Cape Girardeau County is located in southeast Missouri, along the Mississippi River, approximately 100 miles south of St. Louis, MO, where Interstate 55 runs north and south through the county. The county is 579 square miles and the population is 73,957, according to a 2009 Census estimate.
While the largest city in the county is Cape Girardeau, the county seat is actually Jackson, which was the first city named in honor of President Andrew Jackson.
John Davis constructed the first County Courthouse in 1818. This courthouse burned in 1870. The present courthouse in Jackson was completed in 1908 and was designed by P.H. Weathers.
Cape Girardeau County was organized on October 1, 1812, as one of five original counties of Missouri. It was named after Ensign Sieur Jean Baptiste de Girardot (also spelled Girardeau or Girardat), a French officer originally stationed at Kaskaskia, Illinois from 1704-1720. He later developed a trading post on the site of the present-day city of Cape Girardeau around 1733. The "Cape" in the county name was for a large rock prominently overlooking the Mississippi River.
A regional airport, two large medical centers, and Southeast Missouri State University are just a few places located in our county, along with the brand new "Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr" United States Federal Courthouse, located in Cape Girardeau. The new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge connects the county with the state of Illinois.
During the Civil War, Union forces occupied the city of Cape Girardeau, where four forts were built, of which Fort D (1861) is notable. Cape Girardeau is known as "The City of Roses."
Trail of Tears State Park is a 3,415-acre park, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, which was established as a memorial to the Cherokee Indians that lost their lives in a forced relocation. Nine of the thirteen groups of Cherokee Indians crossed the Mississippi River in the harsh winter conditions of 1838-39. Thousands lost their lives on the trail, including dozens on the park's grounds. History states that Nancy Bushyhead Hildebrand died and was buried within the park's boundaries. Therefore, Bushyhead Memorial was established as a tribute to all the Cherokee who died on the trail. The visitor center features exhibits that interpret the forced relocation, as well as the park's many natural features.
If you are intrigued by the mystique and lore of simpler times, then relive the days of yesteryear by a visit to Bollinger Mill State Historic Site. The 19th-century mill and its neighboring covered bridge offer a glimpse of a now-rare Americana. The present mill, dating to the Civil War period, is a massive four-story stone and brick building where visitors can still observe corn being ground into meal by water power - just as it was done long ago. The succession of three mills that have stood on this site represent more than 200 years of milling history. The Burfordville Covered Bridge standing alongside stretches 140-foot across the Whitewater River, which powers the mill. Built in 1858, it is the oldest of only four remaining covered bridges in Missouri.