Road Development

Earliest travel through this area was on the road from St. Louis to St. Charles, now known as the St. Charles Rock Road. It was the first road to traverse St. Louis County, connecting the two oldest settlements in eastern Missouri. This road furnished access to the Santa Fe and Oregon trails for the many west bound wagon trains that were outfitted at St. Louis. A ferry, established in 1805, afforded a river crossing at St. Charles. In 1819, St. Charles Road was established as a post and stage road and in 1825 the County Court appointed overseers to realign its course. An act of 1837 incorporated the road as the St. Louis and St. Charles Turnpike with an eighty foot wide right-of-way and a 24 foot wide roadway.

After passage of the Missouri Plank Road Law in 1851, the road was constructed of 2-1/2 inch thick oak planks laid on three sills lengthwise in the roadway. Tolls were established and gates were set up. By 1862, some parts of St. Charles Road were macadamized and three years later it had been built of rock for its length, leading to the "Rock Road" title it still bears. It became the first concrete highway in the county in 1921 when its twelve mile length from Wellston to St. Charles was paved at a cost of $600,000. Within St. Louis, the road was later named in honor of Rufus Easton, the City's first postmaster and recently it was renamed in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Another major east-west route through the Arlington Area is Natural Bridge Road, so-named because its original right-of-way passed over a natural stone arch above Rocky Branch Creek, near the present Salisbury Street. Natural Bridge Road was originally laid out about 1845 from West Mound Street in St. Louis to Normandy, where it separated into branches to Bridgeton and to Florissant. A plank road company was formed in 1851 to construct such a road on Natural Bridge, the cost being shared jointly by the company and the county. This road was a financial failure in 1857 and in 1863 it was presented to the county. Toll gates were located at Marcus Avenue and at Normandy. By 1870, the road had been macadamized. Several north-south thoroughfares were opened across the area by 1875, at least as far as Bircher Road. These included Kingshighway, Goodfellow and Union, then called Barton Avenue.