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.
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. .
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.
In November 2006, The Caruthersville City School District put a bond issue on the ballot to build a new high school, which was 85 cents per $100 assessed. This issue was defeated by a vote of 827 to 631. It is unclear what steps the district will take next. The high school students are expected to hold classes in the trailers for several years.
There were 2,643 households out of which 35.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 21.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the city the population was spread out with 32.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 86.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $19,601, and the median income for a family was $23,454. Males had a median income of $25,821 versus $17,434 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,034. About 28.1% of families and 35.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 50.3% of those under age 18 and 23.4% of those age 65 or over.