One hundred years ago, the lights of stores lining Joplin’s main street blazed brightly as shoppers and spectators strolled the sidewalks in search of the perfect gift despite a mix of rain and snow. Merchants kept their doors open long after regular hours in the hope of attracting more customers and did so with success. Many businesses reported that the last few hours saw the “heaviest trade” of the season with people coming from all over the Four State region to peruse their wares.
The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad, sometimes referred to as the “May Never Arrive” because of its chronic tardiness, offered a special Christmas shopping excursion to passengers in Harrison and Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An estimated two hundred Arkansawyers took advantage of the opportunity and caught the 4:30 a.m. train to Joplin, arriving on time at 10:30 a.m., and immediately headed to Main Street. Trains left Joplin bearing “hundreds of bundle-laden passengers.”
Churches throughout the city celebrated the birth of Christ with special programs and charitable organizations worked to ensure that even the poor were remembered and able to “forget their condition” for a brief time. Clothes, food, and toys were distributed to those in need.
The majority of businesses reported they would be closed on Christmas, but mail carriers would have to make their rounds as usual. The city collector and the county sheriff announced their offices would be open, but all other city employees had the day off.
*On a personal note, we here at Historic Joplin have much to be grateful for and ask that if you can, please remember those who are less fortunate this Christmas. Please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice or to a local food bank to help those in need.