The Village Scene

Many factors contribute to the village of Arrow Rock that we see today, not the least of which is the town plan that was laid out in 1829 when Arrow Rock was founded. The nearly sixty-acre original town was platted in a grid pattern with one-acre square blocks, four lots to each block. Today, First Street forms the eastern boundary, but early plat maps of 1876, 1896, and 1916 show a Commons or Water Street parallel to the bluff. It is unclear if the street ever existed because there is no evidence of it today.

Village Of


Prior to the Civil War

Supplies, merchandise, people, and animals followed the route of the Santa Fe Trail from the Missouri River through Main Street, Arrow Rock’s primary east-west artery. Consequently, commercial businesses were concentrated on the river end of town on both sides of Main Street while churches and other institutional buildings were scattered throughout the community.

Property in Arrow Rock

Most properties in Arrow Rock were devoted to residential use, which in the 19th century meant that many back and side yards contained a multitude of outbuildings, animals, and activities. Frequently, these included a garden, various animals (most certainly chickens, a milk cow, and possibly a horse, with the attendant shelter for each), a cistern or well, an outhouse, a separate kitchen, a smokehouse, and, in a few instances, a slave house.

Arrow Rock’s Landscape

To accommodate all these uses and activities many property owners acquired multiple lots, their property extending the full depth of a block. This distinctive ownership pattern had a major impact not only on the functioning and visual appearance of Arrow Rock in the 19th century but also on the Arrow Rock that we see today. Over the years, as these backyard activities became outdated and outbuildings were removed, Arrow Rock’s landscape gradually acquired the park-like quality that characterizes the village in the 21st century.

Learn about Arrow Rock resident and one of America’s great 19th century artists.