The Show-Me state is celebrating a Bicentennial. On August 10th, 1821, Missouri became the 24th state in the union and first west of the Mississippi.
One of our wildest tales happened a little over 50 years into statehood.
While settlers were expanding west, swarms of small flying grasshoppers were moving east from Colorado in search of food. The Grasshopper Plague hit western Missouri in 1875, as trillions of "Denver locusts" hatched and devoured crops, leather, wood, wool, and even “the clothes off your back” according to witnesses who described clouds of them descending like snow. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of them blocking out the sun.
Settlers rushed to cover water wells, and tried their best to beat back an invasion greatly outnumbering people and stunning the Kansas City economy. Some starved, others moved away, some sold bison horns for income, and others joined the birds and ate them. Noted for their nutty flavor, they were added to soups and stews. By the 20th century the "Denver locusts" had become extinct.
Discover more about the plague, conservation and other historical events in Missouriwith the Bicentennial Timeline.
Become a Missouri Explorer and sign up for challenges around the state to earn badges atthe Missouri 2021 Bicentennial website. Share your photos at #MOExplorers!
Name that State Symbol!
Celebrate Missouri’s Bicentennial with trivia. Quiz your friends on our state symbols.
- Known much by its color, Missouri’s state bird is also considered a symbol for happiness.
- Missouri’s state fish uses its cat-like whiskers to find its food.
- Missouri’s state tree is small in size and rarely grows over 40 feet in height.
- Most Missourians are familiar with our state reptile. As its name implies, the state reptile has three hind toes!
- Missouri’s state insect collects nectar and pollen from flower blossoms in order to produce honey.
Discover more about Missouri's indigenous wildlife in our Nature Boost Bicentennial podcast.
MO State Symbol Answers:
1. Eastern Bluebird; 2. Channel Catfish; 3. Flowering Dogwood; 4. Three-toed Turtle; 5. Honeybee.