Why Is Missouri Called The ‘Show Me’ State? Here’s Why 

The State of Missouri is a Midwestern state in the US with its capital as Jefferson City. 

More than six million people live in Missouri. Many of them reside in large urban cities like Springfield, St. Louis, Colombia, and Kansas City.

Missouri has two great rivers – the Mississippi River and the Missouri River.

The Mississippi River lies on the state’s eastern border. The Missouri River runs across the state.

Missouri has a lot of nicknames. One of them is the Show-Me State.

So, why is Missouri called the Show-Me State?

Why is Missouri called the Show-Me State?

The phrase ‘show me’ was a popular colloquial expression used to refer to Missourians in the late 1890s.

The nickname has evolved into a culture. It has now become associated with Missourian qualities of courage, stubbornness, and rationality.

Regardless of origin, the name has come to stay. It is even used on Missouri license plates.

Where did this name originate? Keep reading for more!

Origins Of The Missouri ‘Show Me’ Nickname

Several legends abound about how the ‘Show-me’ nickname originated.

One story spoke of Missourian miners in Colorado. In those days, many Missourians worked as miners in the mining district of Leadville. These Missourians could not quickly grasp the mining ways of the Coloradans.

Consequently, they needed continuous instructions from the pit bosses on every single process.

“Show him” was used as a reference to Missourian miners.

“That man is from Missouri. You’ll have to show him.”

According to another story, Missouri legislators were all given free train passes in 1897.

When the conductors discovered that the passes were free, they would always say, “You’ve got to show me.”

Another story involved Missouri soldiers during the Spanish-American war in 1898. Some soldiers were stationed at Chickamauga, Tennessee.

The guards at the gate were from St. Louis, Missouri. Before anyone could exit the gate, the guards would always say, “show me your pass.”

Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver once made a popular reference to this nickname. 

In response to a comment during a press speech at the Philadelphia’s Five O’clock Club, Vandiver was quoted as saying,

“I am from a state where corn and cockleburs and cotton are produced, and with many Democrats, so frothy eloquence does not satisfy or convince me.

I am a Missourian. You’ve got to show me.”

Missouri has several other nicknames. What are they?

Other Nicknames Of Missouri

Apart from ‘Show Me State, Missouri has other nicknames for various reasons.

#1. The Cave State

The State of Missouri is also known as the Cave State. There are about 5,600 caves scattered across Missouri. Interestingly, more cave discoveries occur every year.

A few of these caves are open to the public for tourist purposes. With a tour guide, you can access these public caves.

#2. The Lead State

Missouri is one of the top lead producers in the United States. 

Missouri’s status as a top lead producer is reflected in the names of some of its cities. Examples include Old Mines, Leadwood, Leadington, and River Mines.

Missouri’s ‘Old Lead Belt’ is regarded as a premier lead mining region in the world. It is located in the eastern Ozark mountain.

Missouri is blessed with an abundance of Galena, a source of lead ore.

#3. The Bullion State

The origin of this name is traced to one of Missouri’s longest-serving senators, Thomas Hart Benton.

Benton served in the US Senate for 30 years, from 1821 to 1851.

While serving, he vehemently opposed paper money, banks, monopolies, and the then eastern capitalists. He advocated for hard currencies – gold and silver.

Benton consequently earned the nickname ‘Old Bullion.’ Sometimes, people refer to Missouri as the ‘Bullion State’ because of Thomas Hart Benton.

#4. The Ozark State

Missouri is also called the Ozark State because of the outstanding presence of the Ozark Mountains.

The Ozark Mountains cover a massive chunk of northern Arkansas and half of southern Missouri.

#5. Mother of the West

Missouri was also referred to as Mother of the West or Gateway to the West. This name emerged based on Missouri’s status as the door to the expansion of the westward axis.

You find the beginning trails of Oregon and Santa Fe from Missouri.

The Pony Express and the Butterfield Overland Mail Route all have their origins in Missouri.

