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What Surprising Inventions Originated in Missouri?

Discover Missouri's Hidden Gems: Uncovering the Surprising Inventions that Originated in the Heartland


Things Invented in Missouri

The Ice Cream Cone

The ice cream cone is one of the most beloved desserts in the world. Its origin, however, may surprise you. In 1904, during the World's Fair in St. Louis, an ice cream vendor ran out of paper cups. He turned to a nearby waffle vendor for help, and together they came up with the idea of using rolled-up waffles as edible cups for ice cream.

This accidental creation quickly became popular, and the ice cream cone was born. The original cones were rolled by hand, but soon, specialized machines were invented to produce them on a large scale. Today, ice cream cones are enjoyed worldwide and are available in various shapes and sizes.

The Paddle Wheel Boat

The invention of the paddle wheel boat in Missouri revolutionized transportation on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. In 1817, the first paddle wheel boat, named the "Zebulon M. Pike," was built and launched in Missouri. This boat had two large paddle wheels on each side, which were powered by steam engines.

The paddle wheel boat made it possible to navigate shallow waters and upstream rivers. This innovation was a game-changer for commerce and trade, allowing goods to be transported faster and more efficiently. It also made travel more comfortable for passengers, who could now travel in style and luxury.

The Bulletproof Vest

Richard Davis, a pizza delivery man from Missouri, is credited with inventing the modern bulletproof vest in 1971. The vest was made of Kevlar, a lightweight and strong material that could withstand bullets.

Davis had experienced a close call when he was shot at while making a pizza delivery. This incident inspired him to create a vest that could protect people in high-risk professions, such as police officers and soldiers. His invention was a significant improvement over the previous designs, which were much heavier and uncomfortable to wear.

The bulletproof vest has since become an essential piece of equipment for law enforcement agencies around the world. It has saved countless lives and is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people of Missouri.

Famous Missouri Inventors

Missouri has been home to many notable inventors throughout history. Here are just a few of the most famous inventors that you might not have realized were from Missouri.

Philo Farnsworth

Philo Farnsworth, born in Beaver, Utah, moved to Missouri where he invented the first electronic television in 1927. Farnsworth was only 14 years old when he first conceived of the idea of an electronic television, and it was during his time in Missouri that he was able to fully develop his invention. Farnsworth's invention went on to revolutionize the entertainment industry and paved the way for the countless television shows, movies, and other media that we enjoy today.

Susan Elizabeth Blow

Susan Elizabeth Blow is known for founding the first public kindergarten in America in 1873 in St. Louis, Missouri. She also developed her own teaching materials and methods, which emphasized play and hands-on learning over rote memorization. Blow's ideas were revolutionary for their time, and they helped to shape the way that we think about early childhood education to this day.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, an African-American botanist and inventor born in Missouri, is perhaps best known for his work with the peanut. Carver developed over 300 uses for the peanut, including peanut butter, shampoo, and printing ink. His work had a profound impact on agriculture and industry, and it helped to create a new market for the previously underappreciated legume.

These inventors represent just a fraction of the many talented individuals who have called Missouri home throughout history. From groundbreaking technological innovations to revolutionary educational practices, Missouri has been at the forefront of many important developments that have shaped our world.

Missouri Contributions to the Transportation Industry

Missouri has made significant contributions to the transportation industry throughout history. It has been home to inventions and innovations that have changed the way people and goods move. Missouri can take pride in being a leader in the transportation industry and has helped improve transportation for everyone. Three of the most significant Missouri contributions to the transportation industry are the Pony Express, the Gateway Arch, and the Kansas City Southern Railway.

The Pony Express

The Pony Express was a mail delivery service that ran from Missouri to California and operated for only 19 months, from April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861. However, it was a significant contribution to the transportation industry. Before the Pony Express, mail delivery from the East Coast to the West Coast took several weeks or even months. The Pony Express changed that by delivering mail in just ten days. Missouri played a crucial role in the Pony Express, as it was where the service started.

