What is Missouri known for?
Missouri is known for its major cities such as St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jefferson City. It is also known for the Missouri River and the Mississippi River flowing through it, as well as the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the tallest man-made monument in the western hemisphere.
Missouri is also home to professional sports teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. Missouri is known for being the birthplace of famous American authors, actors, and other noteworthy figures.
Missouri may often get overlooked. It sits inconspicuously inland from the coasts and is not home to any of America’s great metropolises. Taking a closer look, however, shows that Missouri has a lot to be proud of! For example, in America’s early days, it was considered to be “The Gateway to the West.”
In this article, we will take a look at some of the things that Missouri is known for.
- 21 Things Missouri is Known For
- 1. St. Louis
- 2. St. Louis Pizza
- 3. Kansas City
- 4. Jefferson City
- 5. Missouri and Mississippi Rivers
- 6. Mark Twain
- 7. Walt Disney
- 8. George Washington Carver
- 9. The Missouri Compromise
- 10. The American Civil War
- 11. Jesse James
- 12. The Pony Express
- 13. Ozark Mountains
- 14. The Cave State
- 15. Tornadoes
- 16. Farmland
- 17. The “Iron Curtain” Speech
- 18. Maya Angelou
- 19. Dick Van Dyke
- 20. John Goodman
- 21. The Show Me State
- FAQs About Famous Missouri Things
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21 Things Missouri is Known For
1. St. Louis
The city of St. Louis sits on the eastern edge of Missouri, but in many ways, it is the center of the state. The most famous landmark in the city is the stunning Gateway Arch.
The Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest arch, commemorates the journey of Lewis and Clark, who started out from St. Louis in 1804. Missouri. This momentous expedition gave St. Louis its nickname, “the Gateway to the West.”
Aside from its historical significance, St. Louis has also been a cultural center for Missouri for many years. For fans of blues music, St. Louis is world-famous. The top blues clubs in St. Louis are found in the downtown area, along with many other attractions.
2. St. Louis Pizza
While taking in the tunes at a blues club, one can also savor the St. Louis-style pizza. While nearby Chicago, Illinois is known for its deep-dish pizzas, this local specialty bears more resemblance to the thin crust of the Windy City’s rival, New York.
St. Louis’ pizza has a cracker-like crust made without yeast and uses Provel cheese. Not only that, it is usually cut into squares instead of the traditional wedge.
One can find this distinctive dish throughout the city, whether at a club or taking in a game of one of the city’s professional sports teams. St. Louis is home to a hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, and an MLB team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
3. Kansas City
St. Louis and Kansas City are easily the two most famous cities in the state. Of the two, Kansas City is the largest, with a population of over 500,000 to St. Louis’, which falls just short of 300,000. While a river in Kansas is known for giving its name to this city, most of the city lies within Missouri’s borders.
Kansas City also has a stake in the world of sports. The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs have put the city on the map in recent years, but it also hosts an MLB team, the Kansas City Royals.
While St. Louis sports fans have pizza as their go-to snack for the game, Kansas City residents have the savory Kansas City Barbecue. Missouri, after all, is one of the midwestern United States, and the states that make up the Midwest are known for having some pretty amazing food. It may not be the most exotic and trendy cuisine, but it is certainly good eating.
4. Jefferson City
While the two above-mentioned cities are the most famous in Missouri, neither of them is the capital. Jefferson City, located in central Missouri, is the capital city. The state legislature, the Missouri General Assembly, meets in the capitol building. The current location of the capitol is the most recent in a series of six places to hold that dignity.
5. Missouri and Mississippi Rivers
Both of these famous American rivers played an important role in the history of Missouri and continue to do so until today.
The Missouri River was one of the most important geographical features of the state, being the gateway for westward exploration and expansion. From here, Lewis and Clark began their voyage through the other states along the Missouri River.
The Mississippi River forms the entire eastern boundary of Missouri. One famous sight from the states through which the Mississippi River flows is the old paddle-wheeler boats.
Although nowadays they mostly serve as tourist attractions, these boats once served as important passenger and cargo vessels. They also had an influence on one of the most famous residents of Missouri, Mark Twain.
6. Mark Twain
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the man who would go on to pen the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer is better known by his pen name of Mark Twain. During a trip on a paddle boat, a navigational term struck the fancy of Sam Clemens.
The phrase “Mark Twain” was a reference to the depth of the water. The navigators marked two measures (twain is an old word for two) of depth, coming out to about 12 feet.
Several places throughout the state of Missouri keep the memory of this beloved author alive. His birthplace in Florida, Missouri was designated as a state park bearing his name. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home stands in the town of Hannibal, Missouri. The Mark Twain National Forest covers 1.5 million acres of southern Missouri.
❓ Trivia Time: The Mark Twain National Forest is quite large, but which state has the largest National Park?
7. Walt Disney
Another resident of Missouri famous for artistic contributions to the world is none other than Walt Disney. Although born in Illinois, Disney set up his first animation studio in Kansas City, Missouri.
Here he made his earliest films and the idea for Mickey Mouse was born.
