Caruthersville, the county seat of Pemiscot County, lies deep in Missouri's bootheel on the Mississippi River. The word "Pemiscot" comes from a Native American word meaning "liquid mud". Native Americans inhabited the land around Caruthersville before European settlers came; 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.
Since incorporation, Caruthersville's administration and citizenry have made a determined effort to make the city a progressive community, while enhancing the quality of life for everyone.