Joplin - A Lead Mining
the path from Webb City to Joplin is
seamless, as Webb City has virtually become a suburb of its larger sister
the self-touted lead mining capital of the world, was first settled by the
Reverend Harris G. Joplin in 1839. The minister held church services in
his home for other area pioneers long before the city of Joplin was ever
formed. Before the
Civil War, lead was discovered in the Joplin Creek Valley; but, mining
operations were interrupted by the war.
In 1870, a large
lead strike occurred which brought many miners to the area and numerous mining
camps sprang up. Soon, a man named John C. Cox filed a town site
plan on the east side of the valley which was quickly populated by a
number of new
businesses. The town was named for Joplin Creek, which was called such,
Reverend Harris G. Joplin.
Soon afterwards, a
named Patrick Murphy filed another town plan on the west side
of the valley, calling it Murphysburg. Before long, a fierce rivalry
sprang up between the two towns, but before it could get out of hand, the
Missouri State General Assembly combined the municipalities in 1873. That
same year, the city of Joplin incorporated. Today, Murphysburg is a
residential historic district of Joplin. It
encompasses Sergeant Avenue from First Street to Seventh Street and Moffet
Avenue from First Street to Fourth Street.
With the large influx of miners,
Joplin became a wild
town, filled with saloons, dance halls, gambling establishments, and
brothels -- so much so, that press referred to the city as being in the
midst of a
"Reign of Terror." However, the riches of the
mining fields also drew investors and speculators and a need for a
banking institution was obvious. Though Patrick Murphy had lost his bid
for the new city of Murphysburg, he saw opportunity and stepped up to the
plate, forming the Banking House of Patrick Murphy in 1875. Situated in a
2-story brick building on Main Street between Second and Third Streets,
his enterprise was a huge success. By 1880, the city had grown to more
than 7,000 people.
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. What began as a simple
mining town was soon filled with smelters, mines, large homes, businesses,
and the ever present saloons, the most popular of which, was the House of
Lords, which featured a bar and restaurant on its first floor, gambling on
the second, and a brothel on the third floor. The building still stands
In 1897, soaring prices and continued active demand
produced large profits for mines in the Joplin District, and the following
year was one of the most prosperous in the history of zinc mining. These
profits attracted the attention of wealthy Eastern investors and in 1899,
a group of Boston capitalists formed a corporation they called American
Zinc, Lead, and Smelting Company. American Zinc, as it was commonly known,
became one of the major players in the Tri-State Mining District.
By the turn of the century Joplin was quickly becoming the center of the
mining activity for the Tri-State Mining District, which consisted of
Oklahoma. By this time, the city boasted more than 26,000
people. Construction centered around Main Street, with many bars, hotels,
and fine homes nearby. Trolley and rail lines made Joplin the hub of
and as the center of the Tri-state district, it soon became the lead and
zinc capital of the world. Lead, and specifically zinc, created and would
sustain Joplin's economy for more than seven decades.
During World War I, the mines thrived providing mineral
materials for the war effort. However, when the war was over in 1918, the the mining industry declined because of
the low price of ore and the discovery richer ore pockets in
By 1920, its population had also declined from the previous decade, but
not dramatically -- losing about 7%.
In 1926, Route 66
made its way through Joplin, traveling from Webb City along Range Line
Road (US-71 Business Route), before zig-zagging
through town along Zora St., Florida Ave., Utica St., Euclid Ave., Saint
Louis Ave., and 7th St. (MO-66, BL-44). All manner of service
business began to sprout up to serve the travelers along the route.
In 1933, the city became the temporary home of
none other than the notorious outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde. Spending several
weeks in Joplin,
plying their robbery trade at several local businesses. When tipped off by
a neighbor, the Joplin Police Department attempted to apprehend the pair
at their hideout, located at 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive.
However, the pair escaped after killing Newton County Constable
John Wesley Harryman and Joplin Police Detective Harry McGinnis. Today,
this historic apartment, called the Joplin Hideout, has has been restored
and decorated in 1930's era decor. It can now be rented by visitors by the
night, weekend or by the week.
After World War II, most of the mines were closed, and the population
growth leveled off; however, this became the time of the most extensive
travel along Route 66,
as Americans found themselves with more leisure time than ever before.
Unforunately, in the 1960's and 1970's, nearly 40 acres of the city's
downtown were razed in the name of progress. Some of these included the
Connor and Keystone Hotels, and
historic views still exist
including the House of Lords Saloon at 407
Main Street, the Newman Mercantile Store building, a landmark since
1910, and now called home to
Joplin's City Hall, the Frisco Depot, a one time
House and Railroad office building that has been converted to
apartments, as well as the Union Depot, and the Fox Theater.
On May 6, 1971,
Joplin was struck by a severe tornado resulting in one
death and 50 injuries, along with major damage to many houses and
businesses. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the last time. On May 22, 2011,
the city was struck by an even more devastating tornado, killing at
least 158 people, injured 1,150 others and caused damages of $2.8
Billion. It was the deadliest tornado strike in the US since 1947, the
seventh deadliest overall on record, and the costliest single tornado in
U.S. History (as of 2012).
Today, Joplin is called home to about 50,000
people. At the
Museum Complex in Schifferdecker Park, you can see two museums that
tell the story of
Joplin's history. The Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum
displays a variety of historic items, including a 1927 fire engine and
the Tri-State Mineral Museum houses one of the world’s largest
collections of lead and zinc ore, as well as mining tools and
equipment. Both are located at Fourth Street and Schifferdecker
Avenue. The historic
66 Barber Shop sits on the corner of Utica St. and Euclid Avenue, and
numerous vintage signs can be seen along or nearby the old Mother Road.
As you head out of
you will glimpse several old vintage pubs along the short drive to the
State line and on to
of America, updated August, 2015.
Joplin suffers deadly tornado on 05-22-2011.
Wikipedia Facts on 2011 Joplin Tornado
Joplin Tornado Recovery Face Book Page
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