The village of Lithium in Perry County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, had a population of zero in 2000, making it the smallest incorporated village in the entire country.
Not anymore. The 2010 census data for Missouri, released today, shows that Lithium has a population of 89. It's no longer the smallest village in the U.S., or Missouri, or even Southeast Missouri.
On the other hand, it now grabs another claim to fame as the fastest growing town anywhere. I would try to calculate the percent increase in population -- it must be a huge number -- but my calculator keeps giving me a "division by zero" error. (Just kidding.)
I doubt, however, that a bunch of people have made a sudden decision to move to this corner of Perry County. As I explained in a previous blog, the Census Bureau, for reasons that only a bureaucrat could understand, determined in 2000 that the village of Lithium only included a tiny parcel of land no bigger than a football field containing a single vacant house.
That mistake has now been corrected and Lithium covers a much larger area, including 32 houses. The population figure of 89 is now much more consistent with reality.
Meanwhile, a new crop of Missouri villages possess the dubious distinction of having no warm bodies. These include Florida (Monroe County), Goss (also Monroe County), and Lakeside (Miller County). Of these dying towns, Florida is the most well-known: it's the birthplace of Mark Twain.
Among Missouri towns that have a non-zero population, tiny little Baker in Stoddard County is the smallest with a population of three. That's quite a percentage drop from 2000, when the population was five.
Other observations from the latest census numbers:
- Cape Girardeau is the 16th largest city in Missouri, behind Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Independence, Columbia, Lee's Summit, O'Fallon, St. Joseph, St. Charles, Blue Springs, St. Peters, Florissant, Joplin, Chesterfield, and Jefferson City. If the suburbs of St. Louis and Kansas City are excluded, then Cape Girardeau would be 8th.
- Excluding the "infinite" growth in Lithium, the fastest growing city in Missouri is Wentzville as the population exploded from 6,896 to 29,070.
- The city of St. Louis fared poorly, with the population dropping 8.3% to 319,294. This loss was offset by massive growth in some St. Louis metro suburbs, especially in St. Charles County. In particular, O'Fallon, Missouri, kicked butt with a 71.8% increase.
- Jackson grew 15.2% to reach a population of 13,758, climbing to 62nd on the leaderboard of Missouri cities. Cape Girardeau's growth was more modest, but still a nice 7.3% increase. The new Cape city limit signs will say 37,941.
This Excel spreadsheet provides all of the gritty details for towns in Missouri.