Ghosts of the Prairie


The Ghosts of Arrow Rock

The recorded history of Arrow Rock, Missouri dates back to the expedition of Lewis and Clark, so it comes as no surprise that a town with such a rich past has a few ghosts in residence!

Arrow Rock saw its first inhabitants in the days of the Native Americans, who gathered flint here for arrowheads, hence the name of this Missouri River landmark. The nearby spring became a regular trading post in the 1820's and by the end of the decade a few of the explorers settled here and founded a town.

In 1829, the town of Arrow Rock was founded on the bluff above the river.  Originally named Philadelphia, the town’s name was changed in 1833 to coincide with the landmark. Its situation on the Missouri River and Santa Fe Trail meant that large numbers of travelers heading west passed through the town. In 1834, Joseph Huston, a native of Virginia, began construction of a two-story brick structure known today as the Old Tavern.

By 1860, Arrow Rock had become Saline County’s most important river port, with a population of more than 1,000.  Famous residents have included the painter George Caleb Bingham and Dr. John Sappington, who was instrumental in combating malaria. The town has also produced three Missouri governors.

The population boom of the past slowly faded and today, Arrow Rock can only boast about 100 residents. Its charm, antique stores and inns still manage to attract thousands of visitors though and remains in a constant state of restoration.

One ghostly spot in town is the already mentioned Old Tavern, which was built in the 1830's by slaves owned by John Huston. The tavern still operates today as a wonderful restaurant and is also home to "spirits" of another sort. Over the years staff members have claimed a number of strange experiences. The daughter of a manager refused to stay in the building alone and a teenager who mopped the floors for the place quit. He said that, even though the dining room was empty, he heard the sounds of people talking and eating in the other room. Others have heard their names called and have heard unearthly footsteps pacing the floors.

But the tavern is not the only place where ghosts still dwell.... the private homes in town also have their share of phantom residents. One of these, among the town's oldest houses, has small upstairs guest room where many of the guests decline to sleep! They prefer to not wake up with "someone" else in the room! One family member refuses to enter this room at all, as does the family pet. The dog will remain at the door whenever the family enters the bedroom but will not go inside.

Arrow Rock is located by traveling west on Interstate 70 past Columbia and Boonville and then turning north on Route 41.

©Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.