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Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Rodgers Theatre Building (Art Deco architecture)
Rodgers Theatre Building (Art Deco architecture)
Nickname(s): 
Gateway to the Ozarks, The Bluff, PB
Motto(s): 
A Community of Opportunity
Location of Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Location of Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Country United States
State Missouri
County Butler
Government
 • Type Council-Manager
Area
 • Total 13.21 sq mi (34.22 km2)
 • Land 13.14 sq mi (34.03 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)
Elevation
361 ft (110 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 16,225
 • Density 1,289.06/sq mi (497.70/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
63901–63902
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-59096
GNIS feature ID 0751712

Poplar Bluff is a small city in Butler County in Southeast Missouri, United States. It is the county seat of Butler County and is known as "The Gateway to the Ozarks" among other names. The population was 16,225 at the 2020 census. The Poplar Bluff Micropolitan Statistical Area consists of all of Butler County. The city is at the crossroads of U.S. Route 60 and U.S. Route 67.

Geography

Poplar Bluff is located at 36°45′25″N 90°23′34″W / 36.75694°N 90.39278°W / 36.75694; -90.39278 (36.756944, −90.392778), along the Black River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.98 square miles (33.62 km2), of which, 12.91 square miles (33.44 km2) is land and 0.07 square miles (0.18 km2) is water.

Poplar Bluff takes its name from a bluff that overlooks Black River. When first settled, the bluff was covered with tulip poplar trees. The Butler County Courthouse and the offices of the city's Daily American Republic newspaper sit on this site. Poplar Bluff lies along an escarpment separating the Ozark Foothills from the Mississippi embayment in Southeast Missouri. The foothills lie to the north and west and the embayment is to the south and east. The surrounding area is commonly known as the "Three Rivers" with many local organizations and businesses using the name. The three rivers—Current River, Black River, and St. Francis River—are 40 miles apart with Poplar Bluff located in the center on the Black River.

History

The French were the first Europeans to assert any territorial rights over the Poplar Bluff area. The French held the area until 1770 when it was ceded by treaty to Spain. Spain held the area until 1802 when it was returned to France. During this time the area of Poplar Bluff, as well as all of Butler County, held almost no European settlements until 1819, when the first white settler family moved into the Poplar Bluff area. It was reported that about 300 Native Americans resided in the area at that time.

The earliest permanent settlements in what is now Butler County occurred in the early 19th century along the Natchitoches Trail, an old Native American Trail west of what is now Poplar Bluff on Ten Mile Creek and Cane Creek. Butler County was organized in 1849 and Poplar Bluff was chosen as the county seat. In 1855 the first courthouse was built and the town grew. On February 9, 1870, Poplar Bluff was incorporated. The Ward Plantation was established as the largest and longest slave plantation in the State of Missouri, founded by Ephraim Ward in 1829 and continued until the end of the civil war in 1865. After the Civil War, Rutherford Ward founded the 1st Bank of Missouri and converted the Ward Plantation into Ward Estate where they focused on farming. It was passed down to his son Wiley Ward who during a time of great prosperity bought most of the town and became its benefactor. After he died it was willed to his son, the industrialist farmer Dewey H. Ward, who in 1986 gifted the house and property to the state and town so it could be converted to a museum showcasing all major events in Poplar Bluff.

In 1927 a tornado leveled most of the city, especially the original business district along Main and Broadway streets.

