Discover St. Jo

You’ll always feel right at home in St. Joseph, Missouri

Interesting Facts about St. Joseph

St. Joseph has had a number of distinctions during its early history:

  • The first train from the east arrived here February 14, 1859. Until after the Civil War, St. Joseph was the westernmost point accessible by rail.
  • By 1900, St. Joseph was receiving more than 100 passenger trains a day.
  • The Pony Express began here April 3, 1860.
  • The notorious Jesse James was assassinated April 3, 1882 by Robert Ford after setting up residence to plan more bank holdups.
  • In 1887, St. Joseph became the second city in the U.S. (Richmond, Virginia, was the first) to have electric streetcars.
  • In 1889, the city hosted the New Era Exposition, in hopes of being chosen as the site for a future World’s Fair. A disastrous fire destroyed much of the fair, caused financial ruin for its major backers and ended any hope of attracting a World’s Fair.
  • Wholesale houses—shoes, dry goods and hardware were among the major ones—boosted St. Joseph’s prosperity during its Golden Age of the late 19th century. St. Joseph at one time ranked fourth in the nation for dry goods sales and fifth in hardware.
  • St. Joseph had its first telephone exchange in 1879. When the city was linked with the Atchison, Kansas exchange in 1881, it marked the first inter-city connection west of Buffalo, New York.
  • Livestock has been a major part of St. Joseph’s economy since 1846. Swift and Armour were the dominant names through the first six decades of this century, when employment totals were 6,000 or more for the industry here.
  • St. Joseph was the 2nd largest city in Missouri during the Civil War.