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Iowa is a state of the north-central United States. It was admitted as the 29th state in 1846. Part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Iowa was organized as a separate territory in 1838. The Mound Builders lived in the area in prehistoric times. Des Moines is the capital and the largest city. Population: 2,960,000.
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When early European explorers first saw the land of Iowa in the late 1600s, many Indian groups lived or hunted there. The Iowa, Miami, Ottawa, and Sioux tribes lived along the Mississippi River. The Omaha, Oto, and Missouri tribes lived in the western part of the state.
In 1673, French explorers canoed down the Mississippi River reaching the shore of Iowa. It is believed that the 1673 voyage marked the first time that white people visited the region of Iowa. Other expeditions followed and in 1682, Robert Cavelier reached the mouth of the Mississippi River. He claimed the entire region for France and named it Louisiana, in honor of King Louis the Great.
During the early 1700s, only a few missionaries and fur traders visited the land now called Iowa; no permanent settlements were built. In 1788, French-Canadian Julien Dubuque bought land from the Meskwaki people to mine lead near present-day Dubuque. He became the first white settler of Iowa. Soon afterward, other settlers began to arrive.
In 1803, the United States bought Louisiana from France, including the land of Iowa. Two years later the Louisiana Territory was created and the Lewis and Clark Expedition sent out to explore the new territory. In 1808, the U.S. Army built Fort Madison, Iowa's first fort.
The Iowa region changed into different territories as states were created during the early 1800s. In 1821, Iowa became part of the unorganized territory of the United States. As settlers desired to move west, Native Americans were forced out of their lands. The end of the Black Hawk War of 1832, gave a small area in Iowa for settlement near the Mississippi River. The first official white settlement in Iowa began in June 1833, in the Black Hawk Purchase. Most of Iowa's first white settlers came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.
The Iowa Territory was created on July 4, 1838. The boundaries included all of present-day Iowa, Minnesota, and parts of North and South Dakota. After much debate on its boundaries, Iowa became the 29th state on Dec. 28, 1846. Over 100,000 people lived in Iowa at that time.
Although no battles took place in Iowa during the Civil War (1861-1865), about 70,000 Iowans fought for the Union. After the war, Iowa's economy grew rapidly. By 1870, four railroads crossed the state connecting Iowa with the eastern market. New industries were developed and businesses opened. Iowa farmers led the nation in corn and livestock production.
During the early 1900s, land in Iowa increased in value. Farmers went deep into debt to buy land. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, many lost their lands. Farmers formed cooperatives to save their farms during this time. They joined together to buy supplies and sell their crops. World War II also helped Iowa's economy by increasing the need for pork and corn.
Many new industries moved into Iowa during the 1950s. Manufacturing businesses increased. Larger farms with new equipment were replacing small farms. People moved to the cities to find work. By 1960, the population living in cities was greater than in rural areas.
State government also went through changes. Liquor laws went from prohibiting the sale of alcohol in 1855, through several changes until the legalization of selling it with a county permit in 1963. Districts were changed to give equal representation in the legislature to the cities.
Recently, farmers have experienced another depression in the economy. Agricultural prices have dropped and federal aid has been reduced. Many have lost their farms, and other industries associated with the farming industry are also struggling. Some new industries have moved to Iowa that are helping to diversify the economy and provide better jobs. A few of these include publishing, printing, and electronic manufacturers.
- Ripley's Believe It or Not has dubbed Burlington's Snake Alley the most crooked street in the world.
- Strawberry Point is the home of the world's largest strawberry.
- The state's smallest city park is situated in the middle of the road in Hiteman.
- Scranton is home to Iowa's oldest water tower still in service.
- Dubuque is the state's oldest city.
- Crystal Lake is home to a statue of the world's largest bullhead fish.
- Rathbun Dam and Reservoir is the largest body of water in the state.
- Spirit Lake is the largest glacier-made lake in the state.
- West Okoboji is the deepest natural lake in the state. Its depth is 136 feet.
- Imes Bridge is the oldest of Madison County's six bridges.
- Iowa's longest and highest bridge crosses Lake Red Rock.
- Elk Horn in the largest Danish settlement in the United States.
- At 16 miles, East Okoboji is the longest natural lake in the state.
- Kalona is the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi River.
- The state's lowest elevation point (at 480 feet) is in Lee County.
- The Holliwell Bridge is the longest bridge in Madison County.
- Francis Drake was 66 years old at his inauguration and Iowa's oldest governor.
- Iowa's oldest continually running theater is in Story City.
- The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art houses the largest collection of Grant Wood artwork.
- Fenlon Place Elevator in Dubuque is the world's steepest and shortest railway.
- Wright County has the highest percentage of grade-A topsoil in the nation.
- Quaker Oats, in Cedar Rapids, is the largest cereal company in the world.
- The Saint Francis Xavier Basilica in Dyersville is the only basilica in the United States situated outside a major metropolitan area.
- Clarion is the only county seat in the exact center of the county.
- Dubuque is home to the only county courthouse with a gold dome.
- Cornell College is the only school in the nation to have its entire campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City honors the only man to die during the Lewis and Clark expedition.
- Maynard Reece is the only artist to win the Federal Duck Stamp competition five times.
- A bronze life-sized sculpture of a Norwegian immigrant family (circa 1860) is located on a six acre restored prairie site located at the east entry to Lake Mills on Highway 105.
- Iowa's only operating antique carousel is located in the city of Story City.
- Knoxville's National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum is the only museum in the country dedicated to preserving the history of sprint car racing.
- Iowa's only fire tower is situated in Yellow River State Forest.
- Sabula is Iowa's only town on an island.
- Herbert Hoover, a West Branch native, was the 31st president of the United States and the first one born west of the Mississippi.
- Mamie Doud Eisenhower's birthplace is located in Boone and includes a restored frame house, complete with summer kitchen and original furniture from the family.
- Van Meter is the hometown of baseball's Bob Feller, an Iowa farm boy who went on to greatness with the Cleveland Indians during the Golden Age of baseball.
- Born Donnabelle Mullenger in Denison, Oscar Award-winning actress, Donna Reed, started her career at the young age of 16.
- Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, John Wayne was the son of a pharmacist and grew up to become one of Hollywood's most popular movie stars.
- Meredith Willson, who played with the famous John Philip Sousa and the New York Philharmonic before launching his career as a famous composer and lyricist, is a Mason City native.
- Glenn Miller, noted trombonist and orchestra leader, was born in Clarinda located in Southwest Iowa.
- The town of Fort Atkinson was the site of the only fort ever built by the U.S. government to protect one Indian tribe from another.
- Campers and motor homes are manufactured in Winnebago County. They're called Winnebago's.
- Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are 100% formed by water.
- Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
- The highest double track railroad bridge in the world, the Kate Shelley Bridge, is located at Boone.
- Iowa is the only state name that starts with two vowels.
- The famous actor John Wayne was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907.
- Iowa State University is the oldest land grant college in the U.S.A.
- Decorah hosts Nordic Fest a three-day celebration of Decorah's Scandinavian heritage.
- The National Balloon Museum in Indianola chronicles more than 200 years of ballooning history.
- Sheldon High School Summer Theatre, the only high school repertory in Iowa and one of just a few in the nation presents a different play for each week in June and July.
- Iowa.gov - Official website.
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