|This 1906 tinted postcard shows a bustling intersection in downtown Joplin. The picture displays four electric trolleys following each other on Main Street past the Keystone Hotel. As part of the Southwest Missouri Railway, Joplin’s electric interurban trolley system connected the city’s neighborhoods and linked Joplin with other mining towns in Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma, and Southeast Kansas.|
Joplin’s location on the trolley line positioned the city as a transportation hub of the tri-state mining region. Founded in 1873 as a lead and zinc mining town, Joplin quickly grew and acquired a two-mule car line that would become the Southwest Missouri Railway. In 1893, railway founder Alfred H. Rodgers electrified the 10-mile track. Over the following decades, the line gained 74 miles with several branch lines and industrial switches. The Southwest Missouri Railway system was considered one of the best in Missouri and the Midwest.
Changes in transportation in the first half of the twentieth century brought an end to Joplin’s interurban railway. Increased personal ownership of automobiles and a focus on funding roads rather than public transportation decreased streetcar travel in the 1930s. These conditions forced the Southwest Missouri Railway to end service in 1936. The company removed its last tracks from Joplin three years later. Joplin, however, has remained a transportation and regional center. By the 1970s, the emergence of a national highway system connected Joplin to cities across Missouri and the United States. Today, Joplin is a regional hub and shipping center for agricultural goods, with several trucking companies headquarters located in the city.
Categories: Cities & Towns
Subject: Trolley cars--Missouri--Joplin; Main Street (Joplin, Mo.);
Collection Name: Joplin Historic Postcards
Contributing Institution: Joplin Public Library
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