75 Interesting Facts About Missouri

Last updated on July 9th, 2023

Missouri is the 18th most populous and the 21st most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the Midwestern region of the United States. The state attained statehood on August 10, 1821, becoming the 24th state to join the union. It shares its border with eight states (Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Kentucky.) See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Missouri (nicknamed: the Show-Me State) has 114 counties. The state’s capital is Jefferson City. The abbreviation for Missouri is MO. With these 75 facts about Missouri, let us learn more about its history, geography, people, economy and more.

Facts about Missouri

1. Human settlement has been recorded in the region for at least 12,000 years ago.

2. Did you know that between December 16, 1811, and late April 1812, over two-thousand earthquakes tremors occurred on the Mississippi River valley? During this period, three of the strongest earthquakes (between 7.5 and 8.8 on today’s Richter Scale) in U.S. history hit Missouri near New Madrid. The earthquake caused a so-called fluvial tsunami in the Mississippi River, actually making the river run backward for several hours.

Missouri on the map

3. The name of the state the “Show Me State” came into being when Missouri Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, in an 1899 speech in Philadelphia, said, “For thy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

4. Missouri was once an important hub for transportation and commerce in early America.

Flag of Missouri

Flag of Missouri. Missouri facts

5. The state is sometimes called “the Mother of the West.”

6. Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to set foot on the land in 1673 while traveling down the Mississippi River.

7. Missouri has the largest beer producing plant in the country as it houses the maker of Budweiser beer–the Anheuser-Busch.

8. The mule holds a special place in Missouri as the state’s official animal. With a rich history tied to agriculture and transportation, mules played a vital role in the state’s development. They were known for their strength and versatility, assisting in farming, pulling wagons, and building transportation infrastructure. Today, the mule symbolizes Missouri’s agricultural roots and resilient spirit.

Pony Express (an illustrative image).
Pony Express (an illustrative image).

9. Did you know that a mail delivery system called the “Pony Express” existed between April 1860 and October 1861? The system used nearly 200 relief stations across what is now Missouri and California. Lone horsemen were employed to carry the mails and switch the shipment between the stations. The relay system enabled the mail to cross the frontier in record time. The Pony Express had an average delivery time of just 10 days. However, their best came in March 1861, when riders carried the inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln from Nebraska to California in just seven days, 17 hours.

10. The “Missouri Gazette”, the first newspaper in Missouri, was founded in Missouri in 1808 by Joseph Charles.

11. Hannibal, Missouri, is the hometown of author Mark Twain and serves as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

12. In 1849, a cholera epidemic struck St. Louis, killing over 4,000 people.

13. In 1911, a lightning strike on Missouri State Capitol that resulted in a fire destroyed the building completely.

St. Louis, Missouri - Keiner Plaza and the Gateway Arch
Keiner Plaza and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

14. Missouri is named after the Missouri River, which was named after the indigenous Missouri Indians. The Missouri River is the longest river in the USA.

15. Missouri is a landlocked state and borders eight states. Both Missouri and Tennessee have borders with 8 states in the U.S. (See the list of U.S. states and their borders here.)

16. The Mississippi and the Missouri River are the two longest rivers of the state.

17. Missouri is one of the leading producers of transportation equipment.

18. The University of Missouri is the first college in the world to grant a journalism degree. It opened on September 14, 1908.

ice cream illustration. MO facts.

19. Ice cream cones made from waffles were first invented in Missouri in the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups to supply the ice cream. The vendor asked a waffle vendor to roll waffles to supply the ice cream, and hence the birth of the cone took place.

20. Missouri is a leading lead-producing state. The deposit of the metal fostered the first European settlement in the state in about 1750.

21. The first parachute jump from a plane was also made at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis on March 1, 1912.

22. Harry S. Truman (33rd president of the U.S.) was the only president of the United States born in Missouri. Independence, the town where President Harry S. Truman grew up, holds the history of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Visitors come here to learn the regional importance of Missouri during the 19th Century at the historic museums including Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and National Frontier Trails Museum.

J.C. Nichols Fountain
J.C. Nichols Fountain at Country Club Plaza. Kansas City, Missouri USA.

23. Kansas City, Missouri, is home to more than 200 fountains. The city is only behind Rome in the total number of fountains. It is also nicknamed “the City of Fountains”. Other nicknames of Kansas City include Heart of America and America’s Creative Crossroads.

24. Union Station the second-largest working train station in the U.S. behind the Grand Central terminal is in Kansas City, Missouri. It was built in 1914.

25. The American Jazz Museum – the first museum solely dedicated to Jazz music is also located in Kansas City, Missouri.

26. Big Springs, Missouri is one of the largest springs in the U.S. and the world. The spring has an average flow of 470 cubic feet (13,000 L) of water per second.