The 630-foot Gateway Arch in St. Louis stands tall as a tribute to the contribution of Missouri in the expansion of the west.

#6. Iron Mountain State

There lies in Missouri an Iron Mountain. This mountain is named Iron Mountain because it produces substantial quantities of iron ore.

#7. The Puke State

This unpleasant name was first associated with Missouri in 1827. There was an event at the Galena mines. A large number of Missourians were present. 

Some authors have written about this event. Author George EarlieShankle remarked in one of his books, commented that,

“…a lot of Missourians had gathered, and those already there stated that Missouri had gotten a ‘puke.’”

#8. Pennsylvania of the West

Missouri and Pennsylvania have similar mining and manufacturing economies. As a result, Missouri was therefore named as Pennsylvania of the West.

Missouri’s numerous names are not the only exciting thing about the State.

Continue reading to learn more about Missouri.

More On Missouri

Missouri is a very fertile state, with hills and grasslands.

Missouri’s waterways are a beehive of commercial activities. Ships, barges, and steamboats transport people and goods from one State to another. 

Railroads are another means of transportation of goods in Missouri while airlines keep passengers and cargo moving.

Missouri is regarded as a top agricultural supplier. However, other sectors such as tourism, healthcare, and education have also developed.

The State got its name from the Missouri Rivers. It was initially known as the Missouri borders before it became the State of Missouri.

Missouri means ‘canoe haver.’

Tourist Attractions In Missouri

If you want to visit the beautiful State of Missouri, here are some great tourist attractions.

#1. The St. Louis Gateway Arch

The St. Louis Gateway Arch, or the Gateway to the West, is an outstanding State feature.

It is a 630 feet arc located at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park. It is visible even from far distances across the State.

The best way to view this masterpiece is by using its elevators, helicopter tours, or riverboat cruises.

#2. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

This museum is one place that lovers of art go to feed their eyes. At its entrance is a sculpture garden that fills the eyes even before entering the museum.

This museum collects art from all over the world.

Entry is always free. It also has some packages for the community, such as free fun- weekends for families.

There is a live music show every third Thursday of the month. The museum also offers a wide variety of art classes for all ages.

#3. Rides at the Silver Dollar City

This place epitomizes the 1880s Ozark culture. The park showcases artisans and their works, such as glassblowing, pottery, candy making, etc.

The park also has rides, attractions, live shows, and restaurants.

The Marvel Cave is also located in this park. It preserves the tradition of the 1880s mining towns that once lived at the entrance of the cave.

#4. St. Louis Zoo

This zoo has over 12,000 animals located in 6 different divisions.

These divisions are River’s Edge, The Wild, Discovery Corner, Historic Hill, Red Rocks, and Lakeside Crossing.

Each division holds animals peculiar to its location. Guess what? Admission is free!

#5. Springfield

Springfield is a beautiful city with the feel of a small town. It is home to all kinds of parks and green spaces. 

Springfield has several attractions. These include the Nathanael Green/ Close Memorial Park, the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum, and Aquarium.

You will also find the Fantastic Caverns close to the city.

#6. Jefferson City

Jefferson City is the capital of the State of Missouri.

It houses some of the finest arts in its galleries and museums. Its historic, state-of-the-art government buildings are architectural wonders.

Some other grandeur sites are the State Capitol building, the Missouri State Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Missouri State Penitentiary.


The State of Missouri is a Midwestern industrial state in the US.

Missouri has a lot of nicknames. One of them is the Show-Me State.

The phrase ‘show me’ was a popular colloquial expression used to refer to Missourians in the late 1890s.

The name now has cultural significance for Missourians.

It is now associated with Missourian qualities of courage, stubbornness, and rationality. It is even used on Missouri license plates.

Missouri is also associated with other names such as the Cave State, the Lead State, the Ozark State, and the Mother of the West.

The names are derived from various aspects of Missouri’s history, geography, economy, and politics.

Missouri has several tourist attractions. Examples include the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the St. Louis Zoo.

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