The line started forming on the east side of the Jasper County Courthouse more than two hours before the first balusters were brought to the Carthage Square on Friday.


The line started forming on the east side of the Jasper County Courthouse more than two hours before the first balusters were brought to the Carthage Square on Friday.
Area residents, fearing that someone would snap up all the 100 balusters being offered for sale at the last Carthage Historic Downtown Art Walk, brought their checkbooks to pay $250 each for the stone pieces that were once part of the old Route 66 railroad bridge on the east side of town.
“I was afraid someone would come and buy all the balusters and I wouldn't get one, and I want one,” said Carthage resident Andrew Jordan, who announced on Facebook at about 3 p.m. Friday that he was first in line.
“They're Carthage Marble, and they've been on the bridge that was at the entryway to Carthage, and that was part of Route 66, so there are a lot of different reasons they're important,” Jordan said. “I want one for my office and that way I'll always have a piece of Carthage history.”
Nita Hartman, who was second in line, said $250 may seem like a steep price to pay for a piece of stone, but she checked with a stone mason and he told her it was a bargain.
“I thought if I didn't end up getting them, I'd have some replicas made, and the guy who I talked to said you're getting a bargain at $250, you had better get in line,” Hartman said. “It was a lot more than $250 to make one. The marble is not available commercially anymore, that's a big part of it.”
Mark Elliff, Carthage Chamber President and a member of the Vision Carthage Committee, which received the balusters last summer from the city of Carthage, said the group sold 77 on Friday, raising $19,250 for the committee's work.
“This is the first real money of its own the Vision Carthage Committee has had,” Elliff said. “What's good about that is it gives us some flexibility and we can look at different projects. We can look at grants that require matching money and leverage the money we have, which is the best way to maximize it. If we have some smaller projects we want to do, we might be able to look at them. This was a nice opportunity and we're very grateful to the city of Carthage for allowing us to raise these funds.”
The Chamber announced that the 23 balusters left of the 100 the Committee decided to sell will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and can be ordered by calling the Chamber.
“No limit will be placed on how many balusters each interested party can purchase,” the Chamber said in a written release. “While each baluster sold will be in complete condition, they will be sold “as is.” Balusters were originally installed in 1934 and being over 80 years old, show various signs of wear and tear including chips and cracks.”
Elliff said the committee has more balusters, but those remaining have cracks or chips, so they want to look at them more closely before deciding what to do with them.
The bridge the balusters came from was built in 1934 and closed in 2016 when a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection found deterioration in the structure.
Vision Carthage is a nonprofit with the goal of implementing the recommendations of a 2011 city improvement study completed by Drury University.
Previous projects include new benches on the Historic Carthage Square, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, and restoration of homes in the 600 and 700 block of Grant Street.