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri facts.

27. Did you know this interesting fact about Missouri? Missouri has the country’s tallest monumentthe Gateway Arch – in St Louis. It is 630 feet high and 630 feet wide at the base. It was completed on October 28, 1965. The monument is known as the “Gateway to the West.” This architectural marvel provides a perfect vantage point to view 30 miles of the landscape from every direction. The structure was designed to withstand earthquakes and can sway 18 inches.

28. Missouri, along with Illinois and Indiana, also witnessed the deadliest tornado in U.S. history – The Tri-State Tornado. The tornado killed 695 people which is more than twice as many as the second deadliest in the U.S. history.

29. Kansas City and St. Louis are home to more than half of the state’s population.

30. Regarded as a home of barbecue, Kansas City boasts more than 100 BBQ restaurants, offering delicacies from ribs, burnt ends, and pork. The city hosts one of the greatest barbecue events- the American Royal BBQ- from September through November. Activities range from BBQ competitions, vendor fairs, kids fun days, and live music.

31. Missouri is also known as the Cave State. It has more than 6,000 caves.

Onondaga Cave in Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg, Missouri.
Onondaga Cave in Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg, Missouri.

32. Missouri is home to almost 10,000 farms which cover 66% of the state’s total land area. The average size of a farm in Missouri is 269 acres and they are generally family owned and operated. Soybean and corn are the state’s top crops.

33. Missouri holds a significant place in history as a key player in the fur trade and a gateway to the West. Its strategic location and abundant wildlife made it a thriving hub for fur trappers and traders.

34. Branson, Missouri, is a beloved tourist spot famous for its live entertainment shows. With various performances ranging from music to comedy, the city’s theaters attract visitors seeking memorable experiences. Alongside its natural beauty and family-friendly attractions, Branson offers a well-rounded destination for all types of travelers.

35. Missouri has a significant German heritage, with many towns and cities still preserving their German traditions and architecture.

Missouri and its border states
Missouri (in red) on the map with bordering states.

36. Missouri is home to the National Churchill Museum, commemorating Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech.

37. Missouri has a rich Civil War history, with notable battles and skirmishes fought on its soil. The state’s divided loyalties and strategic location led to significant conflicts that shaped its communities and played a part in the larger narrative of the war. Today, Missouri preserves this history through historical sites and museums, honoring the sacrifices made during this transformative period.

38. Missouri’s state insect is the honeybee, symbolizing industry and hard work. This recognition honors the honeybee’s crucial role in pollination, agriculture, and the state’s ecosystem. The designation also reflects Missouri’s agricultural heritage and the economic significance of the honey industry.

39. The World Chess Hall of Fame is located in St. Louis, showcasing the history and achievements of chess players worldwide.

40. Missouri’s state tree is the dogwood, known for its beautiful blossoms.

Male Eastern Bluebird in flight
The Eastern bluebird in flight. Photo © Steve Byland

41. Missouri’s official bird is the Eastern bluebird, known for its vibrant blue color. This recognition highlights the state’s commitment to conservation and showcases the beauty of its avian species.

42. The state has a strong sports culture, with passionate fan bases for teams like the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) and the University of Missouri Tigers (NCAA).

43. The Kansas City Royals, a Major League Baseball team, won the World Series in 1985 and 2015.

44. The state has a strong tradition of rodeos and hosts the “Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association Finals” annually.

45. The “Great Forest Park Balloon Race” in St. Louis is one of the largest hot air balloon races in the United States.

46. The state has a strong tradition of fiddle music, with the Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Championship held annually.

American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula).
Photo © Wrangel

47. The state’s official aquatic animal is the paddlefish, a prehistoric fish species found in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

48. Madison’s “Gateway International Raceway” hosts various motorsports events, including NASCAR and NHRA races.

49. The state is known for its vibrant fall festivals, such as the Apple Butter Festival in Kimmswick and the Applefest in Versailles.

50. Missouri is home to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, showcasing a vast collection of antique toys and miniatures.

51. The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States and features extensive collections of plants and flowers.

Homemade Gooey Butter Cake
Homemade Gooey Butter Cake. Photo © Bhofack2

52. Missouri is known for its delicious “Gooey Butter Cake,” a sweet and rich dessert originating in St. Louis.

53. The state’s official dinosaur is the Hypsibema Missourians, commonly known as the “Missouri dinosaur.”

54. Missouri is home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City.

55. The “Missouri State Penitentiary” in Jefferson City, now closed, was once one of the oldest operating prisons in the United States.

. . . continue reading on the next page