Ozarks Life: Honoring an engine of growth for Christian County

Larry Waggoner is painting a 120 foot long mural of the Chadwick Flyer.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 7:18 AM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - If you’re chugging up North 9th Street in Ozark and the sun’s out the chances are Larry Waggoner is painting.

“Beats being in the house,” Waggoner said. “I enjoy being outdoors. It’s only a couple miles away from home so I can stop whenever I need to go back and forth.”

Waggoner has been commissioned by the Historic River District to create its latest, beautification project for the city. A 120-foot-long remembrance of the Chadwick Flyer.

“When we’re looking at a giant long wall, what makes more sense than a railroad to celebrate the railroad as a mural,” the president of the Historic River District, Tim Bartholomew said.

The name, Chadwick Flyer, is getting a lot of publicity lately thanks to the walking and biking trail hoping to one day stretch from Ozark to Springfield. That trail is named after an important engine of growth for the area.

“The Chadwick Flyer was critical for this entire corridor as it came through Ozark,” Bartholomew said. ”I mean, we had the mill, we had the ice house, we had all sorts of things. The entire community was built around that railroad. And so that’s why we wanted to celebrate it.”

Completed in 1883, the railroad stretched from Chadwick to Springfield. It was a way to get timber, produce, and livestock from small rural villages to the big city for sale.

“We got some pictures together,” Waggoner said, “and I did a little demo. And they okayed it so we went from there.”

The main request from the Historic River District, making sure the three Christian County depots were included. Ozark is done, Larry is working on Sparta, and Chadwick will wrap up the mural. There’s even the real train schedule with the three hours it took to travel roughly 33 miles one way.

“This is half-scale,” Waggoner said about the mural. “You can kind of imagine double the size and double the length of all this and you get a pretty good idea of what (that train) would look.”

This mural is in the parking lot of the Ozark Senior Center. And while the Chadwick Flyer’s last ride was in 1933, many who come to the center have stories about their families and this train.

“A lady came by yesterday saying her grandfather cut ties in Chadwick,” Waggoner said. “And in my grandfather actually cut ties in Chadwick too.”

“It’s an awesome reminder of our history,” Ozark Senior Center board president, Marcia Temple said.

Anyone over the age of 60 can come out to the senior center, sit their caboose down, get a hot lunch Mondays through Fridays, and share some stories - train-related or not.

“We think that it will help to make us noticeable,” Temple said about the senior center. “So many people drive by here and don’t even know that we’re here. If they don’t come here, they don’t see anyone. So it’s very lonely for them.”

“We’re trying to encourage the small-town charm that we had and we’re trying to make sure we keep that as Ozark grows,” Bartholomew said.

On Saturday, May 20, the Ozark Senior Center is hosting a cookout. Along with food and music, you can see the mural. Any money raised will help support both Wagoner and the senior center with its day-to-day operations.

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