Eight different states border this state, sharing the title for the most with Tennessee. Missouri also has over 6,000 caves, the second most in America, with, predictably, Tennessee at number one. This state is also where Tennessee Williams is buried. It’s also where J.C. Penney, Jon Hamm, President Harry Truman, Samuel ‘Mark Twain’ Clemens, Thomas Eliot and Walter Cronkite were born. Where the 1904 Olympics were held, the first games to be held in America. One of 22 states with ‘square dancing’ as the official state dance, out of 28 states with an official state dance. It also has the fiddle as the official state instrument, one of eight states to have a state instrument and one of four to have the fiddle. And it’s the home of the Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest arch and the tallest monument in the western hemisphere. Today, we’re in the Show-Me State, Missouri.
Missouri is a doubly landlocked state located in mid-western America, bordered by Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and their old chum, Tennessee. It is the 21st largest state at nearly 70,000 square miles, with the 18th largest population with just over six million people. The red and white stripes on the flag represent valour and purity, respectively. The blue represents the permanency, vigilance and justice of the state. The three colours also symbolise the French influence on the state, as it was once part of New France. The motto of the state is ‘Salus Populi Supreme Lex Esto’, which is Latin for, in this case, ‘Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.’
The state was named after the Missouri River, which was named after the indigenous Missouri tribe. They were named the ‘ouemessourita’ by the Miami-Illinois language speakers, and means, ‘those who have dugout canoes’. Maybe it should be nicknamed ’the Canoe State’…
Missouri has a rich heritage of film, literature and music. It also has a huge mix of cultures because of its traditional role as a gateway for migrants. Missourians are, generally, adventuresome, friendly, kind, open, polite and welcoming conversationalists, who love their food, music, outdoor activities and sports.
It’s a state of diverse wildlife feeding on the abundance of water. A fruitful landscape of mountains, national parks, plains, plateaus and rolling hills. A unique place popular with travellers. And it’s easy to see why.
There are sights to see such as Union Station in St. Louis, like some fairytale castle mixed with a unique raimentless gorgeousness. Elsewhere in the city, you have the famous Gateway Arch, a truly breathtaking icon, rising 630 feet into the air. An unearthly jewel of supreme elegance and splendour. And then there’s Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, like something from some ancient ethereal fairytale. The rich green tapestry nestled among rocks and stunning blue water features is almost alien, cocooning you inside a mesmeric dream.
But I think the best sight of the state is the sumptuous Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, a prelapsarian paradise of the utmost beauty and grace. A truly enchanting landscape that opened in 1859, one that covers a staggering 80 acres. It really is one of the greatest botanical gardens on the planet, exquisitely finished with expert detail and artistry. An isangelous monument to a wonderful human achievement.
Missouri. The state of culture, square dancing and canoes.
Images: 1) The flag of Missouri (credit: wikipedia.org), 2) Missouri Botanical Garden (credit: missouribotanicalgarden.org), 3) Missouri Botanical Garden (credit: bgpiperphotography.com)
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