Our Town Carleton

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 10:59 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 11:11 AM CST
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CARLETON, Neb. (KOLN) - You can feel the pride on the streets of Carleton in Thayer County. During our visit, we discovered that local residents have much to be proud of and excited about.

We talked with Rod Heinrichs about the community. The town’s nickname is the “Milo Center”. You can see this name on the water tower. “Milo was the mainstay of row crops in this area for years,” Heinrichs said. “Milo is not as prevalent as it was. It was brought up from Texas to Nebraska. Milo was started in the 1930′s. I believe in 1939, the first railcar load of milo was shipped out of the state, and supposedly from here in Carleton. Today, we have a Milo Day in celebration of all that. It’s the second Saturday in September. It was started by a pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in town. A committee was formed in 1951, and it was started in 1952. There’s been a Milo Day ever since. We have mud drags, horse shows, kids games and a parade. We have a barbeque at 6 p.m., and the highlight of the day is the queen contest. Contestants interview throughout the day to determine who will be the best person to represent Carleton in the next year.”

It turns out Milo Day was held this year on September 11. “We dedicated a new fire hall in 2021, which we are proud of,” Heinrichs said. This isn’t the first fire hall for the community. “The first fire hall was put up in the 1930′s,” Heinrichs said. “That’s where our post office is today. In the late 1960′s and 1970′s, there was another fire hall constructed before we moved into this one.”

Carleton was started in the late 1870′s. “East of town it was first known as Coldrain, then it got moved to the current location, and it’s always been a railroad town,” Heinrichs said. “The Union Pacific has been important to the town over the years. This part the Union Pacific is known as the A-B-C railroad. All of the towns along this section are in alphabetical order, so you’ll find Alexandria, Belvidere, Carleton, Davenport, Edgar... all the way to Hastings and beyond. This community started in 1872, and the town will be 150 years old this year.”

The town may be small, but there are a number of businesses thriving in Carleton. “We have Citizens State Bank, we have a restaurant and bar, and a feed store that’s one of the oldest in the state,” Heinrichs said. “We have a fuel business, an Aurora Coop branch, we have a repair shop that sells industrial engines for irrigation, we have a body shop, and we have Cargill, which is just west of town and features one of the biggest grain loadout facilities on the Union Pacific. They get grain from all over the area.”

During our visit, Heinrichs presented Pure Nebraska with some of the town’s signature milo pancake mix. Heinrichs says you can call the bank at (402) 356-2601 to find out how to get some of your own!

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