Hiking, Biking, and Walking Trails
Branson Creek lets you enjoy nature the way you prefer. View the natural surroundings from the comfort of your porch or take a stroll on any of the nature trails carved into the Ozarks. These trails will let you experience some of the area's most interesting sights including the remains of the Melva Ghost Town, which was largely destroyed by a great storm in the early 1900s. You can also visit the place of legends and folklore, Murder Rock, where tradition has it that outlaw Alf Bolin buried gold and silver from many of his famous robberies in a cave here in the 1800s. While the supposed treasure has never been found, one can find Bolin's initials carved into the cave wall. While venturing the woods of Branson Creek, exploring Melva Ghost Town or searching for Bolin's treasure, you'll certainly share your journey with the abundant deer, wild turkey and, if you are quick enough, a road runner or two!
Much More Than a Hike Through the Woods – A History of Melva
The Communities at Branson Creek spans some 6,500 acres. Within this vast development you will find over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails that have been sculpted in and around the beautiful landscape that makes The Communities at Branson Creek such a wonderment of discovery. Follow the trails into the old town of Melva and onto three old working lead mine sites. Each of the trails offers an exciting adventure into the past, showcasing how hard-working the people of that time were to build such operations back into the far away rugged hillsides.
The town of Melva had a relatively short life. Located on Turkey Creek, the town was the hub for mining activity in the area in the 1880s and 1890s. With three active lead mines; the Silver Moon, the Jose B and the King Solomon, these mines were heavy producers in their day. (You will discover each of these mine sites as you journey on the trails.) As the railroad was completed north to Branson in 1906, Melva gave the railroad company land for a depot and section house making it a flag stop for the railroad.
The railroad and mines were not the only source of income for the Melva area. A number of nearby farms shipped fruit and vegetables to market using the side rail set up at Melva. During the late 1800s and early 1900s the hillsides overlooking Melva would have been filled with thousands of peach and apple trees. Farms in and around the region, rich with fields of tomatoes and strawberries would have brought their produce to town to be sold and loaded onto side cars on the spur rail at Melva.
In its day Melva was a small but booming town complete with a Feed and General Store, Barber Shop, a Hotel, a full-service Blacksmith shop and a town doctor. The school was located on the hill above the railroad tracks and was a one-room building that taught up to the eighth grade.
Wednesday night, March 10, 1920, changed everything in the little town of Melva, Missouri. Battered with heavy rains and hail, Turkey Creek rose from the flooding and became dangerous to cross. Thursday morning brought more of the same as the men left for their jobs on the railroad, the mines and mills. The children stayed home from school that day because the creek was too high to be able to get across. With the roar of a train, the storm struck. The cyclone hit the ground and the sky went black. Very few buildings were left and the damage to Melva and the surrounding property was great. The town never fully recovered from this natural disaster and by 1931 had all but disappeared.
There is still evidence of Melva today. One of the most prominent landmarks is the high stone foundation and fireplace of the Wood’s House standing on the hill above the railroad tracks. Higher on the hill behind is a stone chimney with a concrete conduit leading to it. There are traces of the foundation of what appears to have been a large building in this area as well. To the north above the road you will see traces of foundations of what look like small houses. Across the railroad tracks and down the hill which rises from Turkey Creek’s small valley were a few homes. Some of the foundations, walls, and steps can still be seen amongst the overgrowth of the forest.
You can enjoy a walk through this living history lesson and see all we have mentioned above on the trails in The Communities at Branson Creek. Check out the trail map!