Founded in 1887, Blackwater, Missouri was located near the recently completed Missouri Pacific Railroad. Small towns sprang up all along the railroad, mainly to provide farmers access to distant markets and to supply the needs of the railroad industry. As the village grew, a rock quarry opened a couple of miles away, providing employment to many. The population grew to over 650 during the '30s and '40s. The village was incorporated as a fourth class city and the future looked bright. Then shortly after World War II, change came to Blackwater and America. Transportation improvements mean the railroad was not as vital as it once was. By the 1940s, these advancements in transportation made it easier for residents to travel farther for employment and shopping. This made it more difficult for small, local merchants. Then the quarry met with disaster and closed its doors, putting many out of work. By the 1960s the town's buildings were nearly vacant and a man purchased many of them for use as antique sales. This kept some interest in Blackwater and gave a purpose for many of the downtown buildings.
By 1993, most of the downtown stores were empty and in deplorable condition. The quarry, which had become a swimming hole in the late '60s, was now closed. The antique dealer had left as well. The declining population had leveled off to about 290. All that remained was a post office, feed and hardware store, auto body shop, band and elemtary school.
Fortunately, several residents came together and started a movement (the Blackwater Preservation Society or BPS) to bring the town back to life. Several wrote grants and were successful in gaining money to rennovate several systems, including the sewers, broken sidewalks, streets and water lines. Old-time street lamps were donated and volunteer labor helped lay new brick sidewalks. As fast as the buildings were rennovated, shops moved in. A building was donated for a Telephone Museum showcasing a lifetime of telephone memorabilia. Numerous prizes were awarded the community rewarding their efforts to revive the town's commerce. An old hotel, The Iron Horse, is currently being rennovated with 11 rooms and a restaurant. Blackwater is a work in progress and we hope you'll visit soon!
The West End Theatre is housed in a 1903 church located at 301 Doddridge Avenue. It features the original church pews and stained glass windows. Jay Turley, a local playwright, has written numerous plays and produced them in this theater.The proceeds go to the community Projects such as the flower pots on Main Street and the white lights outlining the downtown buildings during the holiday season.
It is in this theater that Bob has performed.
Scenes of Blackwater