20 Interesting And Fun Facts About Missouri [Explained]

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Located in the heart of the United States, the Show-Me State state offers a rich tapestry of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re exploring the Ozark Mountains, indulging in delicious BBQs, or experiencing the thrill of the Silver Dollar City amusement park, there’s no shortage of adventure and fun facts about Missouri waiting for you.

Quick Statistics And Facts About Missouri

  • Capital: Jefferson City
  • Population: 6.168 million (18th Most Populous State in the U.S) 
  • Land Area: 69,715 mi² / 180,560 km² (18th Largest in the U.S) 
  • Nickname: The Show-Me State
  • Abbreviation: MO
  • Statehood: August 10, 1821 (24th U.S State) 
  • State Bird: Eastern Bluebird
  • State Flower: Crataegus Punctata

Historical Facts About Missouri

The Lewis And Clark Expedition Started In Missouri

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson authorized Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition. And the starting point is none other than St. Louis, Missouri. 

The explorers set out with a mission to explore the western territories of the US, look for a route connecting to the Pacific Ocean, interact with Native Americans in those regions, and record information about geographical features and natural resources there. 

With great determination, they traveled thousands of miles over two years, despite numerous hardships. Today, St Louis is famous for being a key part of this impactful adventure. It’s one of the Missouri facts that locals are very proud of.

The Gateway Arch Symbolizes The Westward Expansion Of The US

The Gateway Arch is an iconic monument in St. Louis, Missouri, symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. It is the tallest arch in the world, standing at 630 feet (192 meters), thanks to architect Eero Saarinen’s design. The arch’s curved and sleek stainless steel exterior reflects its significance as the “Gateway to the West.” 

You can ascend to the observation deck to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River. Beyond its architectural brilliance, the Gateway Arch represents the pioneering spirit and the historical journey of America’s westward expansion.

The Missouri State Capitol Is A Distinguished Government Building

The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City is a distinguished government building known for its unique domed roof, a rarity among state capitols in the United States. Completed in 1917, this architectural masterpiece combines Beaux-Arts and Corinthian-style elements. The majestic dome, with the bronze statue “The Ceres” atop it, dominates the city’s skyline. 

You will find breathtaking murals, beautiful stone carvings, and detailed designs. It stands as an icon of governance and has been registered on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its heritage value. 

The Missouri State Penitentiary Is Located In Jefferson City

The Missouri State Penitentiary, located in Jefferson City, operated from 1836 to 2004 and earned the reputation as the “Bloodiest 47 Acres in America.” 

Housing notorious criminals, the prison witnessed frequent riots and violent incidents throughout its history. The facility was known for its harsh conditions and served as a testing ground for innovative prison programs. This is perhaps one of the darker historical facts of Missouri.

However, outdated infrastructure and safety concerns led to its closure in 2004. Today, the Missouri State Penitentiary stands as a historic landmark, offering guided tours to shed light on its dark past and the complexities of the criminal justice system.

The Joplin Tornado Was One Of The Deadliest In American History

On May 22, 2011, the city of Joplin, Missouri, was hit with a devastating EF5 tornado. It caused widespread destruction, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. With a death toll of 161 people, it stands as one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history. 

The tornado severely damaged homes, businesses, and infrastructure, impacting the lives of countless residents. However, the community found strength, and there was an outpouring of aid from volunteers and emergency services to help rebuild homes and lives. 

These challenging situations bring fore the robust community spirit within people and are both unfortunate yet encouraging facts about Missouri. 

Cultural Facts About Missouri

Missouri’s Culture Blends Elements Of The Midwest And South 

Located at the junction of the Midwestern and Southern United States, Missouri’s culture is a unique combination. The cuisine there offers a variety of tastes, from Southern barbeque to Midwestern comfort foods. Music has influences ranging from jazz to blues, mixing sounds from both regions. 

