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Poplar Bluff, Missouri


Poplar Bluff, Missouri

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: A Community of Opportunity
Location of Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Location of Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Country United States
State Missouri
County Butler
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Angela Pearson
 • Mayor Pro tem Jack Rushin
 • City Manager (Open)
 • Total 12.98 sq mi (33.62 km2)
 • Land 12.91 sq mi (33.44 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.18 km2)
Elevation 361 ft (110 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 17,023
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 17,169
 • Density 1,318.6/sq mi (509.1/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 63901-63902
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-59096[4]
GNIS feature ID 0751712[5]
Website City of Poplar Bluff, Missouri

Poplar Bluff is a city in Butler County in Southeast Missouri in the United States. It is the county seat of Butler County[6] and is known as "The Gateway to the Ozarks" among other names. The population was 17,023 at the 2010 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 1
  • History 2
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 census 3.1
    • 2000 census 3.2
  • Government 4
  • Education 5
    • Public schools 5.1
    • Private schools 5.2
    • Colleges and universities 5.3
  • Notable people 6
  • Transportation 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Poplar Bluff is located at (36.756944, −90.392778),[7] 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.[1]

Poplar Bluff takes its name from a bluff that overlooks Black River. When first settled, the bluff was covered with Current River, Black River, and St. Francis River—are 40 miles apart with Poplar Bluff located in the center on the Black River.


Hernando de Soto's exploration party were the first European visitors to the Poplar Bluff area. When De Soto crossed the Mississippi River in 1539, he traveled to a point below the mouth of the St. Francis River and eventually passed through present-day Butler County. De Soto and his men traveled through what is now Ash Hill and passed just outside of Poplar Bluff.

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.[8]

In 1927 a tornado leveled most of the city, especially the original business district along Main and Broadway streets.[9]


2010 census

As of the census[2] 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.

2000 census

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 16,651 people, 7,077 households, and 4,295 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,438.9 people per square mile (555.7/km²). There were 7,871 housing units at an average density of 680.2 per square mile (262.7/km²).

The racial makeup of the city was 87.04% White, 9.71% African American, 0.55% Native American, 0.52% Asian, 0.48% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.35% of the population.

There were 7,870 households out of which 52.7% were married couples living together, 20.28% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.3% were non-families. 34.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.9.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.7 years. For every 100 females there were 83.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,068, and the median income for a family was $28,744. The per capita income for the city was $13,996. About 19.3% of families and 24.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.4% of those under age 18 and 17.6% of those age 65 or over.


The city hall of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Poplar Bluff operates under the Council–Manager form of government. The city manager appoints heads of various city departments and agencies including Airport Director, Art Museum Director, Black River Coliseum Director, Finance, Personnel, Collections Director, Fire Department Chief, City Planner, Police Chief, and Street Superintendent.


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.[12] 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, and wrestling; and girls' softball, volleyball, cheerleading, 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 5th and 6th Grade Center

Secondary schools

  • Poplar Bluff Junior High School
  • Poplar Bluff Senior High School
  • 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 Community 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".[13]

Notable people



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  8. ^ Historic maps of Poplar Bluff in the Sanborn Maps of Missouri Collection at the University of Missouri
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^
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  12. ^
  13. ^

External links

  • Old images by Poplar Bluff
  • The History of Butler County 1870–1930
  • Poplar Bluff Historical Preservation Commission
  • The Poplar Bluff R-1 School District
  • Poplar Bluff Municipal Airport
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