Rare film to showcase history of the Joplin Stockyards

An extremely rare, preserved film about the 1931 opening of the Joplin Stockyards will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in Webster Hall’s Corley Auditorium at Missouri Southern.

Joplin Stockyards, August 1931
Joplin Stockyards, August 1931

The nitrate film, which offered scenes from the stockyards’ opening on Aug. 27, 1931, had been kept in refrigeration for some time at the Joplin Museum Complex. Museum director Brad Belk said the challenge was finding a reputable company to handle the extremely delicate process of transferring the film to a digital format.

“Because of the film’s uniqueness, I wanted to go with a reputable company,” said Belk. “During a museum conference in Oklahoma City, I learned about Media Preserve, which is located in Cranberry, Penn.

Last year, Belk personally drove the film to Pennsylvania to hand it off for conversion.

The finished film has been trimmed down from its original 11 minutes by Bill Hunt, creative services director for Missouri Southern’s television station. Belk wrote a narrative for it, which was voiced by Joplin resident Ted Easley.

The presentation will include a focus on Lucius P. Buchanan, who five years earlier built the Spanish-style mansion which has become an iconic part of Missouri Southern State University. Buchanan helped secure the 80-acre property on the west side of Range Line, formed the Joplin Stockyard Corporation and served as its first president.

On its opening day – with the camera rolling – 30,000 area residents attended the dedication of the Joplin Stockyards, which served 33 counties in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. During its first year of business, paid sales topped $600,000.

Last year, the Joplin Regional Stockyards – now located off of I-44 near Carthage – reported $538 million in sales.

“The Depression had hit us hard. We’ll explain how and why (the Joplin Stockyards was created), as well as its amazing story past the grand opening,” said Belk.

The program is free and open to the public.