What is Missouri Known For (besides the obvious…)

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Missouri, a Midwestern state in the United States, is renowned for its rich history and diverse terrain. Bordered by eight other states, Missouri possesses a variety of landforms, rivers, lakes, and other geographical features that contribute to its unique character. With lively urban centers like St. Louis and Kansas City, visitors and residents alike enjoy the blend of urban life, natural beauty, and traditional values that the state offers.

One of the most famous aspects of Missouri is its esteemed University of Missouri, commonly referred to as Mizzou. Boasting unwavering loyalty from its fans, the university marks the zenith of pride for the state. Missouri is also famous for its delicious barbecue, as well as being home to the largest and oldest Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) brewery. Additionally, the state boasts an abundance of natural beauty with sites such as the Ozarks, countless caves, and miles of picturesque farmland.

St. Louis over the Mississippi River

In Missouri, you can encounter everything from rich cultural experiences to fascinating historical landmarks. Its blend of urban excitement and rural charm make it a destination that offers something for everyone.

Geographical Features

Ozarks and Caves

Missouri is home to the famous Ozark Plateau, a region known for its enchanting rolling hills and valleys. The Ozarks, which stretch across the southern and central parts of the state, are a must-see destination for those interested in exploring the beauty and natural diversity of Missouri. The area is also renowned for its extensive network of caves, with over 7,300 recorded caves, earning Missouri the nickname “The Cave State.” These geological wonders offer tourists and locals alike the opportunity to venture deep into the earth and uncover the hidden treasures of the state’s subterranean landscapes.

Mississippi and Missouri Rivers

Two of the United States’ most important and iconic rivers – the Mississippi River and the Missouri River – play a significant role in shaping the geography of Missouri. The Missouri River, the longest river in North America, runs through the state from west to east, bisecting it and serving as a significant transportation and trade route. On the eastern border of Missouri, the powerful Mississippi River forms a natural boundary with Illinois and Tennessee, creating an important conduit for commerce and navigation.

The confluence of these two mighty rivers near St. Louis has played a pivotal role in the state’s history and its involvement in the Louisiana Purchase. The strategic location of Missouri at the heart of the nation’s river systems has contributed to its development as a vital crossroads for transportation, trade, and cultural exchange.


The history of Missouri begins with the settlement of indigenous people in the region during the Paleo-Indian period around 12,000 BC. The area was later inhabited by various Native American tribes until the arrival of the French settlers in the 17th century. Notably, Sainte Genevieve, on the western bank of the Mississippi River, was established by French lead miners and hunters in about 1735.

Missouri played a significant role in the United States’ history, particularly regarding the Missouri Compromise of 1821. As part of this compromise, Missouri was admitted as a slave state to maintain the balance of power between slave and free states. This compromise, however, only delayed the conflict that would eventually lead to the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, Missouri held a strategic position as a border state between the North and the South. The state witnessed numerous battles as both sides sought to control it. Additionally, the famous Pony Express originated in Missouri, which further connects the state to the development and expansion of the United States.

Missouri was also an integral part of the Lewis and Clark expedition, which followed the Missouri River in their exploration of the western territories acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. This exploration was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who sought to map and document the newly acquired lands to the west.

During World War II, Missouri contributed to the war effort in various ways, such as through manufacturing and the development of military installations. The state’s connection to this global conflict demonstrates the importance of Missouri to the broader history of the United States.

Missouri’s food culture reflects the diverse influences of its history, with culinary traditions originating from both indigenous populations and European settlers. Food items such as barbecue and toasted ravioli can trace their roots back to the unique and varied history of the Show Me State.

Cities and Population

Kansas City Missouri Skyline From Penn Valley Park

Missouri is known for its lively and bustling cities, with the most notable ones being St. Louis and Kansas City. St. Louis, with a population of 279,390, is famous for its iconic Gateway Arch and offers a mix of cultural attractions, sports, and entertainment. Kansas City, on the other hand, is the most populous city in Missouri, housing 509,319 residents. As the largest city in the state, Kansas City is known for its vibrant arts scene, museums, and delicious BBQ cuisine.

Jefferson City is the capital of Missouri and is well-regarded for its historical sites and picturesque downtown area. While not as large as St. Louis or Kansas City, Jefferson City holds its own as an important center for government and commerce within the state.

The state’s growing population currently stands at approximately 6,177,957 residents, which can be attributed to a mix of urban and rural communities, creating a diverse and fascinating cultural backdrop. In addition to the aforementioned cities, other populous cities in Missouri include Springfield, Columbia, Independence, Lee’s Summit, and St. Joseph.

One fascinating feature of Kansas City is its reputation as the City of Fountains, due to the multitude of beautiful fountains found throughout the city. This distinctive moniker lends an air of charm and elegance to the urban environment.

