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City of Joplin, Missouri
—  City  —
Motto: "Proud of Our Past...Shaping Our Future'"
Location in the state of Missouri
Coordinates: 37°5′3″N 94°30′47″W / 37.08417°N 94.51306°W / 37.08417; -94.51306Coordinates: 37°5′3″N 94°30′47″W / 37.08417°N 94.51306°W / 37.08417; -94.51306
Country United States
State Missouri
Counties Jasper, Newton
Incorporated 1873
 - Mayor Gary Shaw
 - Total 31.5 sq mi (81.7 km2)
 - Land 31.4 sq mi (81.4 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 1,004 ft (306 m)
Population (2008)
 - Total 49,775
 Density 1,585.2/sq mi (611.3/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 64801-64804
Area code(s) 417
FIPS code 29-37592[1]
GNIS feature ID 0729911[2]

Joplin is a city in southern Jasper County and northern Newton County in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Missouri. Joplin is the largest city in Jasper County, though it is not the county seat. In 2008, the population was estimated at 49,775[3] and the surrounding Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated population of 172,933 in 2008.[4] Although often believed to be named for ragtime composer Scott Joplin who lived in Sedalia, Missouri, Joplin is actually named for the Reverend Harris Joplin, the founder of the area's first Methodist congregation. Joplin was established in 1873 and expanded significantly from the wealth created by the mining of zinc, its growth faltering after World War II when the price of the mineral collapsed. The city gained additional renown as one of the stops on the historic Route 66.



Main Street c. 1910

Lead was discovered in the Joplin Creek Valley before the Civil War, but it was only after the war that significant development took place. By 1871, numerous mining camps had sprung up in the valley and resident John C. Cox filed a plan for a city on the east side of the valley.[5] Cox named his village Joplin City after the spring and creek nearby. The namesake comes from the Reverend Harris G. Joplin who founded the first Methodist congregation in the area in mid-century.

Carthage resident Patrick Murphy filed a plan for a city on the opposite side of the valley and named it Murphysburg.[6] While the nearest sheriff was in Carthage, a sense of lawlessness abounded in the town. This time is referred to as the "Reign of Terror". The cities eventually merged into Union City, but this merger was found illegal and the two cities split. Patrick Murphy then suggested that the town become Joplin. They merged again on March 23, 1873, this time permanently, as the City of Joplin.[7]

While Joplin was first put on the map by lead, it was zinc, often referred to as "jack", that built the town. With the railroads passing through the area, Joplin was on the verge of dramatic growth.

By the turn of the century, Joplin was quickly becoming a regional metropolis. Construction centered around Main Street, with many bars, hotels, and fine homes nearby. Joplin's House of Lords was its most famous saloon, with a bar and restaurant on the first floor, gambling on the second, and a brothel on the third. Trolley and rail lines made Joplin the hub of southwest Missouri and as the center of the Tri-state district, it soon became the lead and zinc capital of the world.

As a result of extensive surface and deep mining, Joplin is dotted with open pit mines and mine shafts. This left many tailings piles (small hills of ground rock) considered unsightly locally. The open pit mines themselves pose both hazards and sources of beauty. The main part of Joplin itself is nearly 75% undermined, with some mine shafts well over 100 ft (30m) deep. These mine shafts have occasionally caved in, creating sink holes. The mining history and geology are well documented in the mineral museum in town.

In 1933, Bonnie and Clyde spent several weeks in Joplin and robbed several area businesses. Tipped off by a neighbor, Joplin police attempted to apprehend Bonnie and Clyde. Bonnie and Clyde escaped (killing Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman and Joplin police Detective Harry McGinnis in the process); however, they were forced to leave most of their possessions behind, including a camera.[8] The film in this camera was developed by the Joplin Globe. The rolls of film contained the now-legendary photos of Bonnie holding Clyde at mock gunpoint and of Bonnie with her foot on a fender, pistol in her hand and cigar in her mouth. The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation nominated the house at 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 2009.

Music lovers remember Joplin as the last place where Jimmy Dorsey appeared - on March 12, 1957, three months before his death.

After World War II, most of the mines were closed, population growth leveled off, and in the 1960s and 1970s, nearly 40 acres (160,000 m²) of the city's downtown were razed in the name of urban renewal.

Notable places in Joplin included Fred and Red's Diner, the House of Lords (demolished), the Connor Hotel (demolished), the Keystone Hotel (demolished), the Newman Mercantile Store (now City Hall), the Frisco Depot (demolished), Christman's Department Store, the Union Depot (still standing but abandoned), the Scottish Rite Cathedral, the Liberty Building (demolished), the Fox Theatre (remodeled), and the Crystal Cave (filled in and now a parking lot).

Panorama of Joplin, circa 1910.

Modern Joplin

It is the home to two major hospitals, St. John's Regional Medical Center and Freeman Hospital and Health System. The city also has a park system that includes a golf course, three swimming pools, walking trails, the world's largest Chert Glades, and a waterfall, Grand Falls, on Shoal Creek just south of town. Included in Schifferdecker Park is the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum and Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum.

