Alton, the hub of Oregon County, is located
approximately 207 miles south of St. Louis and 160 miles northwest
of Memphis, Tennessee in South Central Missouri in the heart of
the Missouri Ozarks and adjoining the state of Arkansas. Alton has
easy access from the north by Highway 19, from the east and west
by Highway 160 and from the south by Highway 63.
The population of Oregon County is 9,900 and Alton
is the county seat with a population of 692. Oregon County was
organized in 1885 and was named after the Oregon territory of the
far west. Oregon County is one of eleven counties adjoining the
Arkansas border. The region was roamed by various Indian tribes,
and was claimed by the Osage Tribe until 1808. In 1809 early
pioneers, largely from Kentucky, Tennessee and other eastern
states settled in this area.
In the northeast corner of the county lies the
historic Irish Wilderness. Here in 1858 Father John Hogan founded
a Catholic colony. The Civil War ended the colony venture. The
area is now located in the Mark Twain National Forest and is a
federal wilderness reserve. The lovely spring fed Eleven Point
River runs from the northwest corner of the county in a
southeasterly direction and is one of the best canoe float streams
in the Ozarks. At the closest point, the river is about 8 miles
from Alton but a number of canoe rental services provide easy
The city of Alton is governed by a council form of
government, and during the past several years much progress has
been made to provide updated services to the residents. In 1995, a
one-half cent sales tax was passed to provide funds for street
improvements and a number of projects have been completed.
A reliable volunteer fire department for both the
city and rural area is an important service offered to residents.
The city operates a police department, and weekly trash pick-up
service is provided. In cooperation with the Oregon county
Recycling Center, a program of recycling many items which had been
considered trash was begun in 1995 and is growing.
Land is available for industrial development and
financial help can be obtained from several sources. There is
currently one lumber products company which has recently moved to
a new location 2 miles outside of town and is expanding their
operation and a machine shop which is expanding. Alton and Oregon
County have an abundant work force for future industry, who are
instilled with diligent and honest work habits, hoping to make the
Alton area a better place to work and live.
Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op, headquartered in
West Plains, provides the electricity for Alton and most of Oregon
County. Telephone service is provided by CenturyTel.. The
switching office in Alton serves approximately 1,100 customers.
Alton has a good environment for rearing a family. It's apparent
that the children have respect for and a close relationship with
their parents. The people here live with God as the focal point of
their lives. The families in this vicinity take great concern in
preserving their spiritual Values. Educational facilities are
provided by the Alton R-IV School District. The grades range from
Kindergarten to grade 12. The school serves most of the northern
half of Oregon County with 14 buses traveling a total of 1,100
miles a day. The total enrollment for the school is 721. There are
32 teachers in the elementary school and 32 in the junior high and
high school. The Alton schools have one of the lowest dropout
rates in the state with approximately 95% of their students
graduating. The school is also recognized state wide for the
achievements of the athletic and music departments.
Alton has 2 city parks, Piney Creek (formerly
Lions Club Park), Piney Creek has restroom facilities and a
pavilion. Two charcoal grills and three picnic tables where
families or groups can cook their meal and eat under the shelter
of the pavilion have been added along with some children's play
equipment and a horseshoe pitching area. Also a little league
diamond Tucker Creek in the summer time offers a swimming pool, it
also has a wonderful walking trail, pavillion picnic ground,
tennis court and basketball goals.
A relatively mild climate providing a 180 day
growing season, and an average rainfall of over 40 inches makes
the area around Alton ideal for small grain, cattle and hog
farming and a number of families make a living this way. Most of
the farm families are longtime residents of the Alton area and
they keep up with the latest methods of farming to produce what
they need and protect the environment.
Approximately 75% of the land is wooded area,
which adds the necessary ingredient for beauty and draws many
people to the area each fall to see the changing colors. This also
provides abundant cover for wildlife, and deer and turkey are
plentiful in the county. A number of Bald Eagles also winter in
Oregon County each year.
The Eleven Point River is a favorite vacation or
weekend destination for many people who come from all over the
country to float this beautiful stream. The river was made a part
of the National Scenic Rivers program in 1968 and is managed by
the National Forest Service. Much of the river runs through narrow
valleys between steep hills which provides spectacular scenery.
Some of the special points of interest along the river include
Cane Bluff, a dolomite cliff that rises about 250 feet above the
river and is named for the cane that grows along the river bank;
Simpson Mill and Boze Spring Mill. Greer Spring, the second
largest spring in the state, is about eight miles north of Alton,
just off Highway 19 and flows into the Eleven Point. Until 1994
Greer Spring had been privately owned but is now owned by the
National Forest Service and they have built a walking trail from
the highway which makes it more accessible. The spring is unusual
in that there are two sources of water. Part of the water comes
out of the side of the bluff, while the remainder boils up out of
the ground in the stream bed.
Falling Spring is one of the more unusual springs
in the area as it comes out of the side of a bluff and falls about
20 feet to the stream bed below. An old mill which was powered by
the spring is still at the site. Other area attractions are
McCormack Lake and Turner Mill.
Just 18 miles south of Alton is Mammoth Spring, AR
and a few miles west of that in Missouri is Grand Gulf, which has
been called the Grand Canyon of the Ozarks. One of the highlights
of the year in Alton is the Ozark Black Gold Walnut Festival held
the first Saturday in October. Last year 50 people or
organizations set up booths around the square for the day and
there was fun, games, and entertainment for everyone.
Alton has quite a variety of businesses, many more
than might often be expected in a town of its size. Many people
like the peace and quiet of a small town and live here while
working in West Plains and here they can find almost anything they
need. Also, many people have started home based businesses, some
part time and some full time.
All in all, Alton is a great place to live, work,
play, or just visit The latch key is always out and the red carpet
is always down You are welcome to come for a day or come to stay,