Bernard de la Harpe
or Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe
(1683 in Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. It is a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine.-Demographics:The population can increase to up to 200,000 in the summer tourist season...
-September 26, 1765) was a French explorer who is credited with the discovery of Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...
. In 1722, la Harpe found two distinct rock formations on the Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...
, the smaller one the South bank he named La Petite Roche
and the larger on the North bank La Grande Roche
. He based a trading post near the smaller formation, as a Quapaw
The Quapaw people are a tribe of Native Americans who historically resided on the west side of the Mississippi River in what is now the state of Arkansas.They are federally recognized as the Quapaw Tribe of Indians.-Government:...
Indian settlement was stationed there.
Bernard de la Harpe may have been the first explorer to discover Natural Steps, Arkansas
Natural Steps is an unincorporated census-designated place in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States, just 18 miles northwest of Little Rock along the southern bank of the Arkansas River, on Arkansas Highway 300. As of the 2010 census, its population is 426. Today, it is a small farming community...
. At the time, this area was occupied by a large Quapaw village.
In 1721, la Harpe created the earliest known map of Galveston Island and Galveston Bay at a time when he was unsuccessfully trying to establish a French presence in the area. That map or a copy of it is now in the possession of the Rosenberg Library in Galveston. In la Harpe's map, Galveston Island is not given a name but is easily identifiable. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, la Harpe's ship, Subtile
, had been destined for Matagorda, winding up in Galveston Bay only by mistake.^ This early citing of (or even potentially landing on) Galveston Island is rarely mentioned in history books, in sharp contrast with other early well-accepted (Cabeza de Vaca) or even potential (La Salle) contacts between Europeans and Galveston Island.