80 Fun & Interesting Facts About Missouri, USA

The Midwestern state of Missouri is the home of Mark Twain, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Budweiser beer. Have you ever wondered what else Missouri is famous for?

Find out with these 80 crazy, interesting, and fun facts about Missouri! These will span general facts, random and weird facts, and finally, facts covering the history of Missouri. 

General Missouri Facts

  • Missouri is a state in the American Midwest, along with a dozen or so other states. It is at the south-center of the Midwestern region.
  • Missouri is the 21st largest state of the 50 states, covering 69,709 mi2 (180,546 km2). It is between Oklahoma and Florida, or similar to Cambodia in size.
  • The two largest rivers in the US run though Missouri. The Missouri River connects Kansas City to St. Louis, while the Mississippi forms the border between Missouri and Illinois & Kentucky. The two rivers meet just north of St. Louis.
  • Missouri is the 19th most populous state in the US, with 6.18 million people. That puts it between Wisconsin and Maryland.
  • Why is Kansas City not in Kansas? Well, the city is actually split between Missouri and Kansas. At the time it was first named, the state of Kansas didn’t exist yet, but it grew west from this city.
Union Station and skyline of Kansas City
Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri.
  • The most populous of Missouri’s 115 counties is St. Louis County, with 1 million residents. Mainly it consists of the suburbs of St. Louis, the state’s second largest city.
  • People from Missouri are called Missourians.
  • Missourians are often called some of the friendliest people in the US.
  • The Missouri flag has red, white, and blue bands with the Missouri arms at the center. The arms includes two grizzly bears, representing bravery, with 24 stars around it, because Missouri was the 24th state.
  • Even though there are two grizzly bears on the state arms, grizzlies have never lived in Missouri.
The flag of Missouri
The Missouri state flag
  • A tribe of Sioux Indians–the Missouris–are the source of the name for Missouri state. The name, which often gets mistranslated, means “the town of the large canoes”.
  • Missouri has several nicknames, none official. The most common one is “The Show-Me State,” which appears on its license plates. There are various origin theories for this nickname, including skepticism among locals and early miners that needed to be shown how to do their jobs.
  • Other nicknames include “The Lead State”, “The Bullion State”, “The Ozark State”, “The Mother of the West”, “The Iron Mountain State”, “The Pennsylvania of the West”, and “the Cave State”.
  • Missouri’s official state motto in English is “Let the good of the people be the supreme law”.
  • The state acronym for Missouri is MO. Don’t confuse it with Mississippi (MS).

