Joplin, Missouri

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Joplin, Missouri
—  City  —
Aerial view of downtown Joplin, 2009
Motto: "Proud of Our Past...Shaping Our Future'"
Jasper County Missouri Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Joplin Highlighted.svg
Location in the state of Missouri
Coordinates: 37°5′3″N 94°30′47″W / 37.08417, -94.51306Coordinates: 37°5′3″N 94°30′47″W / 37.08417, -94.51306
Country United States
State Missouri
Counties Jasper, Newton
Incorporated 1873
 • Mayor Mike Woolston
 • 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 (2010)[1]
 • Total 50,150
 • Density 1,600/sq mi (610/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 64801-64804
Area code(s) 417
FIPS code 29-37592[2]
GNIS feature ID 0729911[3]

Joplin is a city in southern Jasper County and northern Newton County in the southwestern corner of the US state of Missouri. Joplin is the largest city in Jasper County, though it is not the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 50,150.[1] In 2009, the surrounding Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated population of 174,300.[4]

Although often believed to have been named for the ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who lived in Sedalia, Missouri, Joplin is named for Reverend Harris Joplin, an early settler and 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 faltered after World War II when the price of the mineral collapsed. The city gained travelers as Route 66 passed through it; "Joplin, Missouri" is among the lyrics to Bobby Troup's legendary song, immortalizing the city among others on the famous highway.

On May 22, 2011, Joplin was struck by an extremely powerful EF-5 tornado, resulting in at least 160 deaths and more than 900 injuries, along with total destruction of thousands of houses, and severe damage to numerous apartments and businesses, St. John's Medical Center, and multiple school buildings.[5]


19th centuryEdit

Main Street, Looking South, Joplin, MO

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.[6] Cox named his village Joplin City after the spring and creek nearby, which had been named for the Reverend Harris G. Joplin, an early settler who founded the first Methodist congregation in the area in mid-century.

The Carthage resident Patrick Murphy filed a plan for a city on the opposite side of the valley and named it Murphysburg.[7] While the nearest sheriff was in Carthage, frontier lawlessness abounded in Joplin and the historic period was referred to as the "Reign of Terror". The cities eventually merged into Union City, but when the merger was found illegal, the two cities split. Murphy suggested that a combined city be named Joplin. The cities merged again on March 23, 1873, this time permanently, as the City of Joplin.[8]

While Joplin was first settled for lead mining, zinc, often referred to as "jack", was the mineral resource on which the town built its economy. As railroads connected Joplin to major markets in other cities, it was on the verge of dramatic growth. By the turn of the century, the city was becoming a regional metropolis. Construction centered around Main Street, with many bars, hotels, and fine homes nearby. Joplin's three-story "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 mining capital of the world.

As a result of extensive surface and deep mining, Joplin is dotted with open pit mines and mine shafts. Mining left many tailings piles (small hills of ground rock), which are considered unsightly locally. The open pit mines pose both hazards, but some find them to have a kind of beauty as well. The main part of Joplin 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.

20th centuryEdit

Panorama of Joplin, circa 1910

Joplin began to add cultural amenities; in 1902 residents passed a tax to create a public library, and gained matching funds that enabled them to build the Carnegie Library. It was seen as the symbol of a thriving city. In 1930 the grand commercial Electric Theater was built, one of the many movie palaces of the time. It was later bought and renamed the Fox by Fox Theatres corporation. With the Depression and post-World War II suburban development, moviegoing declined at such large venues.

In 1933 during the Great Depression, the notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde spent some weeks in Joplin, where they robbed several area businesses. Tipped off by a neighbor, the Joplin Police Department attempted to apprehend the pair. Bonnie and Clyde escaped after killing Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman and Joplin Police Detective Harry McGinnis; however, they were forced to leave most of their possessions behind, including a camera.[9] The Joplin Globe developed and printed the film, which showed now-legendary photos of Bonnie's holding Clyde at mock gunpoint, and of Bonnie with her foot on a car fender, posed with a pistol in her hand and cigar in her mouth. The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation nominated the house where the couple stayed, at 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive, for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 2009.