By highlighting the unique aspects of each of its cities, it’s clear that Missouri offers an impressive array of opportunities and attractions for both visitors and residents, all set against a backdrop of warm and welcoming Midwestern atmosphere.

Economy and Agriculture

Missouri plays a significant role in the nation’s economy and agriculture, boasting a diverse agricultural industry with strong crops and livestock sectors. The state is known for having nearly 100,000 farms that cover two-thirds of its total land acreage. This extensive farmland supports the production of many top agricultural commodities, including soybeans, corn, cattle, hogs, and turkeys.

Farmland in Fortuna, Missouri

Soybeans are the most important crop in Missouri, as they are used in the production of various oils. The state ranks 7th in the United States for soybean production. Corn is another significant crop, primarily used for livestock feed. Missouri also produces substantial amounts of grain sorghum, cotton, hay, and wheat.

In 2021, the agriculture, forestry, and related industries in Missouri contributed an estimated $93.7 billion to the state’s economy, with a value added of $34.9 billion and creating 456,618 jobs. The state generated approximately $12.2 billion in agricultural cash receipts that year, with the highest valued commodities being soybeans, corn, and cattle and calves. The value of Missouri’s agricultural production and processing industries represented 4.4 percent of the state’s total GDP in 2021.

Missouri’s agriculture is not limited to crop production. The livestock industry, particularly cattle and hogs, plays a significant role in the state’s economy. The Show-Me State is known for its high-quality beef and pork products, which are exported to different parts of the country.

To summarize, Missouri is known for its strong economy and agriculture, with extensive farmland and a vast range of crops and livestock. The state’s economic performance is closely tied to the success of its agricultural industry, which continues to be a significant contributor to employment, GDP, and overall strength of Missouri.

Famous Landmarks

Missouri, located in the heart of America, is home to several iconic landmarks worth visiting. One of the most recognizable symbols of the state is the Gateway Arch, situated in St. Louis. This magnificent structure, also known as the “Gateway to the West,” commemorates the journey of Lewis and Clark, who started their expedition from St. Louis in 1804. The arch is part of the Gateway Arch National Park, which celebrates the pioneers and explorers who contributed to the westward expansion of the United States.

For sports enthusiasts, Missouri boasts two major league baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams have won multiple championships and are beloved by their local communities. Catching a game at either Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City or Busch Stadium in St. Louis is a quintessential Missouri experience.

Nature lovers can enjoy breathtaking views of the highest point in Missouri, Taum Sauk Mountain. Located in the St. Francois Mountains, Taum Sauk Mountain showcases the state’s diverse geological formations and offers outdoor enthusiasts excellent hiking trails and scenic vistas.

A trip to Missouri wouldn’t be complete without exploring Meramec Caverns, a natural limestone cave system with awe-inspiring formations and a rich history. Visitors can marvel at the stunning mineral deposits, take guided tours exploring stalactites and stalagmites, and hear intriguing tales of past explorers and outlaws who sought refuge in the caverns.

These landmarks are just a few of the many attractions that make Missouri a unique and engaging destination for travelers. Whether you are drawn to the historic significance, natural beauty, or vibrant sports culture, Missouri has something to offer for everyone.

Cuisine and Food Traditions

Missouri is known for its diverse and mouthwatering cuisine, featuring a blend of various culinary traditions that reflect the state’s rich history and geography. One of the most iconic dishes you’ll come across in Missouri is St. Louis-style pizza. This unique pizza is characterized by a thin, crisp crust and topped with Provel cheese, a processed blend of Swiss cheese, provolone, and mozzarella, making it a love-it-or-hate-it dish for many, but undeniably a Missouri staple source.

A visit to Missouri would be incomplete without indulging in their iconic barbecue. The state, especially Kansas City, is famous for its BBQ rib dishes that are slow-smoked and coated with a thick, tangy sauce source. Similarly, toasted ravioli is another Missouri culinary treasure that has its roots in St. Louis and has become a popular appetizer statewide source.

On the sweeter side of Missouri food, gooey butter cake is a delightful dessert originating from St. Louis, featuring a dense, rich layer of butter and sugar topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Another sweet treat with Missouri roots is the ice cream cone, which was popularized during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and has become a ubiquitous symbol of summer treats all over the country source.

In the world of beverages, Anheuser-Busch, based in St. Louis, is the producer of the well-known Budweiser beer and is the largest brewing company in the United States. Aside from beer, Missouri is also known for being the supposed birthplace of iced tea, with the refreshing beverage gaining attention at the 1904 World’s Fair as well source.

With a rich blend of culinary influences, Missouri’s food scene offers a wide range of flavors and cultural experiences. From savory barbecue dishes to sweet confectionery creations, the Show-Me State has something for everyone.

