Platte River (Iowa and Missouri)

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For the larger river of the same name in Nebraska, see Platte River. For other rivers of the same name, see Platte River (disambiguation).
Platte River
Platte River Missouri.jpg
The Platte River near Platte City, Missouri
Country US
State Iowa, Missouri
Districts Platte County, Missouri, Buchanan County, Missouri, Andrew County, Missouri, Nodaway County, Missouri, Worth County, Missouri, Taylor County, Iowa, Ringgold County, Iowa, Adams County, Iowa, Union County, Iowa
 - location Creston, Iowa, US
 - coordinates 41°08′57″N 94°23′00″W / 41.1492°N 94.3833°W / 41.1492; -94.3833
Mouth Missouri River
 - location Platte City, Missouri, US
 - elevation 755 ft (230 m)
 - coordinates 39°15′51″N 94°50′15″W / 39.2642°N 94.8375°W / 39.2642; -94.8375Coordinates: 39°15′51″N 94°50′15″W / 39.2642°N 94.8375°W / 39.2642; -94.8375
Mo rivers2.png
Map of northern Missouri rivers
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Platte River (Iowa and Missouri)
The Platte River near its confluence with the Missouri River at Farley, Missouri

The Platte River is a tributary of the Missouri River, about 200 miles (320 km) long,[1] in southwestern Iowa and northwestern Missouri in the United States. It is sometimes known as the Little Platte River to distinguish it from the larger Platte River, also a tributary of the Missouri, in nearby Nebraska; the Platte River of Missouri itself has a tributary known as the "Little Platte River".[2][3][4]


The Platte River rises near Creston in Union County, Iowa, and flows generally southwardly through Adams, Ringgold and Taylor Counties in Iowa; and Worth, Nodaway, Andrew, Buchanan and Platte Counties in Missouri. Along its course it passes the Iowa towns of Maloy, Blockton and Athelstan; and the Missouri towns of Sheridan, Parnell, Ravenwood, Conception Junction, Guilford, Tracy, Platte City and Farley. The Platte flows into the Missouri River near Farley, downstream of Leavenworth, Kansas.[5][6]

Several sections of the river's course have been straightened and channelized.[5][6]



Main article: Platte Purchase

When Missouri entered the union in 1821, the western border of Missouri from Arkansas to Iowa was based on the confluence of the Kansas River and Missouri River in the West Bottoms in Kansas City. Land in what is now the northwest Missouri was deeded to the Ioway, Sac and Fox tribes.

However, settlers (most notably Joseph Robidoux in St. Joseph, Missouri) began encroaching on the land. Further settlers in northern Missouri were upset about being cut off from the Missouri.

Excerpt from the Lewis and Clark map of 1814 shows the river identified as the "Little River Platte"

In 1836, William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) persuaded the tribes to sell their lands in northwest Missouri. The deal known as the Platte Purchase was named for the river was ratified in 1837 and the tribes were paid $7,500 for an area about the combined size of Delaware and Rhode Island. The land was then annexed to Missouri.

In 1838 settlers used the river (and the Nodaway River) to reach the heart of the newly available land. The Platte River is not used for transportation in modern times although Missouri River steam boats did call on Tracy, Missouri.

On September 3, 1861, bushwhackers burned a bridge over the river at St. Joseph, Missouri, derailing a Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad train killing between 17 and 20 and injuring 200 in one of the worst attacks on a passenger train in the Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy during the American Civil War. Union forces were to burn Platte City, Missouri in 1861 and 1864 as they tried to force the residents to give up Silas M. Gordon, the suspected ringleader of the attack.

The river is the biggest river in the Platte Purchase area and it flows through the Kansas City Metropolitan Area as well as St. Joseph, Missouri metropolitan area. The river is an eighth order river.

Average flow at mile 25.1 is 1,925 cubic feet second (54.5 m3/s). The highest flow was 37,800 ft3/s (1070 m3/s) during the Great Flood of 1993 on July 26, 1993. The lowest flow was 12 ft3/s (0.33 m/s) during a drought in August 1989.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 30, 2011
  2. ^ Columbia Gazetteer of North America entry for "Little Platte River"
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Platte River
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Platte River
  5. ^ a b c DeLorme (1998). Iowa Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 978-0-89933-214-7.
  6. ^ a b c d DeLorme (2002). Missouri Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 978-0-89933-353-3.
  7. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: West Platte River
  8. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Middle Platte River
  9. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: East Platte River
  10. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Third Fork
  11. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Third Fork

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Little Platte River.