After World War II, most of the mines were closed, and population growth leveled off. The main road through Joplin running east and west was designated as part of US Route 66, which became famous as more Americans took to newly constructed highways. The roads provided improved access between cities but also drew off population to newer housing and eventually retail centers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, nearly 40 acres (16 hectares) of the city's downtown were razed in an attempt at urban renewal, as population and businesses had moved to a suburban fringe along newly constructed highways. The Connor and Keystone hotels were notable historic structures that were demolished, as was the Liberty Building. Christman's Department Store stands (converted into loft apartments), as is the Joplin Union Depot, since railroad restructuring and the decline in passenger traffic led to its closure. Other notable historic structures in Joplin include the Carnegie Library, Fred and Red's Diner, the House of Lords, the Frisco Depot, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the Crystal Cave (filled in and used for a parking lot). The Newman Mercantile Store has been adapted for use as City Hall. The Fox Theatre has been adapted for use as the Central Christian Center.

On May 5, 1971, Joplin was struck by a severe tornado, resulting in one death and 50 injuries, along with major damage to many houses and businesses.[10]

21st centuryEdit

The city has two major hospitals, St. John's Regional Medical Center and Freeman Health System, which serve the region. The city has a park system including a golf course, three swimming pools, walking trails, the world's largest remaining globally unique Chert Glades and Missouri's first Audubon Nature Center located in Wildcat Park. A waterfall, Grand Falls, is 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 in Joplin have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their historic and architectural significance.[11] Recently, the city has undertaken a project to revitalize its Main Street downtown district. It has refurbished sidewalks and added new lamp posts to highlight the historic center of the city.

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 FAG 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 1990s, the city continued to expand eastward toward U.S. 71 (future I-49). Large-scale development occurred along Range Line Road, particularly around Northpark Mall. Numerous suburbs adjacent to the city include 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 attracts travelers and is a destination for conferences and group events. Joplin offers nearly 2,500 hotel rooms, the majority located within a 1/4 mile area of Range Line and I-44. It has 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.

Each June, Joplin hosts the Boomtown Run, a half marathon, 5k. and kids run. The event attracts runners from across the country, and features USTA certified courses which start and end in the historic downtown area. Celebrity runners featured at the pre-race banquet have included Bart Yasso, Sarah Reinerston, Suzy Favor-Hamilton, and Jeff Galloway. In 2011, due to the devastating EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, just three weeks before the run, the event was transformed in the Boomtown Run Day of Service. More than 270 individuals registered for the race after the tornado struck, knowing their proceeds would benefit tornado recovery. On June 11, approximately 320 registered runners and volunteers turned out to help clean debris and sort donations, contributing more than 1,200 hours of service.

On July 1, 2011, radio host Rush Limbaugh announced that Joplin would be the first recipient of his "Two If By Tea" Independence Day extravaganza. Selected above over 3,000 applicants, Joplin received a free refrigerated truckload of Limbaugh's own brand of tea, "Two If By Tea" for their Independence Day Celebrations. Limbaugh, a "compassionate conservative" and Missouri native, partially chose Joplin because of the recent tornado tragedy. At the event on July 4 at Landreth Park in Joplin, Limbaugh gave an impassioned, non-partisan speech emphasizing American exceptionalism, and a good time (and a lot of tea) was had by one and all. A portion of the profits from "Two If By Tea" benefit the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.

May 2011 tornadoEdit


Map of the area affected by the tornado of May 22, 2011.


On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado first touched down near the western edge of the city among large, newer homes, at about 5:41 pm CDT (2241 UTC) and tracked eastward across the city and across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Newton and Lawrence counties. It was reported to have been about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) in width and 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long. About 8,000 houses, 18,000 cars, and 450 businesses were flattened or blown away in Joplin, particularly in the section between 13th and 32nd Streets across the southern part of the city. The tornado narrowly missed the downtown area. St. John's Regional Medical Center was significantly damaged, with many windows and the exterior walls damaged, and the upper floors destroyed. A total of 160 people died from tornado-related injuries as of the end of July, 2011. The Weather Channel video showed entire neighborhoods flattened. Communications were lost and power was knocked out to many areas.[12] An official statement from the National Weather Service has categorized the Joplin tornado as an EF5.[13][14][15][16] On Sunday, May 29, 2011, President Barack Obama, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and FEMA Director Craig Fugate visited and toured Joplin to see what the damage looked like and attended a memorial service for the deceased. Later that day, the city held a moment of silence at 5:41 pm, to mark the time the tornado struck. The area was declared a federal disaster area.


Joplin is located at 37°4′40″N 94°30′40″W / 37.07778, -94.51111 (37.077760, −94.511024).[17] 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.

