Caruthersville, Missouri

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Caruthersville is the most populous city and county seat of Pemiscot County, located along the Mississippi River in the bootheel of southeastern Missouri in the United States. The population was 6,760 at the 2000 census.



Caruthersville lies deep in Missouri's bootheel on the Mississippi River. The word "Pemiscot" comes from an Indian word meaning "liquid mud". This is not inappropriate, since Mississippi waters have frequently flooded the flatlands. While those waters have brought disaster to Caruthersville homes, they have also attracted people to the region because of the fertile alluvial land they have helped to create.

Native Americans inhabited the land around Caruthersville before European settlement, they were part of the civilization that built huge earth mounds throughout the Mississippi Valley. One such land mass remains, rising 270 feet above sea level about four miles southwest of Caruthersville. It stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding delta-like plain.

John Hardeman Walker and George W. Bushey laid out the town of Caruthersville in 1857. The town was named to honor Sam Caruthers, who first represented the area in Congress. The City of Caruthersville was incorporated on May 18, 1874.

In 1893, Missouri's General Assembly created the Saint Francis Levee District to alleviate that part of the Saint Francis basin lying within the counties of Dunklin, New Madrid, and Pemiscot. This act authorized taxes for the purpose of building, repairing, protecting, and maintaining levees in the district.

Sterling Price Reynolds (1861–1968), a highly regarded citizen of Caruthersville, devoted his working life to draining the swamps in the Saint Francis Levee District and protecting the city from flooding. He created the Little River Drainage District which helped turn the bog laden area into rich cotton producing soil. Eventually, Reynolds became Chief Engineer for the Saint Francis Levee, a position he held until his retirement at age 101. Caruthersville paid tribute to him at that time by dedicating a park in his honor.

In February, 1969, construction began on a bridge across the Mississippi at Caruthersville. Completed in 1976, it is the only bridge to cross the Mississippi River between Cairo, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee. .[3]

During the night of Sunday, April 2, 2006, 60% of Caruthersville was severely damaged or destroyed by a string of tornadoes that passed through the Midwestern United States. At least one person was confirmed killed in Pemiscot County as a result of the tornado. On Monday morning, local police and state troopers had barred entrance into Caruthersville to anyone who was not a resident, an emergency worker, or a member of the newsmedia. According to the emergency management director from a nearby county, as many as 1,500 people were displaced by the storm, which struck the southwest side of the city. As reported by Caruthersville's mayor, Diane Sayre, there were no confirmed fatalities within city limits, but electricity and water services were disabled. Several churches, landmarks, and schools were destroyed or severely damaged, including St. John's Episcopal, Jesus Name Tabernacle, Faith Missionary Baptist, Caruthersville Municipal Airport, Caruthersville Cotton Warehouse, the Boy's and Girl's Club of the Bootheel, Knox's Drive In, the Kwik Chek, Caruthersville High School, and Caruthersville Middle School. There were no deaths in Caruthersville.

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