Tarkio, Missouri

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Tarkio is a city in Tarkio Township, Atchison County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,935 at the 2000 census [1][3]. It was platted in 1880 and incorporated in 1881. The name "Tarkio" is from a Native American word meaning "place where walnuts grow".[4] Historically, the economy of the city was based on agriculture and its status as a college town[citation needed].



Tarkio was founded in 1880, and grew rapidly. The Tarkio Avalanche newspaper was founded in 1884[citation needed]. By 1900, the U.S. Census shows 2,845 persons living in Tarkio[1]. According to the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census, the number of residents held fairly steady for the next 30 years[1].

One of the community's most famous landmarks was the Tarkio Mule Barn, an octagonal brick structure built in the early 1890s. It was converted to the Tarkio Mule Barn Theatre which was used by Tarkio College. It was on the National Register of Historic Places, but the building was destroyed in a 1989 fire.[5]


Tarkio was home to Tarkio College, a private Presbyterian college founded in 1883. The college closed in 1991.[4].

Notable residents

One of Tarkio College's alumni was scientist Wallace Hume Carothers (1896–1937). He obtained his four year degree at the college, went on to teach at Harvard University, and is considered the "father of man-made polymers." He is responsible for the discovery of nylon and neoprene[6].

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