1893 World’s Fair: Joplin By the Numbers

In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition (commonly referred to as the World’s Fair) was held in Chicago, Illinois. As was common at the time, the state of Missouri sent exhibits to demonstrate its agricultural and geological wealth for the masses. An official catalogue, Missouri at the World’s Fair, was distributed to fairgoers.

One of the entries in the catalogue was sent by the Joplin Club in an effort to promote the city to new audience outside of what was then commonly referred to as the “The history of the lead and zinc mining industry of Southwest Missouri is the history of Joplin,” the entry declared, noting that although the city had once been a “straggling mining camp” it was now “a well-built city of 18,000 souls.” Joplin, it boasted, would not only remain the “commercial metropolis of the ore fields, but become the great gateway…of the regions lying south and southwest.”

Should one be interested in relocating to Joplin, the club bragged that, “Joplin is essentially a mining town, but it has none of the disagreeable characteristics which Western mining camps possess, nor is it cursed with pauper labor. The people are Americans.”

The Joplin Club provided the following statistics:
Population of the city of Joplin, 1891: 17, 389
Corporate area of the city in square miles: 12.5
Number of miles of macadamized streets in city: 45
Number of miles of sidewalks: 35
Number of miles of electric street railway: 8
Number of water mains: 26
Number of gas mains: 13
Number of miles of electric light wire: 135
Number of telephone subscribers: 153
Number of wholesale houses (businesses): 14
Number of retail houses (businesses): 314
Number of manufactories: 22
Number of flour mills (475 barrels per day): 2
Number of high schools (cost $40,000): 2
Number of ward schools: 11
Number of school children in city: 5,263
Number of churches: 12 – 3 Methodist, 3 Presbyterian, 2 Baptist, 1 Congregational, 1 Episcopal, 1 Christian, 1 German Lutheran, 1 Catholic.
Number of opera houses: 2
Number of daily papers: 3
Number of railways: 6 — 2 divisions of the St. Louis & San Francisco, the Joplin division of the Missouri Pacific, the Joplin division of the Kansas City, Fort Scott, & Memphis, and the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf.
Number of rail cars unloaded at Joplin in 1891 (15 tons each): 17,159


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or create a trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “1893 World’s Fair: Joplin By the Numbers”


  • Comment from Union Depot groupie

    Hmmm. I’m noticing that they didn’t count the black churches in their list. Reminds me of a 1937 Joplin City Directory that boasts about all that Joplin has to offer, including the pure European stock of its citizenry. It’s obvious what they meant by that!

  • Comment from Brown

    Good catch, Union Depot groupie! Joplin wasn’t the only town in Southwest Missouri which advertised itself through the lens of race and nativity. Though, it’s a bit disappointing a town of its size felt the need to do so! As well, one of the aspects that the Joplin mining district was proud of was the lack of those foreigner miners (who caused all that trouble over in Kansas).


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>