Volume 8, Number 9, Fall 1984


Carico, Past Village of the Ozarks

by Lefa Woods


About 72 years ago, a store was built in the little valley on Railey Creek about halfway between Galena and Reeds Spring near the Missouri Pacific Railroad track. The store was called "Little Chicago."

About this time it was discovered the rocky hillsides of this area were just right for growing tomatoes. Edward McCormick bought the store and home and built a tomato canning factory.

At that time produce was hauled to market by wagons, so the area farmers were happy to have a place near their farms to take their tomatoes.

The processing of this crop required workers. Soon small native oak houses began to dot the valley and hillsides as people moved here to work in the cannery and fields. At the peak of the canning season at one time as many as 300 people lived here.

The one-room school was located across the creek so a foot bridge was built so the children could cross the creek to school. As many as 60 or 70 students were taught by one teacher in all eight grades.

A post office was opened in the store building and the name was changed to Carico. The freight trains would stop for canned tomatoes and leave empty cans to be filled. The passenger trains would stop to take on and discharge passengers.

For the train to stop the passengers would stand on the track and, as the train came around the curve, they would wave a white flag. Fortunately the train always stopped. The train also would leave and receive mail.

The village had a blacksmith shop and a grist mill.

With the depletion and erosion of the rocky hillsides and the droughts of the 1930’s, the canneries were shut down. Since the Depression was also here, the people loaded all their possessions in old cars and trucks and moved away.

The canning factory was torn down. The store and all the houses have fallen down and decayed. The school was consolidated with area schools. The building was sold and made into a dwelling.

The footbridge is gone; the creek, a clear, cold stream fed by area springs and during a roaring torrent, still runs by the deserted village. The passenger trains no longer run. The sound of the freight trains still can be heard up and down the valley. Carico is still on some maps but it is no more. Cattle graze where homes once stood.

When you tell the younger generation or people that are new to this area that this was once a thriving village, they just look at you and smile as though you must be dreaming.

Editor’s Note: The author is a former school teacher at Galena (had three of Ruth Asher’s children in 3rd grade) and has lived at her Reeds Spring address over seventy-two years.

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