New Madrid County Port is located on the Mississippi River in the Bootheel of southeast Missouri about 68 kilometers (42 miles) southwest of the southernmost city in Illinois, Cairo. New Madrid County Port is about 134 nautical miles upriver (171 kilometers or 106 miles north-northeast by air) from the Port of Memphis. New Madrid County Port is also some 210 nautical miles downriver (240 kilometers or 149 miles south-southeast by air) from the Port of St. Louis. In 2009, almost 17.5 thousand people lived in New Madrid County, and over 60% of its residents lived in rural areas.
The biggest town in New Madrid County, and also the county seat, is New Madrid. The New Madrid County economy is diverse. Agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing account for the largest single sector in the New Madrid County economy. Other important industries include metals and metal products, construction, and transportation. Farming is an important contributor to the New Madrid County economy, with soybeans, cotton, corn, and wheat as the major harvests. The New Madrid County Port is centrally located in the United States' Midwest Region, and it is accessible by road, rail, and river. The renovated county airport is near the harbor.
In 1781, French Canadians established the first settlement in what would become New Madrid County. New Madrid County was organized by the First General Assembly of the Missouri Territory in 1812.
In 1811 and 1812, more than one thousand earthquakes struck New Madrid County, some of them possibly as strong as 9.0. Felt as far away as the US East Coast, the quakes led the Territorial Governor to ask for Federal relief for New Madrid County in 1814.
During the American Civil War, New Madrid County was the site of the Battle of Island Number Ten when the Union victory was the first time Confederate forces lost a position on the Mississippi River. Three weeks later, New Orleans fell to David G. Farragut's Union fleet, threatening the Confederacy with being split in two.