Calhoun, Henry County, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 38° 28.120 W 093° 37.410
15S E 445608 N 4258000
The potters, the railroad, those who made the county grow...oldest town in county...From being the first town in the county, to being pushed aside for county seat, to a state park replacing the railroad.
Waymark Code: WM121E5
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 02/01/2020
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member coisos
Views: 1

County of Marker: Henry County
Location of Marker: end of S. Olive St., Katy Trail State Park trailhead, Calhoun
Marker Erected by: Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks

Marker text:
History of Calhoun

1835 . . . . . .
The Oldest Town in Henry County
The founding of Calhoun, the oldest town in Henry County, is credited to James Nash of Tennessee in 1835. Nash donated the two-acre square for a public park and procured the services of John S. Lingle to plat the new village in 1837. Calhoun is named in honor of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), the "cast-iron" senator and vice president from South Carolina. Benjamin L. Durritt, a school-teacher, purchased the first lot on May 1837; however, it was Calhoun's postmaster who built the first house.

One writer described the town in those early years. "There were in this village (which was called Calhoun) twelve houses besides the hotel and the blacksmith's shop; there were no stores, and no wagon road; and the grass grew as luxuriantly in the street as out on the prairie."

Soon, Calhoun became the center of Henry County commerce, boasting one dry goods, two grocery and three general stores. Although more populated at the time, Calhoun lost its bid for county seat to Clinton in 1841. Its location was not central to the county.

Jugtown: the Queen of Pottery
The pottery business was one of the earliest industries in Calhoun. Six companies were in operation at one time, and a total of eight were located here. The exceptional clay deposits nearby supplied a thriving business even prior to the railroad. After the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Co. arrived in July 1870, the potteries enlarged operations and began to ship their products (crocks, bowls, jugs, etc.) to other states, earning Calhoun the nickname Jugtown.

The last of the potteries closed around 1910, and little evidence is left today of the once-thriving industry. Potter Street, where a few of the crockery works were located, was changed to Depot Street. As a testament to change, even the depot is gone. Still, one historian writes that Calhoun was the Queen of Pottery. In celebration of this history, the Calhoun Pottery Festival is held each year in conjunction with the Colt Show.

1870 . . . . . . .
The Best Colt in the County
"I've got the best colt in the county," bragged Frank Richards one summer's day in 1902. "I don't know so well about that," challenged Bud Garret. "I've got a couple of pretty good ones myself. Bring your colt in and we'll compare." With this exchange of words, the Calhoun Colt Show was born. The Clarion, Calhoun's newspaper, announced the pending exhibition, and local businesses contributed the purse. In the end, Frank Richards was right. Three judges declared his colt the best in the county.

Since then, except in wartime, the Calhoun Colt Show has been held annually in September. The event has grown to include competitions in 4H exhibits, livestock, produce and the selection of Colt Show Queen. Competition for the queen's crown began in 1957.

1910 . . . . . .
From Rail to Trail
Calhoun claims a lengthy history even prior to the railroad, but not until the train's arrival (1870) was the town incorporated. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Co., (MKT or Katy) provided an all-weather dependable route for shipping and receiving manufactured goods. Calhoun's prosperity blossomed, and by 1899 the population doubled to its all-time high of 1,000.

This prosperity was not to last. First, the potteries closed in 1910, then came the Great Depression and two world wars. As Clinton and Windsor grew, Calhoun declined. Its population in 2000 of 491 is less than it was in 1880.

The Katy Railroad discontinued passenger service in 1958.
Overbuilt and hard-pressed to compete with larger railroads and modern trucking, Katy filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission in August 1986 to discontinue rail use between Sedalia and Machens. Two years later, Katy merged into the Union Pacific Railroad. Union Pacific generously donated the rail corridor between Sedalia and Clinton to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in December 1991.

The Department of Natural Resources reopened this line to non-motorized travelers as an extension of Katy Trail State Park on Sept. 12, 1999. Appreciation is due to Paul M. and Jessie Lee Eaton for donating the land on which you stand for the development of trailhead facilities.

Who placed it?: Missouri Department of Natural Resources

When was it placed?: 2012

Who is honored?: Those who built the town, and those who keep it going...

Website about the Monument: [Web Link]

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