Neosho, Missouri 1 of 11 St. Louis--Metro Missouri areas with Active Retirement Communities Locations.
Active Retirement Communities
Neosho, officially the City
of Neosho is the most populous city in and the county seat of Newton County, Missouri, United States. Neosho is an
integral part of the Joplin, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Located in southwestern Missouri on the southern
edge of the Midwest, Neosho lies at the
western edge of the Missouri Ozarks. The population was
10,505 at the time of the 2000 census.
The name "Neosho" is generally accepted to be of
Native American (most likely
Osage) derivation, meaning
"clear, cold water", referring to local freshwater springs. The springs
attracted varying cultures of Native American inhabitants for thousands of
years. It was also ideal for the later European-American settlers, who founded
their style of city in 1833. It was
incorporated as a municipal
government in 1878. Nicknamed "City of Springs", Neosho has served as an
agricultural center and more recently as a National Fish Hatchery.
Neosho is known locally as "Gateway to the Ozarks" and, since the 1957, as
"the Flower Box City".
Neosho natives such as the painter and Regionalist muralist Thomas Hart Benton,
ragtime composer and pianist
James Scott, and the
celebrated African-American inventor and botanist George Washington Carver
have contributed to American life. Today, Neosho is enjoying a renaissance,
particularly in the historic downtown area. Through a combination of private
investment and public resources, numerous restoration and revitalization
projects have been undertaken in the historic city center to restore its
architectural quality, upgrade the infrastructure, and generally improve the
quality of life of downtown. Due to 21st-century widespread economic problems in
the region and state, the city is struggling with its
Neosho is developing research to support America's
transition to alternative energy. Neosho's
Crowder College has been
deeply involved in research since the early 1980s; it built the first solar-powered vehicle to
successfully complete a coast-to-coast journey across the United States in 1984.
In the spring of 2009, the college is scheduled to break ground on the MARET
(Missouri Alternative & Renewable Energy Technology) Center, a facility to
encourage the development of experimental programs and alternative energy
During these early years the entire area was called "Six Bulls", a
coloquialization of "six boils", referring to several large streams flowing
through the area, including Shoal Creek, Center Creek, Indian Creek, Spring
River, and North Fork.
During the 1840s, mining became a part of
Neosho when lead was discovered.
Neosho's early commercial development was dominated by lead and zinc mining and Newton
County established one of Missouri's earliest commercial operations. Lead was
transported by wagon from Neosho to Indian Territory, then
shipped down the Arkansas River and Mississippi River to
By special act passed on August 3, 1854, Congress
laid out a monthly Pony Express mail route from
Neosho to Albuquerque, New Mexico with
an annual budget of $17,000. Although following the Mexican-American War, this
region had come to be of great commercial and military importance, the line was
not a commercial success. In March of the following year the route was changed
to run from Independence, Missouri to
Stockton, California, via
During the entire course of the Civil War the county was
overrun by both Union and Confederate forces. Severe
engagements were fought in and around Neosho, Newtonia, and Granby, some places
repeatedly, while frequent skirmishes occurred between
small groups and raids by predatory parties
were a frequent occurrence. The schools were all closed during the war and most
of the school buildings were destroyed.
The new courthouse was occupied by troops of both
Union and Confederate troops during the war and was destroyed about 1862. The
county records were later found intact in a cell in the jail where they were
concealed by R.W. Ellis, the county clerk in 1861, before he departed to join
the Confederate Army. On July 2, 1861, during the Civil War, the Neosho State
Guards Captain Henderson Jennings assisted in the capture of Captain Conrad and
a company of Colonel Sigel's Third Missouri Infantry Regiment which had recently
occupied Neosho taking quarters in the courthouse.
General Sterling Price made an effort to reorganize
a Confederate campaign in Missouri, but any chance for concerted pro-Southern
action ended when he was defeated in March 1862 at Pea Ridge.
In the 1882, after the vineyards of France, Spain, and Portugal were struck by the
deadly phylloxera louse, it was
determined that grapes bred by Neosho winemaker Hermann Jaeger were
resistant to the louse. His work proved to be a savior for the great vineyards
of Europe. Working with other scholars and grape growers, Jaeger supplied
cuttings from his Monark Springs vineyards to help replant those lost in Europe.
For his contribution to the grape and wine industries of France, Jaeger was
awarded the coveted French Legion of Honour, the
highest award that that nation can bestow on a
Neosho is the home of Fort Crowder. Originally
established as Camp Crowder south of town in 1941 at the height of World War II, the post was
to serve as an armored training center. By 1943 the army had acquired 42,786.41
acres (173.151 km2) in Newton and McDonald counties. As the
facility was constructed, it was re-designated as a U.S. Army Signal Corps
training center. It was named for Enoch Crowder, a Missouri
general who was instrumental in developing the draft for World War I and the
Selective Service. The post
also served as an infantry replacement center; later in the war, it had a small
German prisoner-of-war detention
Some of the soldiers stationed at Camp Crowder
included Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Mort Walker, Tillman Franks, and
Jean Shepherd. Writers for
the 1960s-era The Dick Van Dyke Show,
made the post the setting where Rob and Laura Petrie, portrayed by actors Dick
Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, met; Rob
was a sergeant in Special Services and Laura was a USO dancer.