The Butler County Courthouse, Cynthia-Kinzer Historic District, Alfred W. Greer House, Hargrove Pivot Bridge, Mark Twain School, J. Herbert Moore House, Thomas Moore House, Moore-Dalton House, North Main Street Historic District, John Archibald Phillips House, Poplar Bluff Commercial Historic District, Poplar Bluff Public Library, Rodgers Theatre Building, South Sixth Street Historic District, St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad Depot, St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Depot, Wheatley Public School, Williams-Gierth House, Williamson-Kennedy School, Wright-Dalton-Bell-Anchor Department Store Building, and Zehe Building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 791
1890 2,187 176.5%
1900 4,321 97.6%
1910 6,916 60.1%
1920 8,042 16.3%
1930 7,551 −6.1%
1940 11,163 47.8%
1950 15,064 34.9%
1960 15,926 5.7%
1970 16,653 4.6%
1980 17,139 2.9%
1990 16,996 −0.8%
2000 16,651 −2.0%
2010 17,023 2.2%
2015 (est.) 17,266 1.4%
source:

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 791
1890 2,187 176.5%
1900 4,321 97.6%
1910 6,916 60.1%
1920 8,042 16.3%
1930 7,551 −6.1%
1940 11,163 47.8%
1950 15,064 34.9%
1960 15,926 5.7%
1970 16,653 4.6%
1980 17,139 2.9%
1990 16,996 −0.8%
2000 16,651 −2.0%
2010 17,023 2.2%
2020 16,225 −4.7%
source:

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 17,023 people, 7,181 households, and 4,154 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,318.6 inhabitants per square mile (509.1/km2). There were 8,038 housing units at an average density of 622.6 per square mile (240.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.79% White, 9.97% Black or African American, 0.53% Native American, 0.89% Asian, 0.06% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 2.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.21% of the population.

There were 7,181 households, of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.1% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.94.

The median age in the city was 38.4 years. 24.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.6% were from 25 to 44; 24.6% were from 45 to 64; and 18.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.9% male and 54.1% female.

Climate

Poplar Bluff has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). Winters are cool with occasional snowfalls while summers are hot and humid. Rain is abundant year round, but especially in spring and fall. The coldest month is January with a mean of 34.9 °F (1.6 °C) and the hottest month, July, has a mean of 80.5 °F (26.9 °C). On average, 58 days exceed 90 °F (32 °C) and 2 exceed 100 °F (38 °C). In the winter, an average of 10.6 days fail to exceed freezing, while there are 83 days where lows dip below freezing on average. The hottest temperature on record is 112 °F (44 °C), recorded 3 times in 1901 on July 12, 22, and 23. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −25 °F (−32 °C) on February 13, 1899.

Climate data for Poplar Bluff, Missouri (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1893–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
(25.6)
83
(28.3)
92
(33.3)
94
(34.4)
100
(37.8)
110
(43.3)
112
(44.4)
112
(44.4)
108
(42.2)
96
(35.6)
85
(29.4)
79
(26.1)
112
(44.4)
Average high °F (°C) 44.0
(6.67)
49.3
(9.61)
59.0
(15)
69.9
(21.06)
78.9
(26.06)
87.5
(30.83)
90.5
(32.5)
89.5
(31.94)
82.8
(28.22)
71.9
(22.17)
57.8
(14.33)
47.1
(8.39)
69.0
(20.56)
Daily mean °F (°C) 34.9
(1.61)
39.4
(4.11)
48.5
(9.17)
58.7
(14.83)
68.3
(20.17)
77.3
(25.17)
80.5
(26.94)
79.0
(26.11)
71.7
(22.06)
59.8
(15.44)
47.7
(8.72)
38.2
(3.44)
58.7
(14.83)
Average low °F (°C) 25.8
(-3.44)
29.5
(-1.39)
38.1
(3.39)
47.4
(8.56)
57.6
(14.22)
67.0
(19.44)
70.6
(21.44)
68.5
(20.28)
60.6
(15.89)
47.7
(8.72)
37.5
(3.06)
29.3
(-1.5)
48.3
(9.06)
Record low °F (°C) −23
(-30.6)
−25
(-31.7)
0
(-17.8)
23
(-5)
28
(-2.2)
41
(5)
48
(8.9)
44
(6.7)
31
(-0.6)
17
(-8.3)
4
(-15.6)
−10
(-23.3)
-25
(-31.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.46
(87.9)
3.63
(92.2)
4.77
(121.2)
5.94
(150.9)
5.37
(136.4)
4.29
(109)
4.70
(119.4)
3.65
(92.7)
3.29
(83.6)
4.07
(103.4)
4.80
(121.9)
4.27
(108.5)
52.24
(1,326.9)
Snowfall inches (cm) 0.6
(1.5)
1.6
(4.1)
1.3
(3.3)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.2
(0.5)
1.7
(4.3)
5.4
(13.7)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.7 7.5 10.9 10.4 11.4 8.7 8.4 7.6 6.8 7.8 9.2 8.7 106.1
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.5 0.6 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.4 1.8
Source: NOAA

