Ferries: Early ferry services were established as a ford on the
Southwest Trail at "the point of rocks" between 1812 and 1819.
Eventually, there were ferries in at least three locations serving
the city, one just above the Old State House, one below the point
of rocks (Ferry Street today), and one several miles below the city.
The first ferries were flat bottom boats, rowed or poled across.
Later they were horse propelled and finally steam powered.
Bridges: The first successful major bridge was the Baring
Cross completed in 1873. Pontoon bridges attempted earlier had
been unsuccessful because of the strong currents during high
The Junction Bridge, which rests on 'the little rock," was
completed in November, 1884, and a station was built at
Markham and Commerce. By 1886 or '87, rails were laid along
the riverfront between the two bridge areas.
A third railroad bridge crossing at McLean Street was built about
1898, and the train station built at Second and McLean still
The automobile bridges at Main and Broadway were built in the
River traffic was the primary means of commerce until it was
replaced by rail traffic after the Civil War. The Eagle was the
first steamboat to arrive at Little Rock in
1822. By the 1830's,
steamboat traffic was a weekly occurance, except during the low
water summer months. By 1853, there were 317 steamboats
during an eight-month period.
There were two steamboat landings, known as the upper and
lower landings. The upper landing comprised all the vacant space
north of Water Street and to the river in the original city to the
Quapaw Line. The lower landing was just below the little rock.
Riverboat traffic declined during the latter half of the nineteenth
century. Not until the McClellan-Kerr Waterway Project in the
mid-twentieth century did river traffic begin to grow again.