Buildings have a mix of styles seen nowhere else, while festivals show off traditional customs originating from either side. On top of this, Missouri’s cultural attitudes reflect a friendly and community-oriented blend of Midwestern hospitality and Southern politeness. This unique cultural blend creates a distinct identity for the state.

Missouri Earned The Nickname “Gateway to the West.” 

Missouri was named “Gateway to the West” due to its huge importance in the 19th century. With trails such as Oregon, California, and Santa Fe departing from there, it served as a major crossing point for explorers going westward. Its central location and access to big rivers made it an ideal spot for pioneers, traders, and adventurers to start their journey toward America’s western frontier. 

This nickname reflects Missouri’s excellent contribution to shaping the history and culture of the Western United States. 

Samuel Clemens, Better Known As Mark Twain, Was Born In Missouri

His experiences in Missouri, particularly along the Mississippi River, had a significant influence on his iconic novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” 

Twain’s works depict the region’s culture and way of life, capturing the spirit of adventure and social dynamics of 19th-century America. His use of vernacular language and keen observations made him a prominent figure in American literature. 

Today, Missouri celebrates Twain’s legacy through museums and landmarks that preserve his contributions to literature and the state’s cultural heritage. These are some of the things Missouri is famous for.

Missouri Has A Rich Musical Heritage In Jazz And Blues

Kansas City saw the emergence of famous musicians like Charlie Parker and Count Basie during the early 1900s. Energetic performances and innovative improvisation characterized the city’s vibrant jazz scene. On the other hand, St. Louis contributed to the development of blues music with influential artists like W.C. Handy and Albert King. 

Missouri’s musical legacy in jazz and blues extends beyond the state, influencing the broader landscape of American music. Festivals, museums, and venues continue to honor and celebrate this cultural heritage today. It’s one of the most fun facts about Missouri that you will get to experience when you visit.

Missouri’s Barbecue Culture Is A Huge Part Of Its Culinary Heritage

Missouri’s barbecue culture is a significant part of its culinary heritage, showcasing a blend of Kansas City and St. Louis styles. Kansas City-style barbecue features slow-cooked meats like pork ribs and beef brisket coated in a tangy tomato-based sauce. St. Louis-style barbecue focuses on pork spare ribs cooked with a sweet and savory sauce.

Barbecue isn’t simply a famous food in Missouri; it’s an experience that unites friends and family. It’s been enjoyed for generations, from outdoor cookouts to festive celebrations, reflecting a common admiration for flavorful meats and preserving local heritage recipes. Without a doubt, one of the most exciting Missouri facts for foodies.

Simple Facts About Missouri For Kids

Missouri Is Also Known As “The Cave State” Due To Its Vast Collection Of Over 6,000 Caves

Over the centuries, these underground formations have been created by erasing limestone and other rocks. Among these fascinating Missouri caves lies the only cave restaurant in America, located in Richland. People can enjoy a meal in this natural setting full of rock formations. 

These underground caverns attract spelunkers, scientists, and tourists who want to explore their geological wonders. This collection of hidden wonders gives Missouri its special name and gives visitors a chance to uncover something remarkable below the surface.

The 1904 World’s Fair Introduced Several Beloved Treats 

The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, brought forth several beloved treats that have since become culinary icons. Among them were cotton candy, iced tea, Dr. Pepper, and the waffle cone. 

Cotton candy enchanted fairgoers with its sugary fluffiness, while iced tea provided a refreshing beverage. Dr. Pepper debuted its unique flavor combination, and the waffle cone revolutionized how people enjoyed ice cream. These creations introduced at the event remain timeless delicacies that have made a lasting mark on culinary culture.

Valentine Tapley Made A Commitment During Lincoln’s Campaign

Valentine Tapley of Pike County, Missouri, made a strange commitment during Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign: he vowed not to shave again if Lincoln won the election. He stayed true to his word and kept his beard untrimmed. After years of growing untouched, Tapley’s facial hair had grown an astounding twelve feet and six inches in length. 

