Missouri is full of rich history that dates back to the Native Americans that lived here long before Europeans conquered North America. Interesting facts about Missouri include everything from the infamous Oregan Trail, the Pony Express, and a true Wild West history.
If you want to know more about the 24th state in the Union, we’ve got some weird and fun facts about Missouri as well. Did you know iced tea and the ice cream cone were invented in Missouri? Missouri is also the birthplace of a wide array of famous and infamous people like Brad Pitt, Mark Twain, the outlaw Jesse James, Harry S. Truman, and more!
Keep reading to learn more about and interesting facts about Missouri, a few bizarre laws and more focusing on the Show-Me State.
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126 facts about Missouri
Here are 126 interesting facts about Missouri to impress guests at your next dinner party.
Quick & Fun Facts About Missouri
1. Missouri gets its name from a tribe of Sioux Indians and means ‘people with wooden canoes‘.
2. Missouri became a state on August 10, 1821.
3. Missouri was the 24th state to join the Union.
4. Missouri Day is the third Wednesday in October.
5. Missouri is one of 12 states that make up the Midwest that also includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
6. Missouri shares a border with eight other states: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
7. There are six national parks in Missouri that include George Washington Carver National Monument, Harry S Truman National Historic Site, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
8. Kansas City and St. Louis are home to more than half of the state’s population.
Interesting Facts About Missouri
Today, throughout the state of Missouri, we can find buildings, natural wonders, and artifacts from the past.
9. The word “Missouri” often has been said to mean “muddy water” but the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology has said it means “town of the large canoes“.
10. Missouri has the largest beer-producing plant in the United States. Did you know that the maker of Budweiser beer (the Anheuser-Busch company) is in St. Louis?
11. The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811 and was centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.
12. Missouri is recorded as having the most destructive tornado in the history of the US. In 1925 the Tri-State Tornado destroyed 90% of Missouri.
13. Warsaw, Missouri holds the state record for the lowest temperature of -40 degrees on February 13, 1905 and the state record for the highest temperature recorded of 118 degrees on July 14, 1954.
14. The 2011 Joplin tornado was an EF5-rated multiple-vortex tornado that tore a six-mile-long and one-mile-wide path of devastation through the southwest Missouri city.
15. Missouri is home to four Nobel prize winners: Jack Kilby (Physics, 2000), Roger D. Kornberg (Chemistry, 2006), T.S. Eliot (Literature, 1948) and Steven Chu (Physics, 1997).
16. Richland, Missouri is home to the US’ only cave restaurant.
17. Big Springs, Missouri is one of the largest springs in not only the U.S., but the world. The spring has an average flow of 470 cubic feet (13,000 L) of water per second.
18. The first great mastodon found in the world, and probably the largest one, now in the British Museum, was reconstructed from bones found near Kimmswick, Mo in the early 1800’s.
Harry S. Truman Facts
Harry S. Truman is the only president who was born and raised in Missouri.
19. Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States was born in Lamar, MO in 1884.
20. Harry S. Truman was a United States Senator from Missouri from 1935 to January 1945. He was the 34th vice president from January to April 1945 under Franklin Roosevelt and the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953.
21. Harry S. Truman was a lifetime member of the Democratic Party.
22. Before Harry S. Truman went into politics, he owned a Kansas City haberdashery (a shop that sells things for sewing, dressmaking, and knitting).
23. The birthday of the only U.S. president to come from Missouri is May 8. Truman Day is a state holiday observed in Missouri and celebrated on May 8 or the nearest weekday if May 8 falls on a weekend.
Historic Facts About Missouri
24. Columbia, the fourth most populous city in Missouri was once a home of Mound Builders. Mound Builders were prehistoric American Indians named for their practice of burying their dead in large mounds. Mounds have been found from the Mississippi River to the mountains of Appalachian.
25. The first European to set foot on the territory that is now Missouri was Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, in 1541.
26. The first French explorers of the territory that is now Missouri was Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673 while traveling down the Mississippi River.
27. Missouri’s oldest community, Saint Genevieve, was founded as early as 1735.
28. French fur traders settled in St Louis, Missouri in 1764.
29. The first newspaper in Missouri was the “Missouri Gazette”, and created in 1808 by Joseph Charles.
30. Saint Louis University is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and dates back to 1832.
31. The first stone house built in Missouri was by Nathan Boone in St. Charles county. Boone’s father was Daniel Boone, who died in the house on September 26, 1820.