The Pony Express employed many riders who would ride their horses for stretches of 10-15 miles, changing horses frequently at relay stations. The riders were required to be young, lightweight, and excellent horsemen to cover long distances quickly while carrying a heavy mailbag. The Pony Express was instrumental in helping the development and settlement of the West.

The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is a prominent monument known all over the world, and it honors the westward expansion of the United States. The Gateway Arch is an iconic symbol of America's frontier history. The Gateway Arch stands at 630 feet tall and was completed in 1965. The arch is the world's tallest arch and currently stands as America's tallest manmade monument.

The Gateway Arch is designed as an enormous arch curved both ways in a weighted catenary curve and situated along the west bank of the Mississippi River. There is an observation deck at the top that provides an excellent view of the city. There is also an underground bunker named "The Museum of the Westward Expansion" that tells the story of the expansionist period in America's history.

The Kansas City Southern Railway

The Kansas City Southern Railway, which was founded in Missouri in 1887, is the smallest of the Class I railroads in North America, but it has a significant impact on the transportation industry in the southern United States. The Kansas City Southern Railway has a total of 7,282 miles of tracks and operates in ten states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Colorado, and Nebraska.

The Kansas City Southern Railway offers transportation services for a wide range of products, including agriculture, automotive, chemicals, energy, forest products, intermodal, and industrial materials. The company has gained a reputation for being a green transportation provider that is environmentally friendly. The company has upgraded its locomotives with emissions- reducing technology, and this helps the company to reduce its carbon footprint.

In conclusion, these three Missouri contributions to the transportation industry represent the state's lasting impact. The Pony Express, the Gateway Arch, and the Kansas City Southern Railway showcase Missouri's leadership role in the transportation industry's development. Missouri has long been a vital center of transportation innovation and excellence, and it will continue to play an important role in shaping the future of transportation.

Missouri's Impact on Agriculture

Missouri has a rich history of agricultural innovation, and many of its inventions have helped to revolutionize the farming industry. Here are some of the ways in which Missouri has made an impact on agriculture:

Cattle Drives

Cattle drives were an essential part of the meatpacking industry in Missouri during the late 1800s. These drives involved herding cattle from Kansas to Missouri, where they could be processed and sold. Missouri's central location made it an ideal hub for this industry, and the state's economy benefited greatly from it.

The process of cattle drives was grueling, and it required skilled cowboys to control the animals during their journey. Many cowboys found work in Missouri, and they became an essential part of the state's culture. Today, Missouri is still home to many cattle farms, and the state continues to play a significant role in the meatpacking industry.

Hybrid Corn

Dr. William James Beal, a scientist at the University of Missouri, developed hybrid corn in the late 1800s. This innovation revolutionized the farming industry and improved crop yields significantly. Hybrid corn is created by crossbreeding different varieties of corn, which results in plants that are more resistant to disease and weather conditions.

Beal's work with hybrid corn had a profound impact on agriculture, and it allowed farmers to grow more substantial, healthier crops. Today, hybrid corn is a standard crop in many parts of the world, and it continues to be an essential part of Missouri's farming industry.

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859 and is one of the most prominent botanical gardens in the United States. It occupies 79 acres in St. Louis and is home to a diverse collection of plants and trees from around the world.

The Missouri Botanical Garden has contributed to many advancements in horticulture and plant science. Its scientists have studied plant genetics, disease resistance, and other important topics that have helped to improve crop yields and protect plant species from extinction.

The garden's importance extends beyond Missouri's borders; it is recognized as a leader in plant research and conservation worldwide. Scientists and students from around the world come to study at the garden, and its impact on agriculture is immeasurable.


Missouri's contributions to agriculture have been significant, and they have helped to improve crop yields and feed people around the world. From cattle drives to hybrid corn to the Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri's impact on agriculture is undeniable.

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