Joplin is located north of Highway I-44, its passage to the west into Oklahoma. In recent years, the residential development of Joplin have spread north to about Webb City. US Route 66 passes through Joplin. Joplin is mentioned in the song "Route 66".

Climate Edit

Joplin has a humid subtropical climate, with mild to cold winters and hot, humid summers. Joplin is situated in "Tornado Alley", a broad region where cold air from Canada collides with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and dry air from the lee of the Rocky Mountains, leading to the formation of powerful supercell thunderstorms from which the tornadoes spawn.

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


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 7,038
1890 9,943 41.3%
1900 26,023 161.7%
1910 32,073 23.2%
1920 29,902 −6.8%
1930 33,454 11.9%
1940 37,144 11.0%
1950 38,711 4.2%
1960 38,958 0.6%
1970 39,256 0.8%
1980 39,126 −0.3%
1990 40,961 4.7%
2000 45,504 11.1%
2010 50,150 10.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[2] 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 per square mile (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.


Primary and secondary educationEdit

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.[19] 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.[20] Joplin also has many private schools, such as College Heights Christian School, Martin Luther School, and more. St. Mary's Catholic Elementary School, St. Peter's Middle School, McAuley Regional High School are private Catholic schools established in 1885. There is also one Independent School, Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, which has been running since 1993.[21]


The Joplin College of Physicians and Surgeons operated from 1880 to 1884. Today Joplin is home to Missouri Southern State University, founded in 1937 as a junior college and expanded in the following decades. There are two Bible colleges, Ozark Christian College and Messenger College.


Joplin is served by the Joplin Public Library, which is situated on Main Street between the intersections of 3rd and 4th Streets.


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 to the north and Ft. Smith, AR to the south. Highway 71 is currently being converted to Interstate 49 and is expected to be completed by 2012.[22][23] 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.

Joplin once boasted an extensive trolley and inter-urban rail system. Today, part of the city is served by the Sunshine Lamp Trolley, which commenced service in July, 2007, and expanded to 3 routes in 2009.

In addition, the Joplin Regional Airport provides multiple daily roundtrip flights to Dallas/Fort Worth operated by American Eagle Airlines.


Schifferdecker Home

1890 Schifferdecker Home in Joplin, 2010.

Joplin Carnegie Library

Carnegie Library in Joplin, 2009.

Scottish Rite Cathedral in Joplin

Scottish Rite Cathedral in Joplin, 2010.

People born in Joplin, MissouriEdit



Historic district at 5th and Main in Joplin, 2010.

Joplin Downtown Historic District

Historic district at 6th and Main, looking North, 2010.

  1. ^ a b "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Joplin, MO MSA Population and Components of Change". Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "City official: Joplin tornado death toll at 153". Kansas City Star. June 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ Dolph Shaner, The Story of Joplin (New York, New York: Stratford House, 1948), 20.
  7. ^ Shaner, Joplin, 21.
  8. ^ Shaner, Joplin, 31 – 33.
  9. ^ "Court TV, CrimeLab website, page on Bonnie and Clyde". Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Joplin Tornado", Joplin Public Library
  11. ^ "Historic Preservation Commission is revitalized". Joplin Independent. January 5, 2006. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Powerful tornadoes kill at least 31 in U.S. Midwest". Reuters. May 22, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ Unattributed (May 23, 2011). "Five families rescued, 158 dead in Joplin". United Press International. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Tornado Strikes Joplin; major damage reported". May 23, 2011.,0,7268775.story. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Joplin tornado death toll jumps to 89; The Wichita Eagle; May 22, 2011". May 23, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ By the CNN Wire Staff (May 23, 2011). "116 dead in from tornado in Joplin, Missouri; number expected to rise". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  18. ^ "Monthly Averages for Joplin, MO". May 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  19. ^ Joplin Schools Website, School Information
  20. ^ Joplin Schools Website, New Middle School Plan Approved by Voters
  21. ^ "Thomas Jefferson school website". Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "I-49 Maps and Information". February 23, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ "I-49 Coming to Missouri". August 4, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Darryl R. Matthews, Sr. Elected General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.". Jet Magazine. February 7, 2005. 
  25. ^ Pemberton, Mary (April 9, 2009). "Journalist William J. Tobin dies at age 81". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 

External linksEdit

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May 2011 Tornado

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Joplin, Missouri. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
Facts about Joplin, MissouriRDF feed
Latitude37.084 + and 37.078 +
Longitude-94.513 + and -94.511 +

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