Tri State Mining District
The Tri State Mining District was an economical staple for Joplin and the surrounding area for a century. The discovery of lead and zinc in Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, and Northeast Oklahoma started off modest, but rapidly turned into the largest mining operation for lead and zinc in the world. Through all of these discoveries came droves of people, jobs, and the emergence of a one of a kind culture. This paper will discuss the emergence of an economy, a central operating location, and a society that could only be found in Midwestern mining towns.
The Tri State Mining District was first commercially tapped for lead and zinc around 1850[i]. From 1850 to 1859 the district amassed over $1,153,000 in lead production, making the future seem very bright for the miners of the area. Then with the outbreak of the civil war and the Missouri-Kansas feuds, which later became known as Bleeding Kansas, mining in the district went dormant. The dormancy period went on for five years from 1860-1865 and led to many years of economic success. Before diving into more of the economic aspects of the district, it is important to understand the physical area of the Tri State Mining District. The District was an area of 1,188 square miles; the eastern boundary stretched all the way to Wentworth, Missouri to the Neosho River near Chetopa, Kansas in the west. The north fork of the Spring River near Neck City, Missouri was the northern boundary, while Miami, Oklahoma and Newtonia, Missouri in the southwest and due south boundaries[ii]. This region made up the Tri State Mining District.
As is the case with every mining area, there has to be a central location of operation to conduct business. The town of Blytheville, Missouri was founded in 1838 by John C. Cox. The town began to gain inhabitants, and after about a year, the town welcomed Harris Joplin. Joplin was a Methodist minister who the name of the present day...