The Missouri State Penitentiary, located in Jefferson City, was once the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River. It opened in 1836 and closed in 2004.
Polk County, Missouri, has a rich history that spans back to the early 19th century. The area was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Osage and Delaware. European settlers began to arrive in the early 1800s, primarily from Tennessee and Kentucky, seeking new opportunities and land for farming.

The county was officially established in 1835 and named after James K. Polk, who would become the 11th President of the United States. In its early years, Polk County saw steady growth as more settlers arrived, and small communities and towns started to develop. The construction of the Osage Valley and Southern Kansas Railroad in the 1870s further boosted the county's economy and population.

During the Civil War, Polk County became a battleground for Union and Confederate forces. The Battle of Lindley's Mill, fought in 1861, was one of the significant clashes that occurred in the area. As with many counties in Missouri, Polk County experienced the hardships and divisions that came with the war, including guerrilla warfare and skirmishes.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Polk County continued to grow and prosper. Agriculture, particularly the production of fruits and vegetables, became a crucial part of the local economy. The county also benefited from the expansion of transportation infrastructure, such as the construction of highways and improved access to railroads. Today, Polk County retains its agricultural heritage while also embracing modern industry and tourism, making it a diverse and vibrant part of Missouri's history.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Polk County, Missouri.

  • 1835 - Polk County is established in the state of Missouri.
  • 1837 - The county seat is established in the town of Bolivar.
  • 1861-1865 - Polk County supports the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.
  • 1870 - The railroad reaches Bolivar, enhancing the county's transportation and economic development.
  • 1881 - Southwest Baptist University is established in Bolivar, providing higher education opportunities.
  • 1961 - Pomme de Terre Lake is completed, becoming a popular recreational spot in Polk County.
  • 2011 - Polk County celebrates its bicentennial.