32. The “Pony Express” existed between April 1860 and October 1861 and was linked by St. Joseph Missouri Placerville, California.
33. In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant received his first commission as general from Abraham Lincoln. It was delivered to him under an oak tree still standing In Ironton. Mo.
34. America’s first daytime bank robbery during peacetime happened in Liberty, Missouri, on February 13, 1866. Jesse and Frank James’ gang was credited with it.
35. The first train of the Atlantic-Pacific Railway, which became the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, or “Frisco,” arrived in 1870.
36. Jesse James was shot and killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1882.
37. St. Louis hosted the first Olympic games held in the United States in the summer of 1904.
38. In 1904 St. Louis was the location of the World’s Fair.
39. The University of Missouri is the first college in the world to grant a journalism degree, which happened in 1908.
Missouri State Facts
40. The postal code for Missouri is MO.
41. The Missouri state capital is in Jefferson City.
42. Jefferson City, Missouri was named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.
43. The first Capitol in Jefferson City burned in 1837 and a second structure completed in 1840 burned when the dome was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911.
44. Salus populi suprema lex esto is the Missouri state motto and in latin means ‘the safety of the people should be the supreme law,” or “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law”.
45. The nickname of “Show Me State” came from an 1899 speech from Missouri Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, where he said “For thy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
46. The first nickname for Missourians was “Pikers.” This referred to the idea they were from Pike county, the one county in Missouri known to people outside the state.
47. Missouri is also called “the Mother of the West.”
48. Missouri was the third most fought-over state in the Civil War, after Virginia and Tennessee.
49. In 1865 Missouri became the first slave state to free its slaves.
50. Missouri is one of 12 states with its own official horse; the Missouri Fox Trotter that is a mid-sized muscular breed from the Ozarks.
51. Missouri is known as the Cave State and is thought to have more than 6,000 caves.
52. The “Missouri Waltz” is the official state song.
53. The state animal is the Missouri mule.
54. The state bird is the bluebird.
55. The state tree is the flowering dogwood.
56. The state insect is the honeybee.
57. State folk dance is the square dance.
58. State musical instrument is the fiddle.
59. The state flower is the hawthorn.
60. Mozarkite is the official state rock.
61. The official mineral of Missouri is galena.
62. The official state fossil of Missouri is crinoid.
63. The official grape of Missouri is the Norton. (It is one of the only two states to have an official grape).
64. State Amphibian is the Bullfrog.
65. Missouri state dinosaur is the Hypsibema missouriensis
66. The highest point in Missouri is the Taum Sauk Mountain, which is 1,772 feet high.
67. The lowest point in Missouri is the St. Francis River at Arkansas border, which is only 230 feet.
68. Missouri is home to almost 10,000 farms which cover 66% of the state’s total land area. Soybean and corn are the state’s top crops.
Weird Facts About Missouri
There are some odd things about Missouri and some very weird and outdated laws that are still on the books in many counties and cities. Below are a few of the odder facts about Missouri.
69. There are only there only six area codes in Missouri: 314, 636, 816, 660, 573, and 417.
70. The tallest man in documented medical history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from St. Louis. He was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall.
71. The first successful parachute jump from a plane was made at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis on March 1, 1912.
72. In Excelsior Springs, Missouri it’s against the law to worry squirrels.
73. In Missouri, you need a permit if you want to shave while driving.
74. Women are not allowed to wear corsets in Missouri.
75. In Columbia,Missouri clotheslines are banned.
76. In University City, MIssouri it’s illegal to honk another’s horn.
77. In Marceline, Missouri minors can buy rolling paper and tobacco but not lighters.
78. In Natchez, Missouri you aren’t allowed to give beer or other intoxicants to elephants.
79. The first automatically sliced commercial loaves of bread happened on July 6, 1928, in Chillicothe, Missouri, using a machine invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa.
80. Single men between the ages of twenty-one and fifty must pay an annual tax of one dollar (enacted in 1820).
Missouri River Facts
81. The lower Mississippi River and the Missouri River form the world’s 4th longest river system in the world and is 3,898 miles long.
82. The Missouri River is the world’s 15th-longest river.
83. The Missouri River, longest tributary of the Mississippi River and second longest river in North America.
84. The Missouri River flows for 2,342 miles from the Rocky Mountains through the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
85. The Missouri River joins with the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri.
86. The Missouri River has the nickname “Big Muddy,” because of the large amount of silt that it carries.
Facts About the Missouri Compromise
There are three Missouri compromise facts that lay the foundation for the importance of this act.
87. Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave states part of the Missouri Compromise, but it was thought that it would be balanced by the admission of Maine, as a free state.
88. Savery was then, to be excluded from all new states in the Louisiana Purchase north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
89. It was an important early milestone in the road to the war that lead to freedom.
Fun Facts About Kansas City, Missouri
90. The largest city in Missouri by population is Kansas City.
91. Kansas City has more miles of boulevards than Paris and more fountains than any city except Rome.
92. In Kansas City, it’s not allowed to have a bathtub with legs resembling animal paws.
93. The Country Club Plaza, opened in 1922 and was the country’s first suburban shopping district.
94. Russell Stover, the largest maker of boxed chocolate in the world, has been based in KC since 1932.
95. Before Jackie Robinson became the first African-American major leaguer, he was a shortstop with the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro Leagues organization.
96. Kansas City has over 200 fountains, giving it the nickname The City of Fountains.
97. The Plaza Christmas lights tradition started with a strand of 16 lights over a doorway in 1925.
98. The Kansas City Royals got their name from the American Royal, the livestock show that’s been held in KC since 1899.
99. Kansas City has more barbeque restaurants per capita than any other US city.
100. In 1963, what is widely believed to be the first multiplex movie theater opened in Ward Parkway Shopping Center.
101. Jazz legend Charlie Parker’s first gig was in The Country Club Plaza, where restaurant Fogo De Chao is now located.
102. Kansas City, Missouri was the home of the first museum dedicated solely to Jazz. It is called the American Jazz Museum.
103. Built in 1914, Kansas City Union Station is the second-largest working train station in the U.S. behind the Grand Central terminal in New York City.
Fun Facts About St. Louis, Missouri
104. Auguste Chouteau founded Saint Louis in 1764.
105. In 1849, a cholera epidemic struck St. Louis, killing over 4,000 people.
106. Aunt Jemima pancake flour was invented in St. Louis in 1889. It was the first ready-mix food to ever be sold commercially.
107. St Louis, Missouri is home to the tallest manmade monument in the US: the Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall. It was completed on October 28, 1965. The monument is known as the “Gateway to the West.”
108. St. Louis; is also called, “Home of the Blues”.
109. It’s illegal to run in St. Louis if you’re a milkman while working.
110. It’s illegal to sit on the curb of any city street in St. Louis and drink beer from a bucket.
111. St. Louis hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics—the first Olympic Games ever held in the U.S.—at the same time as the World’s Fair.
112. Iced tea was invented at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, when Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice for the first time.
113. Ice cream cones made from waffles were first invented in St. Louis at the World’s Fair when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups. The vendor asked a waffle vendor to roll waffles to hold the ice cream, and created one of the most loved sweet treats in the world.
114. The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis also introduced cotton candy and Dr Pepper.
Famous Missourians & Celebrities from Missouri
115. Mark Twain was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835 (his given name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens). He is most famous for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
116. Jesse Woodson James, better known as the outlaw Jesse James was born in Kearney, Missouri in 1847.
117. Brad Pitt is probably the most famous of the celebrities from Missouri. He grew up in Springfield, about two hours and 45 minutes south of Kansas City, Missouri and spent a few years at Mizzou (University of Missouri-Columbia).
118. Jon Hamm (most famous for Mad Men) Jon Hamm has made the most of his time in Hollywood, but it was during his years at John Burroughs School in St. Louis and at Mizzou
119. Phyllis Smith (Phyllis), Jenna Fischer (Pam), and Ellie Kemper (Erin) from The TV sitcom, The Office all grew up in St. Louis.
120. Andy Cohen (creator of The Real Housewives franchise, and star of Watch What Happens Live) was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri.
121. Jean Harlow (actress known as the original blonde bombshell), was born Harlean Carpenter on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri.
122. Famous rapper Eminem was born in St. Joseph and lived in Missouri until he was 11.
123. Writer, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is from Missouri. She is most famous for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
124. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, writer of Little House on the Prairie grew up in Missouri.
125. Daniel Boone lived longer in Missouri than in any other state and regarded Missouri as his home.
126. Other famous Missouri celebrities include actor John Goodman, as well as sports figures including pro football player Roger Wehrli, baseball player Yogi Berra, basketball player Jo Jo White and hockey player Pat LaFontaine.
Know of other famous Missourians? Please let us know in the comments!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and all the fun facts about Missouri we were able to find.