are often the nation's oldest settlements, full of early American history. Internet searches of "quaint towns in Missouri" yielded plenty of great options but there was one town mentioned over and over again. This search brought me to the village of Arrow Rock, Missouri.

Welcome to Arrow Rock Sign

Welcome to Arrow Rock, Est. 1829

But first, lunch.

Being a Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend, our dining options were pretty slim within the town of Arrow Rock. Thankfully Catalpa, a delightful pizza parlor, was open. Catalpa features a selection of bready appetizers, burgers, pizza, boozy drinks, and tasty treats. We enjoyed some refreshments and the M.E.A.T. pizza before venturing out to explore the town. And yes - just like they advertise, they do have a pretty fantastic golden bathroom.

Entrance to Catalpa on the Boardwalk

Entrance to Catalpa on the Boardwalk

Catalpa Iced Tea and Logboat Brewing Co. Snapper IPA

Catalpa Iced Tea and Logboat Brewing Co. Snapper IPA

The M.E.A.T. Pizza

The M.E.A.T. Pizza

Pizza Slice

Bacon, Salami, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Polish Sausage, Mozzarella, and Cheddar

Catalpa Caramel Milkshake

After a long walk, the Caramel Milkshake hit the spot

Catalpa Mirrored Wall
Catalpa Entrance

Historic Arrow Rock Main Street
Arrow Rock Antiques and Mercantile

Main Street is lined with a few small mercantile shops.

Main Street is lined with a few small mercantile shops. Be sure to walk in to browse antiques, locally-made gifts, and of course, old-time candies. My personal favorite is the Necco wafer, the "original candy wafer" made since 1847.

Tours & Transportation

Visitors can book a guided tour enriched with historical narratives through the preservation society, Friends of Arrow Rock. Learn all about the town's history and more aboard their air-conditioned tram with stops at each historical landmark.

It was such a nice afternoon that we decided to visit each historical marker on foot. There are twenty-six points of interest along the walking and driving tour in Arrow Rock. We did not have the time to visit all of them, but I was able to capture many of the historic markers along the village's walking tour. The below descriptions are obtained from the Arrow Rock website.

Join me for a stroll around the quaint and historically-rich village of Arrow Rock, Missouri.

No. 1, Shelby Log Cabin

Originally located southwest of Arrow Rock, it was moved to this location to save it from destruction.

Shelby Log Cabin
Shelby Log Cabin Bowl by Window

No. 2, Masonic Lodge and Craft Shop

Arrow Rock Lodge No. 55, est. 1842, built this hall in 1868. In 2008, lodge members moved their hall to a location that was more accessible. Since 1960, the Craft Club members have sold their handmade items on the lower level.

Arrow Rock Lodge No. 55 Storefront

Arrow Rock Lodge No. 55, Chartered 1842

Arrow Rock Lodge No. 55 Storefront

No. 3, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Lodge Hall

Lodges provided social interaction and a safety net to pay for members’ burials and support for their widows and orphans. The lower floor served intermittently as a newspaper office and today houses the collections of the Missouri Press Association.

A photograph of an old newspaper
The Saline County Herald shop sign
Machinery inside a printing press shop
Machinery inside a printing press shop
Machinery inside a printing press shop

No. 4, the Miller-Bradford House, c. 1839

Sam B. Miller built the house in the 1830s, then sold it to Dr. Charles Bradford, a grandson-in-law of Dr. Sappington. Restored in 1959 by Bill and Cora Lee Miller, it was the first private restoration in the village.

No. 4, the Miller-Bradford House, c. 1839

The Miller-Bradford House, c. 1839

No. 5, Christian Church, 1872

Johnny and Nannie Sites are credited with donating the land on which this church was built. 

Christian Church, 1872

No. 6, Brown's Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 1869

African-American residents built this church just north of the present city limits. It also served as the first African-American school, and the 1870 census lists 66 students, both children and adults. Zack Bush used a team of mules to move the church to its present location in 1881. 

No. 7, Black History Museum, Brown Lodge, 1881

Following Emancipation, many freed slaves continued working on farms but eventually purchased homes in Arrow Rock. They established their own schools, churches and social institutions such as this lodge. Prior to the Civil War, this lot was the site of the Caldwell pottery factory, the third-largest in Missouri.

Upstairs Room
Black History Museum

No. 8, John P. Sites Gun Shop, c. 1866

Sites learned to build guns from his father. In 1844, he and his bride, Nannie, moved to Arrow Rock. This is the only known restoration in the United States of a gunsmith’s shop and home in their original location.

No. 9, Dr. John Sappington Museum

Dr. John Sappington developed and mass-marketed quinine pills nationwide to successfully treat malarial fevers. He was also a political force in antebellum Missouri; two of Sappington’s sons-in-law and a grandson served as Missouri governors.

A view from the Arrow Rock Bluff area.

A bird soars above the Arrow Rock Bluff area.

No. 10, George Caleb Bingham House, 1837

One of America’s great 19th century artists, Bingham is famous for his portraits and scenes of river life and politics. He built this Federal-style house and lived here intermittently through the 1840s.

George Caleb Bingham House, 1837

No. 12, Academy Boarding House, c. 1829

Public education did not exist until after the Civil War. The Arrow Rock Academy (no longer standing) was a private school incorporated in 1843, and students boarded at this log house for $2.50 a week.

No. 14, The Courthouse, c. 1830s

Arrow Rock was the temporary seat of Saline County in 1839 and 1840. This log structure was restored to represent the county courthouse of that period.

No. 14 Courthouse, c. 1830s

No. 14 Courthouse, c. 1830s

The judge's bench
Courthouse secretary desk
Courthouse book
Courthouse book

No. 18, Calaboose, 1873

This stone jail replaced an earlier one made of logs. Only one prisoner was jailed here, and when his hollering kept the neighbors awake, he was released.

Arrow Rock State Historic Site

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of this historic sites of Arrow Rock, Missouri. On our way home we stopped by the nearby Arrow Rock State Historic Site. This park offers tent and recreational vehicle camping to visitors. A small fishing pond is lined with beautiful fields of yellow coneflower and areas to sit and enjoy your natural surroundings. We enjoyed our visit in Arrow Rock and look forward to exploring a new historic river town, soon.

Plants against a white sky
Yellow coneflower in a field
Arrow Rock State Historic Site
Yellow coneflowers
Two Grain Silos


Village of Arrow Rock:

Missouri Department of Conservation:

Catalpa on the Boardwalk:

Technical: Fujifilm X-T4 and Fujinon XF 33mm F1.4 R LM WR Lens.