Here on Rock Creek in Missouri's fertile Glacial Plains, Rock Port was laid out, 1851, by Nathan Meek and succeeded Linden as seat of Atchison County, 1856. A leader in corn production, the county, organized 1845, is named for U.S. Sen. David R. Atchison.
In extreme northwest Missouri, Atchison is one of 6 counties formed from the Platte Indian Purchase annexed to Missouri in 1837. The county's north boundary was unsettled until 1851 when the U.S. Supreme Court had the Mo.-Iowa boundary marked. To the west, the Mo. River channel separates the county from Nebraska. In 1867, the river altered its course at one spot and the Supreme Court ruled the abandoned channel the boundary in 1904, thus giving land east of the river to Nebraska. In 1957, Mo. and Nebr. agreed to reestablish the river boundary at this spot.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped along the Missouri in what is now Atchison County, 1804, and Clark, impressed by the bare hills rising from the river plain, named the area "Baldpated Prairie." Lewis explored nearby Nishnabotna (Indian - Canoe making) River and called the country handsome.
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Rock Port, the seat of Atchison County, serves an area first settled by H. B. Roberts and Thomas Wilson, 1839, and listed in 1950 as having the highest valued farm land and buildings in Missouri. Early settlements near here included a short-lived German Colony, 1846-47, directed by Cornelius Schubert.
In the Civil War, Rock Port and Atchison County were at times subjected to guerrilla raids and troop movements. It was not until 1881, when two railroads were built through the county, that prosperity was assured. In 1880, Tarkio, the county's largest town was laid out by Charles Perkins on Tarkio (Indian - Walnut) River. Tarkio (Presbyterian) College was founded there in 1883-85.
Rock Port was first incorporated in 1855 as Rockport and this form of spelling has also been used. In town is the County World War I Memorial Building. The Brownville Mo. River Bridge (1940), between Mo. and Nebr., is owned by the county. Associated with county growth are Henry F. Stapel, Rock Port editor, a pioneer in mutual insurance movement; and David Rankin, noted farmer and pioneer in the settlement of Tarkio.