The camp was well-known to its residents for being
muddy and swampy during the rainy season. The cartoonist Mort Walker, who
was stationed there, later used it for his fictional "Camp Swampy" in his
long-running newspaper comic strip,
Camp Crowder was deactivated in 1951. While the core
of the post was retained, many of the temporary barracks were declared surplus
and sold. The base's movie theatre was disassembled and reassembled on the
campus of what is today the University of Missouri -- Kansas City. It served as the Kansas
City Playhouse until being torn down for a new
theatre. A portion of its wall, whihch contains statues of Comedy and Tragedy, are landmarks on
the university campus. Neosho obtained the permanent barracks as surplus and
adapted them as the core of the community college campus for Crowder College.
Since 1957, Neosho has been locally well-known as
"The Flower Box City"; that year it earned the All-America City Award for
its beautification efforts. In 1955 the town had received a $5,000 grant from
the New York Community Trust for
that purpose. Local companies provided lumber at cost, and the Jaycees formed an assembly line to build more
than 200 wooden flower boxes. Pet Milk Company donated 400
used wooden barrels for container gardens, and town nurseries supplied plants at
reduced rates. The city dressed up trash cans and parking meters around the
courthouse square with flower baskets.
Neosho earned a coveted All-America City Award from Look magazine and the
National Municipal League.
(The Life magazine photojournalist Wallace
Kirkland covered the 1957 city for the magazine. A life collection of his
photographs from this assignment, many previously unpublished, can be found in
the Life photo archive, hosted
by Google). Since then, the
Flower Box Promotion Committee has supported beautification and awarded 'Beauty
Spot' prizes each spring and summer to homes and businesses with outstanding
yards, flower gardens, and flower boxes.
In the early 1950s, local congressman Dewey Jackson Short, senior
member of the House Armed Services Committee, secured authorization and some funding to build two permanent
barracks and a disciplinary barracks to reactivate the former Camp Crowder as a
permanent installation, Fort Crowder. Its mission was to be the Army's military police training
school. After Short's defeat in the 1956 election, the fort was
About 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of the
post was turned over to the U. S. Air Force, which
constructed Plant 65. The rocket engine manufacturing facility was operated by
contract to North American Aviation,
later known as Rocketdyne. This facility
became Rocketdyne's primary manufacturing and testing complex for the H-1 rocket engine, used by
the Saturn I and Saturn IB rockets. These
rockets were used in NASA's Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
programs until its contract ended in 1968.
The Springs of
Neosho has many springs. Big Spring, Neosho's largest, is located
near the historic downtown in the city's main park, Big Spring Park. This spring
issues at the base of a high bluff of Mississippian limestone from a series of
cavernous openings developed along a bedding plane, and flows through the city
park. Many other springs can still be found throughout the city, including
Bell's Iron Spring and Hobo Springs.
Bartholic, Elm, Hearrell, and McMahon Springs supply
water to the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. Hearrell produces nearly the same
volume of water as Big Spring. The combined flow of these four springs is about
2,000,000 gallons per day as it arrives at the hatchery. While Hearrell Spring arises at the
hatchery, water from the other springs is piped several miles by pipeline from
their originas to the hatchery.
Bell's Iron Spring -- also known as Walbridge Spring, 900 feet
(270 m) east of the Big Spring, rising in the valley and capable of
supplying a city of 50,000 people.
Brock's Spring -- on the eastern line of
Sevier's Springs -- two soft water springs just south of Brock's
Carter & Clark Springs -- in the northern part of town. Considered
by early residents to have medicinal
Bethesda Spring -- in the northeast section. Historically notable for
its purported healing properties. The water is always about 75 °F (24 °C),
soft and clear.
Birch Spring -- a strong spring just south of the Bethesda
Merlin (or Mertin) Springs -- three springs north of the Bethesda
spring, rushing from beneath the cliff and each producing a different
McElhany Springs -- forming a bold stream of freestone water in the
western part of the town.
Hobo Spring -- also known as Williams Spring, west of
Neosho lies near the geographic center of the
contiguous United States, in an area with a high concentration of freshwater
streams and lakes. This makes for a humid continental climate
(Köppen climate classification Dfa) with moderate precipitation and extremes of hot and cold.
Summers can be very humid, with moist air riding up from the Gulf of Mexico, and during
July and August daytime highs can reach into the triple digits. Winters vary
from mild days to bitterly cold, with lows reaching into the teens below zero a
few times a year.
Neosho is situated in "Tornado Alley", a broad
region where cold air from the Rocky Mountains and
Canada collides with warm
air from the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the formation of powerful storms. Neosho
has had many severe outbreaks of tornados, including an EF4 tornado hit the Neosho area on May
10, 2008 and traveled about 80 miles (130 km) in 2 states, as well as a
major tornado that caused massive destruction on April 24, 1975 with three
killed, many injured. The region is also prone to ice storms, such as the
2007 ice storm during which
hundreds of thousands lost power for days and (in some cases) weeks. The White
House declared 34 counties in Missouri disaster areas. Damage in Missouri
totaled $352.9 million (2007 USD).
Neosho, elevation 1,035 feet
(315 m), is located in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri.
Newton County Historical Society
Thomas Hart Benton Collection
Neosho National Fish Hatchery -- oldest operating Federal Fish
Big Spring Park
Income & Housing Costs
Estimated median household income in 2009: $34,264 (it was $31,225 in
per capita income in 2009: $16,652
Neosho city income, earnings, and wages
house or condo value in 2009: $89,740 (it was $64,700 in 2000)
prices in 2009: All housing units: $106,738; Detached houses: $107,852;
Townhouses or other attached units: $117,226; In 2-unit structures: $37,926; In
5-or-more-unit structures: $131,017; Mobile homes: $20,909
rent in 2009: $485.
Jan. 2011 cost of living index in Neosho: 83.6 (less than
average, U.S. average is 100)
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