15 Things You Might Not Know About Missouri

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1. Eight different states border Missouri. Name them correctly without a map to win ... our undying respect.

2. Missouri was named after a tribe of Sioux Indians called the Missouris. While often mistranslated as “muddy water,” the word actually means “town of the large canoes.”

3. To appeal to as many voters as possible, politicians sometimes pronounce "Missouri" two different ways—Missouree and Missouruh—in the same speech. At one time, pronunciation correlated with geography, with the -uh sound being more prevalent in rural areas. Now it's more of a generational difference.

4. Maybe we should call it the Read Me State. Famous Missourian writers include T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, and Sara Teasdale.

5. With more than 6,000 known caves, Missouri's also known as The Cave State.

6. Richland, Missouri, is the only city in the U.S. with a cave restaurant. (Don't worry: There aren't any bats.)

7. Harry Truman was the only U.S. President to hail from Missouri. After he left the White House in 1953, he and his wife Bess moved back to the Independence home they shared with his mother-in-law and lived off his $112.56 monthly Army pension.

8. The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis introduced the masses to a number of new treats, including the waffle cone, cotton candy, iced tea, and Dr Pepper.

9. St. Louis hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics—the first Olympic Games ever held in the U.S.—at the same time as the World's Fair. It was complete chaos. Athletes competed for four and a half months with one event each day of the fair. But only 42 of the 91 events actually included competitors from other countries. The craziest part, though, was the marathon: Almost half of the runners got heat stroke, and the first-place winner cheated by hitching a car ride from mile nine to mile 19.

10. Another event that year: climbing a greased pole.

11. Missouri is one of 12 states with its own official horse. The Missouri Fox Trotter is a mid-sized muscular breed from the Ozarks that's popular on ranches.

12. Earthquakes aren't just for California. Four of the largest in North American history—up to a moment magnitude of 8.0—occurred from December 1811 to February 1812 in New Madrid, Missouri.

13. Missouri is also home to the most destructive tornado in U.S. history. The Tri-State tornado, which set down on March 18, 1925, killed 695 people, injured 2027 people, and demolished an estimated 15,000 homes throughout Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Annapolis, Missouri, was 90 percent destroyed.

14. The first successful parachute jump from a moving plane was made above the Jefferson Barracks military post, near St. Louis, on March 1, 1912. U.S. Army Captain Albert Berry climbed to 1,500 feet in a Benoist aircraft before positioning himself on a trapeze bar attached to the front of the plane, his parachute stored in a conical pack attached to his harness, and jumped. Air & Space magazine reports Berry saying, upon landing, “Never again! I believe I turned five somersaults on my way down … My course downward … was like a crazy arrow.” Berry completed his second jump on March 10.

15. Aunt Jemima pancake flour was invented in St. Louis in 1889. It was the first ready-mix food to ever be sold commercially. Take that, Betty Crocker.

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October 5, 2014 - 11:12pm
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