Random Interesting Facts About Missouri

  • Anheuser-Busch, once the world’s largest beer company, started and is still headquartered in St. Louise, Missouri, though today it is a subsidiary of the Belgian company InBev. Their beers include Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch.
Gateway Arch reflecting on water at night
Gateway Arch is a symbol of St. Louis and Missouri
  • The smallest national park in the Unites States is Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri. It is 0.14 mi2 (0.37 km2). The arch was built to commemorate the city’s role as a western frontier. It is the tallest national monument in the US and the state’s only national park.
  • There are no UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Missouri, but Cahokia Mounds UNESCO site is just across the Mississippi from St. Louis in Illinois.
  • A total of 93 state parks are found in Missouri, covering 0.34% of the land, putting it in the bottom 15 states in the US for protected land.
  • The Mark Twain National Forest is the largest in Missouri and contains 11% of the state’s forested land. There’s also a Mark Twain Lake in Missouri.
  • Missouri has over 10,000 farms, which occupy over 66% of the state’s total land area.
View of Mark Twain Lake
Missouri has a national forest and a lake named after Mark Twain.
  • Union Station Kansas City was once one of the busiest stations in America, serving over 650,000 passengers per year around the end of WWII. It closed in 1985, but reopened in 1999 to house various attractions, and now there are trains running there again.
  • Kansas City is just behind Rome in total number of fountains, with over 200 fountains in the city. It’s even sometimes nicknamed “The City of Fountains.”
  • There are more miles of boulevards in Kansas City than there are in Paris.
  • While there are around 50 types of snake in Missouri, only two deaths from snakebite have ever been recorded: one from a timber rattlesnake in 1933, and another in 1965 from a copperhead snake.
  • The largest animal in North America is the bison, which, unlike grizzlies, really can be found in Missouri.
The inside of a cave in Missouri.
Bridal Cave at Lake of the Ozarks. Missouri is known for its many caves.
  • Missouri contains over 7,300 caves, second only to Tennessee. There was even a cave restaurant in Richland, Missouri (recently closed).
  • Missouri’s highest point is 1,772 feet high at the Taum Sauk Mountain.
  • Missouri is subject to various natural disasters, including thunderstorms, hail, river flooding, ice storms, heat waves, blizzards, and earthquakes.
  • 90% of Missouri was impacted by the 1925 Tri-State Tornado, the most destructive tornado in US history. Over 750 people died in the state and neighboring Illinois and Indiana.
  • Between December 1811 and April 1812, Missouri experienced a natural disaster unlike any other–the state had over two thousand earthquake tremors in a span of five months.
A rural scene of trees and farms in Missouri
Two-thirds of Missouri is rural farmland.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Missouri happened three times: on July 15 and 18, 1936 in Clinton and Lamar respectively, and July 14, 1954 in Warsaw and Union. It was 118°F (47.8°C).
  • Writer Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), essayist T.S. Eliot, and poet Maya Angelou were born in Missouri, while Laura Elizabeth Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) was born in Wisconsin but grew up in Missouri.
  • Other famous Missourians include musicians Chuck Berry, Sheryl Crow, Eminem, and Akon, actresses Doris Roberts and Ellie Kemper, actors Jon Goodman and Don Cheadle, and comedian Kevin Nealon.
  • The 33rd president of the US, Harry S. Truman, is the only US president to have been born in Missouri.
A mosaic of famous people from Missouri
Famous Missourians Mark Twain, Harry Truman, Doris Roberts, Jon Goodman, Sheryl Crow, Eminem (clockwise from top left)
  • Missouri has produced four Nobel prize winners: Roger D. Kornberg (2006, Chemistry), Jack Kilby (2000, Physics), Steven Chu (1997, Physics) and T.S Eliot (1948, Literature).
  • Famous things invented in Missouri include the ice cream cone, 7-Up, iced tea, and monster trucks.
  • The first ready-mix food to ever be sold commercially was Aunt Jemima pancake flour, which was invented in St. Louis in in 1889. Its name was changed to Pearl Milling Company in 2021.
  • The inventors of the micro chip (Jack Kilby) and LCD screen (James Fergason) were born in Missouri.
  • A wealthy Missouri farmer called Valentine Tapley swore he’d never shave again if Abraham Lincoln were elected. Valentine kept his word, growing his beard to twelve feet and six inches by his death in 1910.
Label from Aunt Jemima pancake mix
Aunt Jemima was created in Missouri.
  • The fastest-growing industry in Missouri today is food processing.
  • Transportation equipment is one of Missouri’s top exports, including auto parts, automobiles, aerospace equipment, and defence technology.
  • Missouri’s wine industry was first established by German migrants in the early 1800s, so the region is sometimes called “Missouri Rhineland”. Prior to prohibition, it was the second highest producing state, after California, but today it is not even in the top 10.
Wine grapes on a farm in Missouri
Missouri used to be a major wine producer.
  • In Missouri, if you’re under the age of 21 and are caught taking out the trash containing a single alcoholic beverage container, you can be charged with illegal possession.
  • It’s unlawful to frighten a baby in Missouri.
  • Throwing hard objects by hand is a violation of the law in Missouri.
  • It was illegal to educate people of color before 1866 in Missouri. So, Reverend John Berry Meachum found a way around this law. He would take his students of color out on a boat in the middle of the Mississippi River to give them class.

Historical Facts About Missouri

  • Evidence of human remains go back to at least 9000 BCE in Missouri.
  • From 800 to 1600 CE, the Mississippian culture flourished in the region, with a major center on the Mississippi River valley around St. Louis. They build large platform mounds and cultivated maize.
  • Beyond the Mississippi, most of Missouri remained uninhabited for centuries.
Cahokia mound covered in grass near St Louis Missouri
Cahokia mounds left by the Mississippian culture around St. Louis
  • The first Europeans to set foot in Missouri were Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet. They were travelling down the Mississippi River in 1673.
  • French people from Canada founded the first permanent European settlement in Missouri around 1750, called Sainte Genevieve.
  • Such early European settlements adopted African and Native American slave labor to develop fur trade and agriculture.
  • Starting in 1764, Spain started to take over the area, making it part of New Spain.
  • France gained it back under Napoleon, until the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, when the United States bought a huge area including Missouri and parts of over a dozen other states. The US paid around $18 per square mile for the land. 
Exterior of a large church in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri
A church in Sainte Genevieve, the first European settlement in Missouri
  • Missouri became known as the “Gateway to the West” because many expeditions to the unexplored west started from there.
  • St. Charles, just west of St. Louis, was the starting and ending point of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. The expedition, which lasted from 1803 to 1806, was to explore the newly acquired area after the Louisiana Purchase.
  • In 1808, the first newspaper in Missouri, the Missouri Gazette, was founded by Joseph Charles.
  • On August 10, 1821, Missouri became the 24th state to join the Union.
Exterior of Anheuser Busch building in St. Louis, Missouri
Anheuser Busch headquarters in St. Louis
  • In 1852, German American George Schneider opened the Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis, which would later be purchased by pharmacist Eberhard Anheuser. Adolphus Busch would later marry Anheuser’s daughter and get involved in the company, hence the name “Anheuser Busch”.
  • From 1860 to 1861, the Pony Express operated from Missouri to California. People rode horses to deliver messages, cutting the time to send messages from the east to west coast down to 10 days, until the telegraph was invented.
  • During the Civil War (1861 to 1865), Missouri was the third most fought-over state after Virginia and Tennessee, with its population split between Union and Confederate supporters. Over 1000 battles took place there.
  • Dred Scott (a slave) sued the state for his freedom in 1846. He ended up losing, but his case received national attention and fueled the debate over slavery.
  • Missouri became the first state to free its slaves in 1865.
A depiction of Jesse James robbing a bank in Missouri
Famous Missourian bank robber Jesse James
  • From the 1860s to 1880s, Jesse James of Missouri became one of the most famous robbers in US history. In 1995, local archaeologists and descendants dug up his grave to learn more about him.
  • The first public kindergarten in the US was by opened Susan Elizabeth Blow in Missouri in 1873. She had learned about philosopher Friedrich Froehel’s kindergarten methods while traveling in Germany.
  • During the 1904 Olympic marathon, several strange things happened: the winner hitched a car-ride for the majority of the race, the fourth place winner had taken a nap during the marathon, and another runner got chased out by a pack of dogs.
  • In 1908, the University of Missouri opened the first school for journalism in the world.
Columns framing a building at the University of Missouri
The University of Missouri in Columbia
  • On March 1, 1912, the first successful parachute jump from a moving plane was made near St. Louis, above the Jefferson Barracks military post.
  • In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Missouri and much of the Midwest transformed from rural to semi-industrialized, but this boom declined in the 1960s and 70s.
  • In 1948, Harry Truman of Missouri was elected the 33rd president of the United States.
  • In 1965, the St. Louis Gateway Arch was completed.
  • In 1992, Missouri voters chose to allow riverboat gambling trips on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
A bridge across the Mississippi River, with downtown St. Louis in the background
The Mississippi flows past St. Louis
  • In 2008, the Belgian company InBev bought Anheuser-Busch.
  • On August 9, 2014, Missouri received international attention after a white police officer shot black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, leading to major protests.