Missouri's Northern Plains have also been known as the Glaciated Till Plains. This region contains rounded hills and broad shallow valleys. These were created when glaciers pushed through the area many years ago.
The Glaciers didn't just change the landscape. They created fertile soil that settlers discovered was good for growing crops. Today there are many farms that grow corn, wheat, soybeans, tobacco and other fruits and vegetables. This land is also good for livestock. Many ranchers make a living breeding and selling various types of livestock.
The northern plains do not contain an abundance of minerals but there are some deposits of coal, clay and limestone.
The Ozark Highlands is the largest region in the state of Missouri. This forested, hilly region was hard for settlers to travel through. The land is rocky and the soil is thin making it hard to grow crops.
Today, some farmers have made a living growing fruits and vegetables and some raise cattle, chickens and hogs but the main industries in this area involve timber and mining. The Ozark Highlands have an abundance of lead and the area was inhabited by people who worked in the mines. Other minerals mined from the Ozark Highlands are iron, sand, limestone and gravel. Timber workers came to this forested area and began cutting trees to make lumber, furniture and charcoal. Missouri is the leading producer in the United States of the Black Walnut and this is the region of the state where they are harvested. Tourism is yet another way residents of the Ozark Highlands earn their living. They Ozarks are famous for their beauty and tourists come every year to visit.
Jefferson City the capitol of Missouri is found in the Ozark Highlands. Springfield and Joplin are two of the biggest cities in this region. Taum Sauk Mountain is also found here. This is the highest point in Missouri and rises 1,772 feet into the sky. Springs are readily available in the Ozark Highlands and the largest spring in the U.S. is Big Spring located near the town of Van Buren. The rivers and springs that run through the Highlands make it a natural place to find caves.
The Southeast Lowlands region is found in the "bootheel" of Missouri. Many rivers run through this region. The land is flat and water cannot run off easily. This caused the Southeast Lowland to become swampland for many years. Settlers began building canals to help the water drain off and allow for farming of the rich soil. Currently cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice are grown here. Farmers also raise livestock.
The Western Plains
The western plains have gently rolling lands with a few low hills here and there. It is located on the western border of Missouri.
Farmers grow grain and raise cattle. At one point coal was the most important mineral for mining. However, when Missouri coal is burned it will cause air pollution due to the high sulfur content. Coal is not mined very much in this region any longer. Limestone, sand and gravel are found in the Western Plains.