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Little Rock

The capital city of Arkansas and seat of Pulaski County was named for a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River. These rocks had been noted in early eighteenth-century documents, but the designation first showed up on a map in 1799. There is a legend that Bernard de LaHarpe gave the rock its name, although LaHarpe is on record as sighting and naming Le Rocher Francais, “The French Rock” and now called Big Rock, on the north side of the river. French explorers called the rock on the other side La Petite Roche. There is a land deed of 1814, of disputed authenticity, referring to “little rocks bluff,” but the area was officially called simply The Rock. The first settlement was in 1820, and the post office that year was called Little Rock. In 1826, a group holding New Madrid certificates attempted to claim ownership and rename the town Arkopolis, but their claims were not upheld in court, and the name Little Rock endures.

Daniel Boice, University of Arkansas at Monticello

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