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West Plains is a city in Howell Countymarker, Missourimarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 10,866 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Howell Countymarker . The West Plains Micropolitan Statistical Area consists of Howell County.


West Plains is located at (36.737355, -91.864991) . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.4 square miles (32.1 km²), of which, of it is land and of it (0.16%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,866 people, 4,518 households, and 2,909 families residing in the city. The population density was 879.0 people per square mile (339.4/km²). There were 5,072 housing units at an average density of 410.3/sq mi (158.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.72% White, 0.73% African American, 0.96% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 1.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.65% of the population.

There were 4,518 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 21.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,122, and the median income for a family was $30,369. Males had a median income of $24,705 versus $17,312 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,019. About 15.1% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.2% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

Memorable events

West Plains Explosion

West Plains was the site of a disaster later remembered in folksong . On Friday, April 13, 1928, about sixty young people had gathered in the Bond Dance Hall, on the second floor of an East Main Street building (the first floor was occupied by Wiser Motors). At 11:05 pm, as the orchestra played "At Sundown," a violent explosion occurred. Thirty-seven people were killed and 22 more were injured. Twenty of the dead were never identified, but buried in the Oak Lawn Cemetery, where they are memorialized by the Rock of Ages monument, erected October 6, 1929. No cause was ascertained, though leaking gasoline from the garage below was suspected. Windows were shattered throughout the Halstead block, and the heat, combined with subsequent explosions, twisted cars on the street out of shape.

Robert Neathery, a lifelong resident of West Plains who died at the age of 96 in 2003, wrote in West Plains as I Knew It about a truck full of dynamite parked in the garage below as a possible cause for the explosion.

A memorial for the unidentified currently lies at Oak Lawn Cemetery.

See also


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