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Missouri River

The Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, and the longest river in the United States. The Missouri begins at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin rivers in Montana, and flows through its valley south and east into the Mississippi north of St. Louis, Missouri.

What do you know about the Missouri River? Explore the Quick US Geography Rivers and Streams Quiz.  "Check Your Answers" at the end of the page.

Trivia powered by Prof. Walter1. Starts in Montana at the junction of the Jefferson River and the Madison River, near the mouth of the Gallatin River in Gallatin County, Montana. What is the elevation?

  • 4,042 feet
  • 4,142 feet
  • 4,242 feet

2. The river is nicknamed "Big Muddy" and also "Dark River" because of the high silt content. The river meanders from bluff to bluff in the flat Midwestern states, leading to the nickname the "Wide Missouri".

  • True or False?

3. The Missouri River drains about one-sixth of the North American continent. What is the river's length?

  • 2,540 miles
  • 2,640 miles
  • 2,740 miles

4. The state is named after the Missouri River which in turn is named after the Siouan Indian tribe whose Illinois name, ouemessourita (wimihsoorita), means "those who have dugout canoes".

  • True or False?

5. The first Europeans to see the river were the French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette who shortly after looking at the Piasa petroglyph painting on the bluffs of Mississippi River above , Illinois heard the Missouri rushing into the Mississippi. What is the current Illinois town near the site?

  • Moulton
  • Alton
  • Adams

6. The Missouri remained formally unexplored and uncharted until �tienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont wrote "Exact Description of Louisiana, of Its Harbors, Lands and Rivers, and Names of the Indian Tribes That Occupy It, and the Commerce and Advantages to Be Derived Therefrom for the Establishment of a Colony" in 1713 followed in 1714 by "The Route to Be Taken to Ascend the Missouri River."  In the two documents Bourgmont was the first to use the name "Missouri" to refer to the river (and he was to name many of the tributaries along the river based on the American Indian tribes that lived on them). The names and locations were to be used by a cartographer to create the first reasonably accurate map of the river. Who was the cartographer?

  • Antoine Laumet de La Mothe
  • Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne
  • Guillaume Delisle

7. Thomas Jefferson, fearing the cutoffs could occur again, sought to negotiate with France to buy New Orleans for the asking price of $10 million. Napoleon countered with an offer of $15 million for all of the Louisiana Territory including the Missouri River. The deal was signed on May 2, 1803. On June 20, 1803, who did Thomas Jefferson instructed to explore the Missouri and look for a water route to the Pacific?

  • Morgan P. Morgan
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Robert Louis Stevens

8. The Hannibal Bridge was the first bridge to cross the river when it opened in 1869. Where was it built?

  • Kansas City
  • Dodge City
  • Yankton

9. Who wrote popular Western novel The Big Sky (1947) tells the story of a group of men who, in the early 19th century, made the long journey up the Missouri from St. Louis to Montana?

  • Zane Grey
  • Howard Hawks
  • A. B. Guthrie, Jr.

10. The mouth of the Missouri River is near St. Louis, in St. Charles County, Missouri, where the river flows into the Mississippi River. What is the elevation?

  • 404 feet
  • 504 feet
  • 604 feet


Missouri River Answers

  1. 4,042 feet
  2. True
  3. 2,540 miles
  4. True
  5. Alton
  6. Guillaume Delisle
  7. Meriwether Lewis
  8. Kansas City
  9. A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
  10. 404 feet

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