Carthage in Beautiful Missouri Ozarks
In 1927, Carthage, Missouri, was proclaimed The Open Gate to the Ozarks and the guide book to the left extolled the Little City Among the Trees as one of the finest places to live due in part to its beauty of setting and architecture. Also at this time, Carthage was one of the many Ozark Playgrounds Association members working to promote the entire Ozarks region as a tourism destination.
Today Carthage has three districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places and many individual structures listed as well. Some of the finest examples of Victorian and early 20th century architectural styles can be seen throughout town. Click here for a PDF file of the Carthage Convention & Visitors Bureau Historical and Architectural Guide (written by the Powers Museum several years back).
In 1841, Jasper County, Missouri, was formed from Greene County and in 1842, the City of Carthage was laid out as the county seat with a public square surrounding a simple frame courthouse. By the next decade, a brick building for the county government was constructed and stood until destroyed by years of guerilla warfare during the Civil War. Today, the Battle of Carthage which took place on July 5, 1861, is memorialized with the Civil War Museum (205 Grant) and the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site (east of River on Chestnut Street Road). The George Washington Carver National Monument located outside nearby Diamond, Missouri, also interprets the turbulent years before and during the Civil War.
Like that 1854 brick courthouse, the thriving town of Carthage was destroyed by the end of the Civil War. When new and former inhabitants returned in late 1865, all they found was "a haunt for wolves and owls" Malcolm McGregor recalled. But soon the town reclaimed her position as the agricultural and social hub of southwest Missouri and the Tri-State Mining District.
By the mid-1880s, Carthage had a foundry, furniture factory, two woolen mills, 4 grain mills, a pottery, a brick manufacturer, a plow works and numerous liveries, agricultural implement dealers and regional wholesalers of clothing, groceries and hardware goods. But by the late 1880s Carthage discovered her greatest wealth lay underneath her in deposits of limestone, lead and zinc. The Jasper County Courthouse, built in 1894-95, was constructed of local limestone from the Carthage Stone Company quarries. Through these gifts from the earth, Carthage soon became one of the most prosperous towns in the state and becameknown as the Queen City of the Southwest.
Other industries grew to supply products to the town's growing number of residents as well as to markets throughout the four-state area and beyond. By 1900, Carthage had approximately 12,000 inhabitants and over one hundred business and industrial concerns. (To see 1906 images of Carthage, click here.)
Today Carthage continues in the twenty-first century with a diverse economic base that includes industries manufacturing furniture components, poultry, cheese and other food products, electrical light fixtures, and many other products. Agri-business also remains an important industry while tourism enterprises have been gaining recognition including the 2012 re-opening of the Art Moderne-styled Boots Motel on Route 66.
For further information on contemporary Carthage, contact the Carthage Chamber of Commerce or call 417-358-2373.
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