8. George Washington Carver
Missouri has also made significant contributions to science as well as the arts. One of the most famous scientists from Missouri is George Washington Carver.
Although Alabama is known for being the site of his most famous experiments, he grew up in Missouri. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the site of Carver’s boyhood home to be a national monument, including a wide swath of the rolling hills and forest in the surrounding area as part of the park.
9. The Missouri Compromise
Missouri entered the Union as a slave state in 1820. As part of the so-called “Missouri Compromise” between free and slave states, the state of Maine entered as a free state, and slavery was forbidden in the western territories north of Missouri.
10. The American Civil War
When tensions over slavery and states’ rights spilled over into civil war, Missouri again found itself in a compromised position.
The state mirrored the broader division of the nation, having factions in favor of opposing sides and even intra-state confrontations between the two. Eventually, though, the state sided with the Union after pro-Confederacy leaders fled the capital, forming a government “in exile” in Neosho, Missouri.
11. Jesse James
One of America’s most notorious outlaws, Jesse James, was born in Clay County, Missouri. In the Civil War, he fought on the side of the Confederacy as a guerilla fighter along with his brother Frank. As guerilla fighters, they engaged in hit-and-run raids not only on Union soldiers but even on pro-Union civilians.
After the war, the James brothers led a gang of outlaws on a robbing spree throughout the Midwest. Eventually, Jesse James met his end in St. Joseph, Missouri. John Ford, a new recruit to the gang, betrayed James in order to collect the bounty on his head.
12. The Pony Express
Another thing Missouri is known for is the Pony Express. This short-lived but iconic chapter in American history had its eastern terminus in Missouri.
From April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861, relay riders carried messages along a 1,900-mile route between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. The route crossed the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and much more that was still untamed at the time. The establishment of a transcontinental telegraph service quickly outpaced the Pony Express, bringing it to an early end.
13. Ozark Mountains
Missouri is famous for its natural beauty, and one of the best places to see that beauty is in the Ozarks. The highest point (1,772’) in the state is found in these mountains, in the Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. Missouri’s neighbor to the south, Arkansas, is known for these low-lying, yet beautiful mountains as well.
14. The Cave State
Underneath these mountains, one can also find extensive caves. Missouri’s Department of Conservation puts the number of caves in the state at over 7,000. The type of rock found in Missouri lends itself to the formation of caves, sinkholes, and other similar geological formations. These caves enjoyed fame since humans first inhabited Missouri, and likely served as the inspiration for some of Tom Sawyer’s adventures.
❓ Trivia Time: Which state has the most caves?
Missouri is not considered to be one of the states in Tornado Alley, but it has its fair share. The central and northern plains states may get most of the attention when these twisters touch down, but several of the deadliest of these natural disasters occurred in Missouri.
Missouri, like any other good Midwestern state, is rich in agriculture. According to statistics from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, forestry and agriculture contributed $93.7 billion to the state’s economy. Soybeans, cotton, corn, and rice make up the major crops grown in Missouri.
17. The “Iron Curtain” Speech
After the Allied victory in World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was invited to give a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Although the official title was “Sinews of Peace,” the speech is best remembered for coining the phrase “Iron Curtain.” Churchill used this phrase to describe the new cultural isolationism enacted by communist Eastern bloc countries after the war.
18. Maya Angelou
In more recent times, Missouri has continued to contribute to American arts. Author and poet Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, with the name Marguerite Johnson. Before becoming famous for her literary works, she worked as a nightclub singer, taking Maya Angelou as a stage name. Her most famous works include I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, And Still I Rise, and The Heart of A Woman.
19. Dick Van Dyke
In addition to authors and scientists, Missouri has also been the home of famous American actors and comedians. One of the most well-known early television stars, Dick Van Dyke, was born in West Plains, Missouri. Best remembered for The Dick Van Dyke Show, Van Dyke appeared in many other television shows, and may be best remembered for his role as Bert the chimney-sweep in Mary Poppins.
20. John Goodman
Another funnyman hailing from Missouri is John Goodman. Best known for his role in Roseanne, Goodman was born in Affton, Missouri. He entered Missouri State University on a football scholarship, but tore his ACL before even playing one game. With football no longer an option, he turned his focus to the school’s drama program.
21. The Show Me State
Several theories exist for the origins of this unique nickname. The most popular one refers to U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served from 1897-1905, and his tenacious demand for action and proof instead of mere words from another Congressman. Missourians liked this story best of all, feeling that it was in step with their no-nonsense character.
👉 Read Next: What Are the States Known For?
FAQs About Famous Missouri Things
Is Missouri part of the South?
Despite bearing many similarities to the southern states, Missouri is not considered to be one of the states that make up the South.
Is Missouri part of the Bible Belt?
Missouri does not always find itself on the list of Bible Belt states; it depends on whom you ask. The following article provides a comprehensive list of what states make up the Bible Belt.
Now you don’t have to what “what is Missouri known for” anymore!
These are some of the many things Missouri is famous for. As you can see, the Show Me State has a lot to show for itself!