Literature and Notable People

Missouri has made significant contributions to American literature and history through its notable people and their works. One of the most famous Missouri-born authors is Mark Twain, born in the town of Hannibal in 1835. Twain is best known for his novels, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” which capture the essence of life along the Mississippi River in the 19th century. The state has honored him by naming the Mark Twain National Forest after him, as well as preserving the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal as a museum.

In addition to Twain, the state has produced prominent figures in politics, such as Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. Born and raised in Missouri, Truman was a plain-speaking man whose presidency saw the end of World War II and the beginning of the Korean War. His decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945 remains one of the most significant and controversial events in US history.

Missouri is also known for some infamous people, like Jesse James, an American outlaw and legendary Wild West figure. Born in Kearney, Missouri in 1847, James was a notorious leader of a gang of outlaws who robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains during the late 19th century. His exploits have been the subject of numerous books, movies, and television shows, solidifying his place as a symbol of Missouri’s outlaw history.

The state’s contributions to American culture and history span from literature and politics to the adventures of its legendary figures, showcasing a diverse and rich heritage that continues to captivate generations.

Sports and Teams

Missouri is home to a number of professional and collegiate sports teams, making it a major hub for sports enthusiasts. One of the state’s most popular sports is baseball, with two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams – the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals – calling Missouri their home. Both teams have a storied history, with the Cardinals boasting 11 World Series Championships and the Royals earning two titles.

Cornell Hall of University of Missouri

The University of Missouri, also known as Mizzou, plays a significant role in the state’s sporting landscape. Mizzou’s athletic teams, known as the Tigers, compete in various sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball, and occasionally serve as the breeding ground for future professional athletes.

Besides baseball, Missouri is also represented in other major professional sports leagues. In the National Football League (NFL), the Kansas City Chiefs dominate, having recently won the Super Bowl in the 2019 season. On the other hand, the National Hockey League (NHL) features the St. Louis Blues, the 2019 Stanley Cup champions. Missouri’s sports scene is vibrant, attracting fans from all over the country to support and celebrate their favorite teams.

In summary, Missouri’s sports culture is largely driven by its professional and collegiate teams. With baseball, football, and hockey teams boasting World Series, Super Bowl, and Stanley Cup championships, the state has plenty to be proud of and a rich sports history that adds to its identity.

Natural Disasters and Weather

Missouri is known for its diverse geography, which, unfortunately, makes it prone to various natural disasters. The state’s location in the heartland of America puts it at the risk of tornadoes, as it lies within the region of the United States known as Tornado Alley. Tornadoes are one of the most devastating weather events that can occur in Missouri, typically striking with high winds and the potential to cause massive destruction.

In addition to tornadoes, Missouri residents frequently face the challenge of severe storms and flooding. The state’s many rivers and streams can easily become inundated after periods of heavy rain, leading to damage in both urban and rural areas. Floods are often the result of intense thunderstorms, which can also bring damaging hail, strong winds, and lightning.

Missouri’s unpredictable weather patterns also include the possibility of severe winter weather events. Ice storms can blanket roadways and power lines, causing dangerous driving conditions and power outages that can last for days. Additionally, heavy snowfall can occur, adding to the list of potential hazards that residents must prepare for each year.

It is worth noting that the state is also at risk for earthquakes. While infrequent, Missouri is part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area known for producing strong earthquakes in the past. Preparing for these various natural disasters is essential for anyone living in or visiting the state of Missouri.

To stay informed and equipped for stormy weather, it is crucial to pay attention to local weather reports and follow the advice of the Missouri Emergency Management Agency and other relevant organizations. By being proactive and taking necessary safety precautions, residents can minimize potential harm caused by these natural disasters.

Unique Characteristics and Nicknames

Missouri, also known as the Show Me State, has a rich history and a wide range of unique features that set it apart from other states. Its capital city is Jefferson City, and the state boasts an array of nicknames, including “The Cave State” due to the numerous caves and caverns found throughout the area. The state is also known for its clever and tongue-in-cheek nicknames like “The Misery State” and “Misery Loves Company.”

The state plays a significant role in American history, particularly in the city of Independence, known as the starting point for the California, Santa Fe, and Oregon trails. Additionally, Missouri was the birthplace of the Pony Express, further cementing its place in history.

Missouri is also recognized for its fountains, with Kansas City often being called the “City of Fountains.” There are more than 200 fountains throughout the city, second only to Rome in terms of the number of fountains it hosts.

Several inventions are attributed to Missouri, including the ice cream cone, which was introduced during the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. This dessert innovation quickly became popular and is now synonymous with summertime treats.

In terms of wildlife, the Eastern Bluebird is the state bird of Missouri. This vibrant and charming bird can be found throughout the state, particularly in open woodlands and near nesting boxes provided by residents.

Overall, Missouri’s unique characteristics, nicknames, and contributions to American history make it a fascinating state with plenty to explore and learn about.