Numerous buildings still exist in Joplin that are on the National Register of Historic Places.[9] Recently, the city has undertaken a project to revitalize its Main Street downtown district. It has refurbished its sidewalks and added new lamp posts. Numerous trucking lines such as CFI (now Con-Way Truckload) are headquartered in town, as the city is situated near the geographic and population centers of the nation. Eagle-Picher Industries, TAMKO Building Products, AT&T Communications and F.A.G. Bearings are noted employers in Joplin, and Leggett & Platt (Fortune 500) is located in nearby Carthage. The city is served by the Joplin Regional Airport located in the north of town near Webb City.

In the nineties the city continued to expand eastward towards U.S. 71 (future I-49), and largescale development occurred along Range Line Road, particularly around Northpark Mall. There are numerous suburbs that touch the city itself including Carl Junction, Duquesne, Airport Drive, Oronogo, Carterville, Redings Mill, Shoal Creek Drive, Leawood, and Saginaw.

Due to its location near two major highways and its many event and sports facilities, Joplin is a stopping place for travelers and a destination point for groups. With nearly 2,500 hotel rooms, the majority located within a 1/4 mile area of Range Line and I-44, Joplin offers many lodging choices. In addition, Joplin is home to the 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) John Q. Hammons Convention and Trade Center which serves as the primary event facility for conventions, associations, and large events.


Joplin is located at 37°4′40″N 94°30′40″W / 37.07778°N 94.51111°W / 37.07778; -94.51111 (37.077760, -94.511024).[10]

Joplin is located just to the north of Highway I-44, its passage to the west into Oklahoma. In recent years the settlements of Joplin have spread north to about Webb City. U.S. Route 66 passes through Joplin. Joplin is also mentioned in the song Route 66 when sung by Chuck Berry.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 31.5 square miles (81.6 km²), of which, 31.4 square miles (81.4 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.25%) is water. The city is drained by Joplin Creek, Turkey Creek, Silver Creek and Shoal Creek.

Joplin is the center of what is regionally known as the Four State Area: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas.


The college of "Physicians and Doctors" opened in an early day, and today Joplin is home to Missouri Southern State University, and two Bible colleges, Ozark Christian College and Messenger College. Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is currently collaborating with Missouri Southern State University in an effort to open a branch medical school in Joplin. Joplin is also served by the Joplin Public Library, which is situated on Main Street between the intersections of 3rd and 4th Streets.

Joplin is home to thirteen public elementary schools in the Joplin R-VIII School District: Cecil Floyd, Columbia, Duenweg, Duqeusne, Eastmorland, Emerson, Irving, Jefferson, Kelsey Norman, McKinley, Royal Heights, Stapleton, and West Central. It has three public middle schools, East, North, and South and one high school, Joplin High School.The JHS student population was nearly 2200 kids in the 2008-2009 school year.[11] A school bond issue for $57.3 million was passed in April 2007, allowing the district to build two new middle schools (East and South Middle Schools) to replace the old Memorial and South Middle Schools, and to give a major renovation and double the size of North Middle School.[12] Joplin also has many private schools, such as College Heights Christian School, St. Mary's Catholic Elementary School, St. Peter's Middle School, McAuley Catholic High School, St. Martin Luther School, and more. There is also one Independent School, Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, which has been running since 1993.[13]


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 45,504 people, 19,101 households, and 11,517 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,448.4 people per square mile (559.2/km²). There were 21,328 housing units at an average density of 678.9/sq mi (262.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.44% White, 3.67% African American, 1.53% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.98% from other races, and 2.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.51% of the population.

There were 19,101 households out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 13.5% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,555, and the median income for a family was $38,888. Males had a median income of $28,569 versus $20,665 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,738. About 10.5% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.


Joplin is situated in "Tornado Alley", a broad region where cold air from the Rocky Mountains and Canada collides with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the formation of powerful storms.

Climate data for Joplin, Missouri
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 42
Average low °F (°C) 24
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.84
Source:[14] 2010-02-22


Joplin is served by the mainline of the Kansas City Southern (KCS) railroad, as well as by branchlines of the BNSF Railway and Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad (MNA). The city was once a beehive of railroad activity, however, many of the original railroad lines serving Joplin were abandoned after the demise of the mining and industrial enterprises. Passenger trains have not served the city since the 1960s. The city's Union Depot is still intact along the KCS mainline and efforts are underway to restore it.

Interstate 44 connects Joplin with Springfield and St. Louis to the east and Tulsa and Oklahoma City to the west. U.S. Route 71 runs east of the city, connecting Joplin to Kansas City on the north and Ft. Smith, AR to the south. They will soon convert Highway 71 into Interstate 49 in the future in 2011 start date.., The highway is already built to four-lane freeway and expressway standards from Kansas City but has a few at grade intersections that need to be upgraded to interstate standards.

Part of the city is also served by the by the Sunshine Lamp Trolley, which commenced service in July, 2007.

Famous people born in Joplin, Missouri

Notable residents of Joplin, Missouri


External links

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