Potosi, Missouri

Potosi, Missouri
Potosi, Missouri
—  City  —
Washington County Courthouse
Motto: A City for All Seasons
Location of Potosi, Missouri
Coordinates: 37°56′16″N 90°46′55″W / 37.93778°N 90.78194°W / 37.93778; -90.78194Coordinates: 37°56′16″N 90°46′55″W / 37.93778°N 90.78194°W / 37.93778; -90.78194
Country United States
State Missouri
County Washington
Incorporated 1826
 – Total 2.2 sq mi (5.7 km2)
 – Land 2.2 sq mi (5.7 km2)
 – Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 880 ft (268 m)
Population (July 2008)[1]
 – Total 2,698
 – Density 1,235.0/sq mi (476.8/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 – Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 63664
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-59330[2]
GNIS feature ID 0751729[3]

Potosi is a city in Washington County, Missouri, United States. Potosi is about 10 miles north of Belgrade. The estimated population in July 2008 was 2,698.[1] It was 2,662 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Washington County[4]. The city was founded in 1783 by Moses Austin and was named after the Bolivian silver-mining city of Potosí.[5]



Potosi is located at 37°56′16″N 90°46′55″W / 37.93778°N 90.78194°W / 37.93778; -90.78194 (37.937881, -90.781932)[6]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), all land.


Tomb of Moses Austin and Maria Brown Austin in Potosi behind the Presbyterian church built in 1832
A view of Potosi published in 1819 by H.R. Schoolcraft, captioned Potosi, alias Mine á Burton

A lead mining settlement at this spot, "Mine á Breton" or Mine au Breton, was founded between 1760 and 1780 by Francis Azor, of Brittany, France. Moses Austin came here in 1798 with his family, including his son Stephen F. Austin. Moses obtained a grant of 7,153 arpents of land from the Spanish Empire and started large-scale mining operations, building his town to support it. Moses named the town after Potosí in Bolivia, which was famous for its vast silver mines. Austin's tomb and the foundation of his home Durham Hall can still be seen. Another mining entrepreneur in Potosi at the time of Moses Austin was James Bryan. Firmin Desloge, who emigrated from Nantes, France in 1822 located in Potosi and established a mercantile, distillery, fur trading and lead smelting business. The Desloge lead mining business Desloge Consolidated Lead Company was later relocated to Desloge, MO

The Potosi Correctional Center, which opened in 1989, housed Missouri's death row and the state's executions were handled at the prison until 2005. The Potosi Center conducted all but one of the 62 Missouri executions between 1989 when capital punishment was reinstated and 2005 when executions were moved 25 miles east to the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri.[7]

Renowned woodcut artist Tom Huck grew up in Potosi, where he has taken inspiration from many of the region's local legends and folk tales. In 1998, Huck released "2 Weeks in August: 14 Rural Absurdities", a suite of 14 woodcut prints based on bizarre tales from the towns history.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 2,662 people, 1,103 households, and 677 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,218.9 people per square mile (471.5/km²). There were 1,211 housing units at an average density of 554.5 per square mile (214.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.60% White, 2.14% African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.

There were 1,103 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 81.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,702, and the median income for a family was $23,958. Males had a median income of $31,548 versus $16,976 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,417. About 28.1% of families and 31.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.7% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

The United States Postal Service operates the Potosi Post Office.[8]

The Potosi Correctional Center of the Missouri Department of Corrections is located in an unincorporated area in Washington County, near Potosi.[9] The prison houses male death row inmates.[10]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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