15 Fascinating Missouri Facts

It may surprise you to learn that the first pancake mix was created in Missouri in 1889.

Missouri is sometimes unofficially called the “Show Me State,” but it has several other nicknames as well, including “The Cave State,” “Mother of the West,” “The Ozark State,” and “The Lead State.” This state became the 24th to join the United States on August 10, 1821.

With a population of 6,137,428 (as of 2019), Missouri ranks as the 18th most populous state. It shares borders with Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

At 69,715 square miles, Missouri is the 21st largest state. Its capital, Jefferson City, is located in the center of the state.

Now that we’ve covered some quick facts, let’s dive into more interesting Missouri trivia!

There’s No One Correct Way to Pronounce Missouri

Missouri is the only state in the US that doesn’t have a single official pronunciation. Locals pronounce the state’s name in various ways, including “Missoor-ee,” “Mussour-ah,” and “Mizzoor-ee.” Linguists have yet to discover a logical explanation for the varied pronunciations, as they don’t appear to be linked to geography or cultural background.

Missouri Does Not Mean “Muddy Water”

Contrary to popular belief, Missouri doesn’t translate to “muddy water.” Instead, the state was named after the Missouri tribe, a Siouan Native American group. The most likely explanation for the muddy water translation is that neighboring tribes, who spoke a Miami-Illinois language, used the term to refer to the Missouri River. The river was a significant landmark in the area and was often associated with the Missouri tribe.

Missouri Lacks an Official Nickname

There are several nicknames associated with Missouri, but none have been officially adopted. The most popular unofficial nickname is the “Show Me State,” which appears on the state’s license plates. The origin of this nickname is unclear, but some attribute it to a statement made by Missouri Congressman Willard Vandiver.

Another possible explanation for the nickname comes from the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Missourian miners were brought in to work the mines, and their supervisors would often say, “That man is from Missouri. You’ll have to show him.”

Missouri Has a Rich History

People have lived in Missouri for at least 10,000 years, with Paleo-Indians settling the area around 12,000 BC. Missouri’s history includes significant events like the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Missouri Compromise, and the Civil War’s Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

The Paleo Indians migrated from modern-day Russia to Alaska, North America through the Bering Strait, which acted as a land bridge due to lower sea levels. The USA has archaeological evidence of Paleo-Indian presence dating back to 12,000 BC. Although the first evidence of people settling down for extended periods of time in the state dates back to 7000 BC, they were primarily hunter-gatherers. By 1000 BC, complex cultures like the Mississippi Culture arose, which had several cities with over a thousand residents. However, this civilization had collapsed by 1673 when Europeans arrived.

The French were the first Europeans to reach Missouri. Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, a Jesuit priest and an explorer, respectively, set out from Michigan in 1673, traveled down the Mississippi, mapped the areas they passed through, and turned back before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. St. Genevieve, the first proper French settlement, was founded much later in 1750, and it was in La Louisiane, a region of New France.

Missouri’s land changed hands several times before it became a US state. France founded St. Genevieve, but the French and Indian war broke out, which France ultimately lost to Britain in 1763. After the war, France gave control of the La Louisiane to Spain, who developed the region with the aid of French immigrants fleeing British rule. Spain controlled and developed the region until 1800, at which time they aided America during the American Revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte retook control of Missouri for France in 1800 but sold it to the USA as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Missouri became a part of the District of Louisiana in 1804, which later became Louisiana Territory in 1805. Louisiana Territory was then split in 1812, and the northern parts became Missouri Territory. Missouri joined the Union as the 24th state on August 10, 1821.

Missouri and Iowa went to “war” over a border dispute. The original survey that defined Missouri’s northern border with Wisconsin Territory was vague, so Missouri attempted to redefine it to its advantage in 1837. In 1838, Iowa formed out of Wisconsin Territory, and at the same time, Missouri conducted a new survey that claimed a 9.5 mile (15.3km) wide strip of Iowa that ran the length of the whole northern border. When tax agents from Missouri tried to collect tax from this region later that year, they were chased away with pitchforks. This started the Missouri-Iowa “Honey War,” with both sides sending a militia to claim the region. Congress settled the dispute much later in 1849, declaring the region a part of Iowa after all.

