Neosho (officially City of Neosho) is the most populous city in and the county seat of Newton County, Missouri, United States. Neosho is an integral part of the Joplin, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in southwestern Missouri on the southern edge of the Midwest, Neosho lies at the western edge of the Missouri Ozarks. The population was 10,505 at the time of the 2000 census. The name "Neosho" is generally accepted to be of Native American derivation, meaning "clear, cold water", referring to the natural freshwater springs found within the original city limits. Nicknamed "City of Springs", this uninterrupted availability of fresh water made the area ideal for settlement for the original inhabitants of the area as well as the settlers who founded the city. Much of Neosho's history revolves around these springs, including its onetime place as an agricultural center as well as the location for a National Fish Hatchery. Neosho is also known locally as "Gateway to the Ozarks" and, since the 1950s, "The Flower Box City". Originally inhabited by indigenous Native Americans, Neosho was first settled by people of European descent around 1833 and incorporated in 1878. Neosho has made a number of contributions to the cultural fabric of America by producing and inspiring several individuals who are notable in U.S. history including painter and Regionalist muralist Thomas Hart Benton, ragtime composer and pianist James Scott, and celebrated African-American inventor and botanist George Washington Carver. Neosho has also played a key role in several historic events, including Missouri's secession during the Civil War and serving as home to the responsible for carrying the first American into space and carrying the first men to the moon. Today, Neosho is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, particularly in the historic downtown area. Through a combination of private investment and public resources, the historic city center is seeing a number of restoration and revitalization projects aimed at restoring the original charm, upgrading the infrastructure, and generally improving the quality of life of downtown Neosho. Neosho also seems poised to play a pivotal role in America's transition to alternative energy. Neosho's Crowder College has been deeply involved in education and research since the early 1980s, building the first solar-powered vehicle to successfully complete a coast to coast journey across the United States in 1984. In the spring of 2009, the college is scheduled to break ground on the MARET (Missouri Alternative & Renewable Energy Technology) Center, a facility entended to provide an experimental platform to develop alternative energy systems.