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Little Rock’s Little Rock

The location of Little Rock’s “little rock” has long puzzled visitors to Arkansas’ capital city.

vintage postcard - Arkansas.Most of the rock, which sat on a riverbank, was blown up in the late 1800s to build a railroad bridge. But someone saved the tip of the rock, and in 1932 it was hauled to the lawn outside of City Hall. A plaque was bolted to it. To distinguish it from the rest of what remained of the Little Rock, it was given the title “Le Petite Roche,” a nod to the French explorer who first saw it and named it.

But the move and name change caused confusion. According to Mark Webre of the city’s Parks Department, visitors to Little Rock who wanted to see “the Little Rock” would be directed to the riverside. The frustrated Little Rockhounds would wander fruitlessly, looking for a rock with a plaque on it, which instead was on the lawn of City Hall with a French name.

Now the errors of the past have been corrected; well, one of them, anyway. “Le Petite Roche” has been moved back to the riverbank, where it stands in a newly-built, very visible plaza in Riverfront Park, next to the old railroad bridge. It’s the photo-op it was meant to be. Shutterbugs can even angle their shots so that “Le Petite Roche” is in the foreground and the remnants of the Little Rock are in the background. With good lighting and a telephoto lens, you might even get, in the distance, under Main Street Bridge, “Big Rock,” which has never received the attention of its pipsqueak neighbor.

Perhaps now Little Rock will finally pull in some of the rock fans who have bypassed the city for its Arkansas rival, Hot Springs, with its puzzling Tufa Rock.

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Little Rock's Little Rock

Riverfront Park

Ottenheimer Plaza, Little Rock, AR
In Riverfront Park, behind the Little Rock River Market and to right of "Junction Bridge," an old railroad, now pedestrian, bridge across the river. From north: I-30 exit 141A, immediately south of river. Bear right, following signs for 2nd St. After two blocks turn right onto Rock St., then drive two blocks to Ottenheimer Plaza and Riverfront Park. You'll see the bridge and parking to the left. From the south: I-30 exit 141A. Follow signs for Clinton Ave. The ramp merges onto 2nd St., which quickly dead-ends. Turn left, then left again onto Clinton Ave. Drive 4 blocks. Turn right onto Rock St., then drive two blocks to Ottenheimer Plaza and Riverfront Park. Bridge and parking on left.
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