On the eve of the Civil War, West Plains was a sleepy county seat with a population of 150 and a wood-frame courthouse in its town square. During the war, this Southern Missouri town was burned, abandoned, and eventually reconstructed. With the arrival of the railroad in 1883, West Plains turned boomtown, and photographers were among the first entrepreneurs to arrive. This volume of vintage photographs documents the town as it grew, struggled, and prospered over the next 50 years. Pictured here are the washwomen and the bankers, the circuses and the fires, the schools and homes that helped build the West Plains of today.