Missouri residents fought for both sides in the Civil War.

In 1861, some southern states seceded from the Union, and Missouri formed a group to decide whether to stay in the Union or join the Confederacy. The vote was in favor of staying in the Union, but Governor Claiborne F. Jackson disagreed. Instead, he appointed Sterling Price, the president of the secession convention, as leader of the state militia and prepared to fight for the Confederacy. He and his followers joined Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas and fought against the Union army after fleeing Jefferson City.

Mark Twain, the famous writer, was born in Missouri.

He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in the town of Florida, Missouri, but grew up in Hannibal. Twain worked for some small news agencies before becoming a riverboat pilot for 18 months on the Mississippi River. He wrote his masterpieces after the Civil War, drawing on his experiences during his time on the river.

Kansas City, Missouri, may have more fountains than Rome.

This “fact” is not confirmed, although Kansas City tour guides claim it to be true. However, no one has counted the fountains in Rome, nor has anyone correctly counted the fountains in Kansas City. The City of Fountains Foundation attempted to count them and found only 200, although there may be more in private locations. Regardless, Rome’s citizens likely do not care either way.

The first commercial pancake mix was invented in Missouri.

In the late 19th century, a surplus of flour in St. Joseph, Missouri, led to the invention of Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix by two entrepreneurs. They combined flour, baking powder, cornflour, and salt to create a self-rising pancake mix, the first known commercially available pancake mix in the world.

Missouri experienced the deadliest tornado in US history.

Missouri is located in Tornado Alley, a section of the central US that experiences many severe thunderstorms and tornadoes each year. In the past, Missouri was hit by the deadliest tornado in US history.

It’s not surprising that Missouri experienced the deadliest tornado ever seen in the United States, given its history of extreme weather. The Tri-State Tornado, which hit Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois in 1925, killed 695 people and injured over 2000 more. It destroyed more than 15,000 homes, leaving many small towns unable to recover.

Missouri is also famous for producing two Wild West outlaws: Jesse James and his brother Frank. Born in Kearney, Missouri, they fought for the Confederates during the American Civil War. After the Confederate’s defeat, they became outlaws, robbing banks, stagecoaches, and trains for 15 years. Their story was followed closely by many people, who either saw them as murderous ex-Confederates or as heroes fighting for a lost cause.

St. Louis, Missouri, hosted the first Olympic Games held outside of Europe in 1904. Although initially meant to be held in Chicago, the games were moved to St. Louis due to public pressure. Only 65 of the 651 participants came from outside of North America, making it a very North American event.

Missouri has some strange laws, including a “brothel law” which limits the number of unrelated women who can live in the same residence to four. It’s also illegal to intoxicate elephants, frighten babies, and honk someone else’s horn.

Despite its tumultuous history, Missouri is now a beautiful state to live in or visit, with stunning national parks and thriving cities.

FAQ

1. What is Missouri’s nickname?

Missouri is known as the “Show-Me State,” a nickname that reflects the independent-mindedness and practicality of its residents.

2. What is Missouri’s state bird?

Missouri’s state bird is the Eastern Bluebird, a small, brightly-colored bird that is found throughout the state.

3. What is the largest city in Missouri?

The largest city in Missouri is Kansas City, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. It is a major economic and cultural center for the state.

4. What is Missouri’s state flower?

Missouri’s state flower is the Hawthorn, a small, delicate flower that blooms in the spring. It is often used in landscaping and can be found throughout the state.

5. What is the Missouri River?

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America, stretching more than 2,300 miles from its source in Montana to its mouth in Missouri. It is an important waterway for transportation, recreation, and agriculture.

6. What is Missouri’s state tree?

Missouri’s state tree is the Dogwood, a small, flowering tree that is commonly found throughout the state. Its delicate white or pink flowers bloom in the spring.

7. What is the Gateway Arch?

The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot monument in St. Louis that was built to commemorate the westward expansion of the United States. It is the tallest arch in the world and is a major tourist attraction for the state.

8. What is Missouri’s state capital?

Missouri’s state capital is Jefferson City, a small city located in the central part of the state. It is home to many important government buildings and is a center for politics and policy-making in Missouri.

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