A Car Accident

A sketch of one of Joplin's early car accidents.

“Great Excitement prevailed for a time, but this soon subsided…” In 1906, automobiles were still a new and intriguing sight on the streets of Joplin. The motorized fire engines were still a dream and the road mainly belonged to horse drawn buggies, wagons and trolleys. Thus, it was still quite a newsworthy event when one of the new machines accidentally plowed through the front of A.C. Webb’s automobile establishment at 2nd and Joplin street. A Joplin paper described the event:

“The automobile has always been noted for its liability to do things, but this characteristic was fully demonstrated yesterday afternoon when a runabout of this make crashed…tearing down a large portion of the building, breaking the glass in both windows and doors and not injuring the machine in the least.”

The unfortunate driver was Gus Mattes who had attempted to drive the vehicle into Webb’s shop but instead failed to slow down and completely missed the entrance, but did not miss the brick wall (“with great force.”) Surprisingly, despite the fact that Webb’s shop had suffered damage described alternatively as “demolished” and “splintered” the actual automobile received only a “crack in the glass of one of the lamps.” Before the day was done, the shop was already under repair, and undoubtedly, Mr. Mattes’ vehicle as well.

Incidentally, A.C. Webb’s shop was only a few blocks away from the Joplin Fire Department. When Joplin firemen responded to a fire a couple years later behind a steering wheel, its creator was Webb.

Joplin’s First Speeding Ticket

Just after the turn of the century, Joplin attorney Fred Basom received the first speeding ticket issued in Joplin. He was “hailed by an officer of the law while out for a spin,” after the mayor’s recent instructions to the police department to arrest drivers who violated Joplin’s city ordinance that set the speed limit at six miles an hour. The news item did not explain how fast Mr. Basom was going when he was ticketed or what the fine was for breaking the speed limit, but it can be expected that attorney Basom was able to secure adequate representation for his police court appearance.

Source: Joplin News Herald