Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Springfield's Growth

Living in Joplin and not getting to Springfield on as regular a basis as I used to, I am struck by Springfield's growth, when I do visit the town, perhaps as much as or more than many of the people who live there. I recall, for instance, that when I first moved to Joplin in the mid 1970s, the traffic here (along Range Line as an example) was almost as bad as Springfield traffic. That is no longer the case and has not been the case for a long time. Going to Springfield is like going to a big city. Also the pattern of heaviest traffic in Springfield has changed or grown over the years. It used to be along Glenstone and Sunshine. Now streets like Campbell and Battlefield seem to have at least as much traffic as Glenstone and Sunshine.
The increased vehicular traffic, of course, is due to the town's population growth. When I was a kid growing up in Fair Grove during the 1950s, Springfield was a town of about 65,000. The city limits were defined for all practical purposes by Sunshine Street on the south, Glenstone on the east, Kearney on the north, and somewhere around what is now Kansas Expressway on the west. Obviously there were scattered residences beyond these streets, and the city limits signs (and thus the actual city limits) were farther out. However, the large majority of the businesses and homes were within the limits I've mentioned. By 1964 when I moved to Springfield, this had already started changing. The area of southeast Springfield around Glendale High School, for instance, had already been developed and was still being developed. (Although Hillcrest High School, built in the late 1950s, also lay outside the lines I mentioned, the growth of Springfield north of Kearney where Hillcrest was located did not approach the growth in the south part of the town.) By the late sixties, the growth in the southern part of the town had shifted to the southwest, where Kickapoo High School was shortly afterwards built. Somewhere along the line, though, this, too, changed, because nowadays the growth of Springfield seems to be taking place in almost all directions. The population of the place is approximately triple what it was in the 1950s when I first became acquaintd with the town.
If we go back even farther than my memory, the changes in Springfield have been even more dramatic. For instance, at the time of the Civil War, Springfield was a town of about 2,000, and its limits were defined, generally speaking, by Grand on the south, Grant on the west, Chestnut on the north, and Benton on the east. For instance, the area of Phelps Grove Park (where the John S. Phelps farm was located) was well outside town. Today, I would consider it to be in the central part of the city. My, how things have changed!


Anonymous Joe said...

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January 6, 2012 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...


January 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM  

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