Tapley’s remarkable facial hair became a local spectacle, symbolizing his unwavering dedication to his promise. He maintained his beard until he died in 1910. While this is one of the amusing facts of Missouri, it also showcases a unique testament of loyalty and the connection between Tapley’s pledge and Lincoln’s presidency.

Missouri Day Is A State Holiday Celebrated Annually On January 4th 

Missouri Day is an official state holiday observed on January 4th each year to commemorate the time when Missouri joined the Union in 1821. On this day, many activities and events throughout the state allow citizens and visitors to recognize Missouri’s past, customs, and importance within the U.S. It is a great opportunity for people to pay tribute to and appreciate their state’s legacy.

The Missouri River Is The Longest River In The US

At 2,341 miles, the Missouri River is longer than any other river in the U.S. It starts at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Montana and snakes through several states before merging with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. 

This river has been crucial throughout American history, enabling exploration and colonization due to its navigability and abundant resources. To this day, it remains significant for transportation, agriculture, and recreational purposes. It is one of the key natural landmarks in Missouri.

Useful Facts About Missouri For Travelers

Missouri Experiences A Wide Variety Of Weather Conditions

Summers are hot and humid, while winters can be cold with occasional snowfall. It’s important to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. 

Missouri is situated in “Tornado Alley,” so tornadoes are always possible. It is one of the important facts about Missouri to know for travelers. It is highly recommended to follow local news and weather warnings for updates on current conditions.

In case of a severe storm or tornado warning, retreat quickly into an interior room without windows or go into a basement area for safety. Be prepared by staying informed about changing weather across Missouri—it’ll help you have an enjoyable trip!

You Must Try Missouri’s Local Dishes

The state’s culinary offerings are packed with delectable surprises, from tasteful BBQ and fried catfish to one-of-a-kind foods like toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake. Don’t forget to explore farm-to-table options, craft breweries, and wineries for some of the area’s best fresh produce and homemade recipes. 

Any food enthusiast looking for authentic tastes and an authentic experience from the region should not miss Missouri’s local cuisine.

Driving Along Route 66 Offers A Nostalgic And Unforgettable Journey

Travel down memory lane and have a remarkable adventure by driving along Route 66 in Missouri! This historic highway takes travelers through small towns, iconic landmarks, and classic diners, evoking a sense of Americana and adventure. 

Take photos at celebrated landmarks like the Chain of Rocks Bridge or the Mura to remember this special journey. Immerse yourself in the nostalgia, explore roadside attractions, enjoy diner cuisine, and connect with the unique character of Route 66 in Missouri.

Checking Event Calendars Is Crucial When Planning A Trip 

Before traveling to Missouri, a necessary part of the planning process is to look at its event calendars. The state hosts numerous festivals, fairs, and gatherings throughout the year, giving tourists a chance to explore and appreciate the culture and make lasting memories. 

By studying what’s happening in the cities, you can discover upcoming music events, ethnic festivals, art shows, athletic competitions, and more. 

The Ozarks Are A Must-Visit Destination Known For Their Natural Beauty And Outdoor Activities

Activities such as hiking, camping, boating, and fishing await you at lakes like Table Rock Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. You can also take in live music shows and family-friendly attractions in vibrant Branson. And don’t forget to take a scenic drive around charming small towns or discover unique overlooks! 

From exploring caves to taking in fall foliage, no trip to this remarkable region would be complete without experiencing the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that make the Ozarks special.

Discovering More Facts About Missouri

These fascinating facts about Missouri provide a glimpse into the state’s unique history, diverse culture, and natural beauty. As you explore the Show-Me State, you’ll discover even more intriguing tidbits that will make your journey extraordinary. 

Whether you’re a history buff, food enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, there are opportunities for exciting experiences. Explore, create lasting memories, and uncover more incredible facts about the state of Missouri.


PIN THESE FACTS ABOUT MISSOURI FOR LATER

PLANNING YOUR TRIP? CHECK THESE RESOURCES!

Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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