Just the Facts…bird – Bluebird flower – Hawthorn tree – Flowering Dogwood capital – Jefferson City union – 24th state on August 10, 1821 population – about 6 million
Missouri was the first state to be admitted in the Union from the “West” - west of the Mississippi River, that is. Up until Missouri, all the states in America were east of the Mississippi River.
Missouri was originally owned by France. The French established St. Louis shortly after settling New Orleans and, because of its location along the Mississippi, it quickly became the main hub for France’s fur trade in North America. Then, America bought Missouri from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Missouri lies at the intersection of 3 large rivers – the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers. The Ozark Mountains lie in the southern part of the state. Northern Missouri is more flat, with gently rolling hills.
Its Claim to Fame
Missouri is known as the Gateway to the West - the Louis & Clark Expedition, Oregon Trail, Sante Fe Trail, and Pony Express Trail all headed west from locations within Missouri. Missouri’s part in the exploration and settling of the West is commemorated by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and is the tallest monument in America. In fact, it is also the tallest building in St. Louis (it stands 630 feet tall)!
Lewis & Clark set out for their famous exploration of the west from St. Louis in 1804, one year after America purchased the land from France. President Thomas Jefferson wanted some information about America’s new land, specifically whether there is a direct water route to the Pacific Ocean.
Missouri applied for statehood right before the Civil War, when tensions were high. Neither the South nor the North wanted the other to get an upper hand by gaining more states (and therefore more votes in Congress). The Missouri Compromise was an attempt to keep the peace in our young nation – it kept the number of states equal on each side of the issue by establishing which new states and territories may allow slavery and which must prohibit slavery. As a result of the Compromise, Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state, provided that the rest of the Louisiana territory would prohibit slavery.
What Makes it Tick
Like many states, agriculture has been an important part of Missouri’s economy over the years. Northern Missouri has agricultural crops similar to other midwestern states – corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, and turkeys. The agriculture of southern Missouri, however, is closer to that of other southern states – cotton and rice are grown in southern Missouri.
In addition, shipping was big business in Missouri – both its river shipping and railroads connected the east with west and the north with south. Missouri railroads were the first to reach Texas and became an important link between Texas and the rest of America. Even today, a large number of trains carry freight between Texas and Missouri.
If You Visited
You might go to the Pony Express National Museum in St. Joseph. The Pony Express was like a post office on horseback. It was a 2,000 mile trail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California and took about 10 days for mail to travel from end to end. For almost two years (1860-1861) it was the only way to send information to, or receive information from, California. Riders were stationed all along the Pony Express trail and would take turns carrying mail in their saddlebags to the next station. The Pony Express was discontinued once telegraph lines were run all the way to California.
You might also take a ride on a paddle boat on the mighty Mississippi. The “Mark Twain” is a replica of a 19th century riverboat and is docked in Hannibal, Missouri, which was the childhood home of famous author Mark Twain. Paddle boats were popular on the Mississippi River during the 19th Century. A paddle boat has a “paddle” either in the back or along the side, which look like little ferris wheels – the paddles move the boat forward by turning round and round. Another feature that made paddle boats popular on the River was that, due to their design, they could maneuver in shallow waters. There was a time when paddle boats were vital to settlements along the Mississippi – it is how goods and people traveled along the River (they went all the way up the Mississippi River to Minnesota).
Want to Know More?
Check our Missouri state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.
Do you live in Missouri? Or, maybe you have visited Missouri? We want to hear from you!! Post a comment at the end of this page.
- What is your very favorite thing about Missouri?
- What is your favorite thing to eat?
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?
Do you have any photos of Missouri to share? Email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids
Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Missouri. Visit these websites to learn more: