Ancestors, Legends & Time

Mural depicts Webb City's mining boom, abandoned mines and a diversified future

Picture of Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

May 1, 2024

Most of us who have been around Webb City are aware of the mural Jack Dawson painted for the Webb City Bank. But we have many new residents who may not be aware this historical piece of art is still on display in the bank building’s lobby. You’ll need an appointment to see it though, as Mid-Missouri Bank is in the process of closing that building.

Dawson named his mural “The Webb City Story.” He was able to include many historical moments in that wonderful painting. “I feel that Webb City has a gigantic past, and it is important that the present generation and those that follow have an appreciation of this fact,” said Dawson about his motivation. “The mural is a step in that direction as it depicts some important events, places, and people in a tremendous history. I want to convey, not just a history of the past, but a ‘feeling for past living’ so that those who come after us will remember and draw encouragement from our inheritance from the hardrock miners and their children.”

Dawson starts out his historic mural with John C. Webb uncovering the shiny rock that started the mining explosion that brought about the founding of Webb City in 1876. He depicts the arrival of the miners, the railroads coming to town, and the old black water tower that used to sit where our big water tower sits today.

Mining scenes that tell a story in themselves grace this beautiful mural, including some of the well known mines like the Davey Mine, the Red Dog Mine and the Yellow Dog Mine. The early buildings that created the town, the Zinc City sign and streetcar reflect wonderful pieces of our city’s history. He even shows a part of Lakeside Park, which brought happiness to many miners and their families as they rested on Sunday from being in the mines from sunrise to sundown.

There in the middle, just a bit past the center, Dawson draws a gloomy vision of the closed mines and the miners leaving the area as they head out of town to richer claims. Dawson said the “Blue Period” on the mural represents the “Death of the Miners.” But Webb City overcomes the devastation of the mining period ending. The forefathers work together and bring in lots of industry. Webb City survives. The mural shows the progress of our fair town. A school system, religion, memories of the mining era, farming and a bright horizon reflect the glorious future Webb City has to offer. There is an old man telling stories to his grandchildren about the wonderful city he where he grew up! The little girl seems to be distracted as she looks toward the future.

And off to the side, we see the Praying Hands (also a treasured gift from our artist friend Jack Dawson). The new water tower shines in the sunlight.

What a glorious mural that depicts so much of our history. Jack Dawson is well known for his wonderful paintings that have found homes all over the world.  Thank you,  Jack Dawson for sharing your talents and preserving our history.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.