St. Joseph emerged in the early 1800s as an Indian trading post and soon became an important link between the eastern part of the nation and the western frontier. It became the eastern terminus of the Pony Express, and in 1859, a railroad was built through St. Joseph, increasing its role as a supply and distribution center for the West. During the 1880s and 1890s, its Golden Age of prosperity, St. Joseph boasted 60,000 inhabitants, 11 railroads, 170 factories, and the largest stockyards west of Chicago.
With its successful meat packing industry, favorable location, and railroad connections, St. Joseph grew into a thriving urban center. Though the sources of industry have changed over time, St. Joseph’s job base has diversified, making it a strong and growing city. St. Joseph’s rich history is preserved in its many museums and architecture, and present-day residents enjoy the enduring efforts of its founding members.