From an iconic American highway to a famed African American scientist, Missouri’s Joplin offers historic marvels for visitors
Contrary to what you might think, Joplin, Missouri, isn’t named for the ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who lived in Sedalia, located about 175 miles away. Rather, this city, located in the Ozarks region of southwestern Missouri, gets its moniker from the Reverend Harris Joplin, an early settler and the founder of the area’s first Methodist congregation.
And so it goes in Joplin, or JOMO as locals call it, where an intriguing mix of people, events and happenstance have come together to create this charming city, rich in one-of-a-kind stories for all those who visit. “The history of Joplin really is a crazy quilt of mining, outlaws, Route 66, boom town prosperity, Civil War, and sports history,” says Visit Joplin’s Kerstin Landwer. “If your group is interested in any type of history, we can create an itinerary to experience it.”
Intrigued? We thought so. Here, we offer three uniquely Joplin places to visit.
Route 66 Corridor
As famous roads go, they don’t get more renowned than Route 66 — and Missouri is home to more than 280 miles of the “Mother Road,” featuring some of the route’s most historic tourist attractions. Spanning the heart of America, Route 66 symbolizes mobility, freedom, and pursuit of the American dream. Running through Downtown Joplin’s historic Main Street, not-to-be-missed features include a Route 66 Mural Park, local restaurants, and shopping, as well as public art, and the new Cornell Complex. Additionally, Joplin is featured in the song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.
Joplin History & Mineral Museum
Founded to help preserve and record Joplin’s history, this museum tells the story of Joplin and the Tri-Sate Mining District through its historical mineral collection. With two distinct museums to explore — The Everett J. Ritchie Tri-Sate Mineral Museum and The Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum — visitors can experience this town’s rich past through different aspects. Displays include a miniature circus room, a child’s playhouse, a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit, a 1927 American LaFrance fire engine, Victorian furnishings, textiles, a doll collection, period mining tools, and internationally noted mineral specimens.
George Washington Carver National Monument
Often referred to as “The Father of the Peanut Industry”, George Washington Carver is much more than his world-renown discoveries and uses for soybeans, pecans, and, yes, peanuts. One of the most prominent African Americans of his time, Carver was born in Missouri during the Civil War. Authorized by Congress in 1943, George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the birthplace and legacy of the famed African American scientist, educator and humanitarian. The Park’s Visitor Center includes a museum, theater, discovery center, and gift shop. Explore Carver’s childhood “lab” along the walking trail, which leads you through the woods to the Boy Carver Statue, across streams to the 1881 Moses Carver House, and through the prairie, past the Carver Family cemetery where Carver’s guardians Moses and Susan are buried.
Main photo courtesy of Visit Joplin, MO.
Visit Joplin, MO
Kerstin Landwer (417) 625-4790