Caruthersville is the most populous city in and the county seat of Pemiscot County, Missouri, United States, located along the Mississippi River in the Bootheel region of the state's far southeast. The population was 6,168, according to the 2010 Census.
Caruthersville lies in Missouri's Bootheel on the Mississippi River. The word "Pemiscot" comes from the Fox language word pemiskaw, meaning "liquid mud". Mississippi waters have frequently flooded the flatlands, creating fertile alluvial land valued for farming. Settling the floodplain has resulted in periodic problems for residents, as there are regular floods despite (and because of) elaborate constructed systems of levees and flood controls.
Native Americans inhabited the land of the Caruthersville area for thousands of years before European settlement. The Mississippian culture built huge earthwork mounds throughout the Mississippi Valley. One such earthwork remains in this county, rising 270 feet above sea level about four miles southwest of Caruthersville. It stands in contrast to the surrounding delta-like plain.
The City of Caruthersville was incorporated on May 18, 1874. The first few decades of the town's growth can be documented through Sanborn Maps, which recorded building ownership, materials, and use.
In 1893, Missouri's General Assembly created the Saint Francis Levee District to construct protection for that part of the Saint Francis River 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.
In February 1969, construction began on a bridge across the Mississippi at Caruthersville. Completed in 1976 and connecting with Dyersburg, Tennessee, it is the only bridge to cross the Mississippi River between Cairo, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee. It is a single-tower cantilever bridge carrying Interstate 155 and U.S. Route 412.
During the night of April 2, 2006, 60% of Caruthersville was severely damaged or destroyed by a string of tornadoes that passed through the Midwestern United States. At least two persons were confirmed killed in Pemiscot County as a result of the tornado. On Monday morning, local police, state troopers, and national guard had barred entrance into Caruthersville and issued it as a "no fly zone" to anyone who was not a resident, an emergency worker, or a member of the newsmedia. According to the emergency management director from a nearby county, as many as 1,500 people were displaced by the storm, which struck the southwest side of the city. As reported by Caruthersville's mayor, Diane Sayre, there were no confirmed fatalities within city limits, but electricity and water services were disabled. Several churches, landmarks, and schools were destroyed or severely damaged, including St. John's Episcopal, Jesus Name Tabernacle, Faith Missionary Baptist, Caruthersville Municipal Airport, Caruthersville Cotton Warehouse, the Boy's and Girl's Club of the Bootheel, Knox's Drive In, the Kwik Chek, Caruthersville High School, and Caruthersville Middle School. There were no deaths in Caruthersville.
In November 2006, the Caruthersville City School District put a bond issue on the ballot to build a new high school, which was 85 cents per $100 assessed. This issue was defeated by a vote of 827 to 631.  Caruthersville High School was torn down, and was rebuilt. The building was completed in February 2011. The Senior Class of 2010 graduated in May as the only class in Caruthersville High School history to never have class in a high school building. The Class of 2009 were freshmen when the tornado hit, becoming the last class to be in the old high school building. The Class of 2011 were the first seniors to graduate from the new high school building.
Mayor Rick Davis died in a house fire on July 24, 2014. Davis is the second mayor in a row to die in office. The previous mayor, Diane Sayre, also died in office, as did the next acting Mayor Pro Tem, Frank Morgan. The deaths are under investigation.
Davis' death followed an attack in the city hall. On June 26, two city hall employees were attacked with a knife by suspect Richard Edward Jaworski, 50, a resident of the city. Police say the suspect entered the municipal building on June 26 and stabbed a water clerk 13 times after his water had been turned off for lack of payment of bills.