The Great South - Down the Mississippi

Arkansas River at Little Rock

Arkansas State House

Penitentiary at Little Rock

Little Rock

The Arkansas River at Little Rock is broad and noble, and here and there the bluffs are imposing. The town is said to take its name from a small rock on the west side of the stream, which is the first one encountered on that side from the mouth of the Mississippi to that point, so level is the alluvial. Some distance up stream, on the east bank of the Arkansas, stands Big Rock, a bluff of a little prominence.

The river is handsomely bridged for the railroad’s convenience, and the city, since the iron horse first snorted in its streets, has had a wonderful growth. It is a pretty, well laid out town, containing twenty thousand inhabitants; and one can see, from any eminence, hundreds of small, neat houses—the best testimonials to individual thrift in a community. The handsome but somewhat dilapidated State Capitol, the picturesque Penitentiary, perched on a rocky hill, the Deaf and Dumb State Asylum, the Asylum for the Blind, the land offices of the railroad companies, St. John’s College, and St. Mary’s Academy are among its best public buildings. Many of its streets are beautifully shaded and the peach trees were in bloom on the March days when I visited it. The main part of the city lies on a high, rolling plateau overlooking the river; back at some distance from the stream is the arsenal and post where United States troops are still stationed, and near by is a national cemetery. Little Rock was for many years the home of Gen. Albert Pike, the noted Confederate general and poet, and his mansion is pointed out with pride by the people of the State. There, too, lived for many years the original of the “Arkansas Traveler,” whose story has penetrated to the uttermost ends of the earth; and there the negro has done much to increase one’s faith in his capacity for industry and progress.

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Last updated 10/08/2009.