Cape Girardeau jĭrär´dō, jērərdō´ [key], city (1990 pop. 61,633), Cape Girardeau co., SE Mo., overlooking the Mississippi River; founded 1793, inc. as a city 1843. It is a transportation, trade, and distribution center with factories that manufacture a variety of products. Its position on the river, near the confluence with the Ohio River, spurred its early growth. The city lies within the New Madrid fault zone, which was the site of major earthquakes in 1811–12. During the Civil War the city was occupied by Union forces; four forts were built, of which Fort D (1861) is notable. Cape Girardeau is known for its roses; one display garden has numerous varieties. Southeast Missouri State Univ. is there. The city is connected with Illinois by a highway bridge.
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