Sunday 26 February 2012

The America Project - Missouri

Missouri (MO) size 69,704 sq.m population 6 million

Bordering states Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee (8)
State capital Jefferson City
Most populous city Kansas City
Other notable places St. Louis, Springfield, Joplin, Cape Giradeau, Columbia
Notable landmarks and natural features Gateway Arch, St. Louis; Goldenrod Showboat, Kampsville; Liberty Memorial, Kansas City
Statehood 10th August 1821 (24th)

Ten famous Missourians
Robert Altman (film director; born Kansas City, 1925-2006)
Maya Angelou (poet and writer; born St. Louis, 1928 -)
Burt Bacharach (composer and songwriter; born Kansas City, 1928 -)
Scott Bakula (actor; born St. Louis, 1954 -)
Chuck Berry (musician; born St. Louis, 1926 -)
Martha Jane Burke (aka Calamity Jane) (frontierswoman; born Princeton, 1852-1903)
Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) (writer and humourist; born Florida, 1835-1910)
Walter Kronkite (journalist and television presenter; born St. Joseph, 1916-2009)
Harry S. Truman (politician, 33rd President of the USA; born Lamar, 1884-1972)
Dick Van Dyke (actor; born West Plains, 1925 -)

Three important events

1. 1838 Mormon War (6th August  - 1st November 1838)
Religion can complicate matters. So when the Church of the Latter Day Saints was formed by Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830 and he announced that, after the impending Second Coming of Christ, the new Zion would be located near Independence, MO, there was bound to be trouble. Members of the Mormon church, believing it was their divinely-ordained destiny to inherit that area of land, became increasingly difficult to reason with - particularly if you happened to be one of that place's current inhabitants. Tensions rose, with Mormons moving into the area and being chased out by anti-Mormon groups, until a blanket expulsion of Mormons was ordered by the governor of Jackson in 1833. Oddly, this served to only inflame things further. Come State Legislature election day in August 1838, several candidates stood on an anti-Mormon footing and mobs were formed to prevent members of the church from voting. Scuffles soon escalated to an arduous 3 month cycle of pitched battles and massacres, until the State managed to regain control and the Mormon church agreed to vacate the disputed lands. 22 people - 21 of them members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints - were killed.

2. Hyatt Regency Walkway collapse (17th July 1981)
During the building of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency there had been some significant structural failures, but this did not dissuade anyone, least not the 1600 people who packed into the atrium to compete in and watch a tea dance contest in July 1981. With dozens of people stood on the suspended walkways, at about 7 p.m. the fourth floor walkway collapsed down onto the second floor, which then itself crashed into the lobby. 111 people were killed instantly and a further 216 hurt, three of whom later succumbed to their injuries. It was the single most catastrophic structural failure in terms of loss of life in the history of the United States up to that time.

3. 2011 Joplin tornado (22nd May 2011)
Missouri is in the United States' tornado alley, but the storm which hit on 22nd May 2011 was particularly savage. Rating at 5 (the highest number) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (over 200 mph, peaking at between 225 and 250 mph), the twister had multiple vorteces and at its height the funnel of the tornado was a mile wide. It struck at 5:34 p.m. in Joplin itself before crossing Interstate 44 into Jasper County and Newton County, dissipating at 6:12 p.m. In that 38 minute period, it killed 160 people and caused $2.8 billion worth of damage. The storm claimed a further victim during the clean up, as a police officer was struck by lightning. It was the third tornado to hit Joplin since 1971, but by far the strongest - the 2011 Joplin Tornado is the single costliest in US history.

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