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Salem, Missouri
City of Salem
Location of Salem, Missouri
Location of Salem, Missouri
Country United States
State Missouri
County Dent
Township Spring Creek East, Spring Creek West
 • Type Mayor–council government
 • Total 3.17 sq mi (8.22 km2)
 • Land 3.17 sq mi (8.22 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,181 ft (360 m)
 • Total 4,608
 • Density 1,452/sq mi (560.6/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 573
FIPS code 29-65234
GNIS feature ID 0725919

Salem is the county seat of Dent County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,608 at the 2020 census, which allows Salem to become a Class 3 city in Missouri; however, the city has chosen to remain a Class 4 city under Missouri Revised Statutes. Salem is located a few miles north of the Ozark Scenic Riverways and close to Montauk State Park, which contains the headwaters of the Current River.

The name Salem is derived from the Hebrew word Shalom, meaning "peace".


Dent County was first explored by Dustin Counts and settled between 1818 and 1829. In 1851 the Missouri Assembly created Dent County from Crawford and Shannon counties. It was named for early settler Lewis Dent, who served as the first representative. A log courthouse, built about 1851 or 1852, was Dent County's first and was located on the Wingfield farm northeast of Salem. W. P. Williams became the first mayor of Salem in 1860, just after the Missouri State Legislature passed laws regarding the administration of village government. During the American Civil War, Salem was sometimes manned by units of the 5th Missouri State Militia. Village governments were suspended during the Civil War. In 1881, Salem was incorporated as a town.

The town boasts a number of museums including the Ozark Natural & Cultural Resource Center, the Bonebrake Center of Nature and History, and a historic Downtown Walking Tour.

A 2012 dog bite case that resulted in legal action generated significant media coverage for Salem. David Backes of the St. Louis Blues and his wife got involved by securing a home for the dog in a no-kill animal shelter, though the offer was not needed after the matter was resolved. The dog's owners applied for civil relief before associate circuit judge Scott Bernstein, which was granted, and the dog was returned to them sixteen months after being seized by town officials. The result of the case was that political leadership in the 4th Class city arrangement was adjusted and at the next local election, the mayor of fourteen years was replaced by the veterinarian who boarded the yellow Labrador retriever.

The Dam and Spillway in the Hatchery Area at Montauk State Park, Dent County Courthouse, Lower Parker School, Montauk State Park Open Shelter, Nova Scotia Ironworks Historic District, Old Mill at Montauk State Park, and W.A. Young House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.18 square miles (8.24 km2), all of it land.


Salem has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). It has cool winters and warm summers with consistent rainfall year-round.

Climate data for Salem, Missouri
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 43
Average low °F (°C) 23
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.19


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 280
1880 1,624 480.0%
1890 1,815 11.8%
1900 1,481 −18.4%
1910 1,796 21.3%
1920 1,771 −1.4%
1930 2,250 27.0%
1940 3,151 40.0%
1950 3,611 14.6%
1960 3,870 7.2%
1970 4,363 12.7%
1980 4,454 2.1%
1990 4,486 0.7%
2000 4,854 8.2%
2010 4,950 2.0%
2020 4,608 −6.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

Lower Parker School House MO NPS
The Lower Parker School House which has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dent County Courthouse, Salem, Missouri
The Dent County Courthouse has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Missouri.
  • Old Mill, Montauk State Park, Missouri 2019
    Old Mill at Montauk State Park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,950 people, 2,152 households, and 1,248 families living in the city. The population density was 1,556.6 inhabitants per square mile (601.0/km2). There were 2,408 housing units at an average density of 757.2 per square mile (292.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.94% White, 0.53% Black or African American, 1.13% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.08% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.17% of the population.

There were 2,152 households, of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.0% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.93.

The median age in the city was 39.5 years. 24.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.5% were from 25 to 44; 24.1% were from 45 to 64; and 20.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.5% male and 53.5% female.


Salem High School is the only high school located within the city. Salem is also home to an extension of Southwest Baptist University.

Salem has a lending library, the Salem Public Library.

Notable people

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Salem (Misuri) para niños

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