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History of North Little Rock, Arkansas

North Little Rock is on the Arkansas River, across from 2085:Little Rock]. Both cities are in Pulaski County. For many years, North Little Rock endeavored to establish an identity separate from that of Little Rock. On early maps, it was just shown as "Opposite Little Rock." In 1722, French traveler Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe led an expedition up the Arkansas River. Many hunters and a few settlers were attracted to the north side in the early 1800s. A ferry terminal was established by Edmund Hogan on the north shore across from the “little rock.” In 1826, the state’s first stagecoach line between the north shore terminal and Arkansas Post was started by a settler named Wright Daniel. Daniel had settled at the foot of Big Rock in 1814. In 1832, another ferry operator, named David Rorer, began service at the end of what is now Locust Street. The north side was a primary junction for the movement of people to Oklahoma and the Red River during the Indian Removal, the Trail of Tears, in the 1830s and 1840s. In 1838, a group of investors platted a 100-acre townsite called DeCantillon, named after surveyor Richard DeCantillon Collins. They sold a few lots along the Arkansas River, but their dreams were washed away in the Flood of 1840. The first railroad, the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad, was completed in 1862, ending at a depot on the north river bank "opposite Little Rock" from where passengers were ferried across the river to Little Rock. The railroad was taken over by the Union army in 1863. They constructed a complex of shops and warehouses that took the name of Huntersville, named after army Captain R. L. Hunter. In 1865, the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, William E. Woodruff, also tried to sell lots on the north side for a proposed town-site named Quapaw, immediately east of today’s Interstate 30 Bridge. In 1866, the heirs of landowner Thomas W. Newton platted a town they called Argenta, named for the silver mines Newton had managed in what is now Kellogg Acres. Argenta prospered as an unincorporated town of mills, factories, hotels and saloons. The first of three railroad bridges, the Baring Cross Bridge, was constructed across the Arkansas River just to the west of downtown Argenta. Completed in 1873, it connected the north side of town with Little Rock and the southwest, and heralded the beginning of a long period of growth for Argenta, which was a major railroad line crossing by the late 1870s. In 1890, Little Rock annexed Argenta and the adjacent territories and made it the eighth ward of the city of Little Rock. Argenta was considered to be a "rough" town at the time of the annexation. The town’s primary street, Newton Avenue (later changed to Main Street), was filled with saloons and gambling houses. Later in 1897 a “free” wooden bridge was constructed across the Arkansas River. It is now the Main Street Bridge. Brothers William C. and James P. Faucette played a significant role in the independence and development of Argenta/North Little Rock. Through trickery, they first backed incorporation in 1901 of the Town of North Little Rock, north of 15th Street. Later in 1903, they conspired with a handpicked group of legislators to pass the “Hoxie-Walnut Ridge” bill, which manifestly would have allowed only those two northeast Arkansas cities to consolidate. However, to Little Rock’s surprise, the law allowed any city within a mile of another to merge with all or part of that city. In July 1903, North Little Rock and Argenta residents voted to merge. Little Rock mounted a court challenge, but the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of North Little Rock on February 6, 1904. Thus a city of more than 8,000 residents had been born on the north side. In January 1905, through voluntary annexation, Baring Cross, which had incorporated in 1896, became part of North Little Rock. In January, 1906, North Little Rock changed its name to Argenta, but rechristened itself back to North Little Rock in October 1917. One of the largest municipal parks in the country with 1,575 acres, Burns Park features a log cabin that was built prior to the Civil War. Built in 1888 on Big Rock Mountain as a resort hotel, Fort Logan H. Roots was purchased in the 1890s by the federal government and is now the North Little Rock branch of the Veterans Administration Hospital. The VA operates Towbin Health Care there. Crestview Park, on the grounds of the fort, features sculptures by Rodriguez. The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum features the USS Razorback, a U.S. Navy submarine. North Little Rock is home to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, as well as Shorter College, a private two-year institution sponsored by the African-Methodist Episcopal Church.