Transportation

Amtrak provides passenger train service out of the Poplar Bluff station.

The city is at the crossroads of U.S. Route 60 and U.S. Route 67.

Economy

The largest US nail manufacturer, Mid-Continent Steel and Wire, is located in Poplar Bluff. It is one of 15 nail companies in the US, and accounted for half of US nail production as of June 2018. At its peak, the Mexican-owned firm employed about five hundred workers in the area, but as of 2018 uncertainty over steel tariffs threatens the plant's future. On April 3, 2019, Mid-Continent Steel and Wire received a steel tariff exemption, allowing them to maintain their workforce and increase production.

Education

Public schools

The Poplar Bluff R-1 School District serves the educational needs of most of the residents of Poplar Bluff and the surrounding area. There are seven elementary schools, one junior high and one senior high school in the school district. During the 2008–2009 school year, there were 4,934 students and 374 certified staff members enrolled in the Poplar Bluff R-1 School District. The school colors are maroon and white and its mascot is the mule. Athletics offered in the school district include boys' and girls' basketball, soccer, track, cross country, and tennis; boys' baseball, golf, football, swimming and wrestling; and girls' softball, volleyball, cheerleading, wrestling and swimming.

Elementary schools

  • Poplar Bluff Early Childhood Center
  • Poplar Bluff Kindergarten Center
  • O'Neal Elementary
  • Oak Grove Elementary
  • Lake Road Elementary
  • Eugene Field Elementary
  • Poplar Bluff Middle School

Secondary schools

  • Poplar Bluff 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade Center
  • Poplar Bluff Junior High School- 7th and 8th grades
  • Poplar Bluff Senior High School- 9th thru 12th grades
  • Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center

Private schools

  • Sacred Heart Catholic School
  • Thomas M. Lane Seventh-day Adventist Church School
  • Westwood Baptist Academy

Colleges and universities

Three Rivers College is located in Poplar Bluff and provides college courses along with career and technical programs. Three Rivers offers the same freshman and sophomore level classes as many four-year public universities. The school colors are gold and black and its mascot is Rocky Raider. Three Rivers Basketball Coach Gene Bess has been recognized as the NJCAA "all time most winning Junior College coach".

Local News

The Daily American Republic Newspaper is the local news of record for Poplar Bluff with a daily print edition and online news at www.darnews.com

Library

Poplar Bluff has a lending library, the Poplar Bluff Public Library.

Notable people

  • Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, television producer (Designing Women)
  • Christian Boeving, fitness model, bodybuilder and actor
  • Sean Fister, 1995, 2001 and 2005 World Long Drive Champion, inducted to 3 Hall of Fames
  • Leroy Griffith, burlesque theater owner and film producer
  • Tyler Hansbrough, NBA basketball player for the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Hornets
  • Scott Innes, radio broadcaster and voice actor for Scooby-Doo
  • Charles Jaco, CNN reporter
  • Billie G. Kanell, Medal of Honor recipient, United States Army
  • Tim Lollar, professional baseball pitcher
  • Matt Lucas, singer, drummer and songwriter
  • Derland Moore, professional football player
  • Dr. A.K Roberts, poet
  • Mikel Rouse, composer
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