Nebraska's eastern border state Iowa is also the name of an Native American nation that inhabited the Great Plains area. Iowa didn't get its name from the natives directly at least, Iowa was named after the Iowa River, which in turn was named after the Iowa Native American nation. Before the Iowa natives lived in the area, Iowa was home to the "mound people," an ancient civilization that built homes made of mud.
Iowa was visited by French fur trappers and traders that ventured inland from the Mississippi River on the east side while the lands were still under France's rule.. The western area was visited by a lesser degree although some fur trappers/traders had made it into the area before the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1906 that followed the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Even though the lands were under the rule of the U.S., the Native Americans had not had their say in things. Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk nation led the Fox and Sauk in the Black Hawk War that ended in 1832. In exchange for 40 barrels of tobacco, 40 barrels of salt, some cash, and blacksmith services, the Fox and Sauk agreed to cede lands to the US and move to Oklahoma. In 1833, the natives were still living in the area and were asked to leave.
Following the Black Hawk purchase, Iowa became part of the Michigan Territory. When Michigan became a state in 1836, Iowa became part of Wisconsin Territory. In 1838, the Wisconsin Territory was divided to form the Iowa Territory (lands west of the Mississippi). Eight years later, Iowa became the 29th state on December 28th, 1846.
1846 was an important year in Iowa's history for more than just the admission as a state, it is the fateful year that torrential rains, the worst in Iowa's history tormented western travelers. Most folks stayed put, others had no choice. The Mormon's attempting to escape religious persecution found that a 3 and half week journey took as long as 4 months to cross the state, understandable when mud was up to the axles in places along the way.
Iowa has the Mississippi River on its eastern border and the Missouri on its western border. The Missouri River was at the western extremes of civilization at the time Iowa became a state. It would be several years before the floodgates would be opened to the west beyond Iowa. As a result, Iowa became a popular destination for early westward travelers looking for a better life. Many found it in Iowa when they discovered rich and fertile sols, flatlands with some rolling hills, and lakes and streams. Iowa was ideal for farming. With advances in civilization and technology, Iowa remains an important agricultural state helping to feed the nation.
Iowa is known for the Bridges of Madison County near Des Moines, the state capitol. The Duke was born in a small frame house nearby. American Gothic artist Grant Wood lived in several locations in eastern Iowa. Herbert Hoover was from Iowa. The University of Iowa with locations in Ames and Iowa City produce the nations agricultural experts, educators, and leaders of tomorrow, and occasionally excellent football players.
NeighborsCouncil Bluffs (55,569)
To Omaha, Iowa is just across the river. As a result, the immediate neighborhood of Council bluffs is a continuing metropolitan area to Omaha's downtown. An exchange of commerce has helped both cities grow. Council Bluffs has an abundance of the rare black squirrels. Today, Council Bluffs is home to the area's casinos and casino riverboats. Council Bluffs has a rich history from the days of the early settlers. There are several tourist and historic sites to visit in the area. For more interesting information, visit the Council Bluffs page.
Lake Okoboji is the hidden wonderland of the world. There are two wonderful lakes there with a small connection joining them so you can travel from one to the other. One of the lakes is a rarity among lakes, the water temperature is constant year around at around 60 to 100 feet because the water doesn't move. The same does not occur except in Sweden or Scotland or thereabouts, I can't remember exactly.
Lake Okoboji used to be pretty much a tourist town that died for a few months starting at the end of Labor Day weekend. Stores closed out merchandise at up to 75% off. Now, they are home to the Winter Games on Ice. You will find that many Omahans have a degree from Lake Okoboji University, or at least the rear window sticker. It is pretty easy to pass the "bar exam" there. The favorite Omaha band to play Okoboji is the Fishheads. The fans are so dedicated and the drive worth it, that many fans from Okoboji show up at Omaha Fishheads shows.
Storm Lake is in the northwestern area of Iowa directly south of Okoboji.
Clear Lake is in the north central area of Iowa.
Iowa needed a place to grow smart corn so they built a campus out in the middle of a big field. People interested in growing lots of corn continued to go there. Since it was a great place for Iowa girls to meet Iowa boys, they started going there too. Now so many go there that it is a great place to have a concert. The Rolling Stones did.
Iowa needed a place in the opposite corner of the state to compliment Ames. Same thing happened. More.
Coralville is the counterpart to Iowa
Near the top of Iowa, almost in the center, is Britt, Iowa. A small community, quite for most of the year, then something happens in August. Every remaining hobo, retired or not makes their way to Britt for the annual hobo celebration. Good music, amazing unrecognized talent. Take highway 18 west from Interstate 35.
"Davenport Blues" -- Bix Beiderbecke
Iowa's Eastern edge of I-80 has an area made up of four towns forming a metropolis of over a million people called the Quad Cities, two on the Iowa side, two on the Illinois side. Davenport and Bettendorf are on the Iowa side, Moline and Rock Island on the Illinois side. Actually, a large portion of Rock Island is in the middle of the Mississippi river on an island. That portion is an Army base, called the Rock Island Arsenal.
Off the four cities, Davenport is the largest. Davenport has produced some famous musicians. I think Paulina's husband is from Davenport. Davenport is home to the famous Jazz player Bix Beiderbecke and the Bix Jazz Festival. Regardless of your age or taste in music, it is a great thing to go to. For a couple of days, music is played in the band shell near the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport. This event brings out the community from old to young, helping to commemorate their community's contribution and to bring up a new generation of the same appreciation. It is worth the drive, make plans early for hotels. Davenport is also home to the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival held at the same location. Those Davenport folks know how to draw a crowd.
If you enjoy outdoor places with plenty of wild life, then make sure you visit the Quad City Wild Places to learn about where the best places to take a hike, photograph some nature, and more.
At the end of the summer, it is a good time to float down the Mississippi River with a large group of friends and soon-to-be-friends. The Floatzilla is an annual event that is a lot of fun. Grab your kayak (or rent one) and get ready for one massive collection of floating on the Mississippi.
Moline, Illinois is where John Deere tractors are built. Moline also has a festival at the end of the summer known as the "The Last Roundup" put on by the local drinking establishment by the same name. Bands after bands in hot sun, cold beer, atmosphere. The celebration does not end until closing time. Since Illinois bars stay open to four in the morning, the last people in the bar are the reason the phrase "Brown Bottle Flu" got started.*
Bettendorf is where houses are build. Bettendorf also has good B.B.Q.
Built on the Cedar River, Cedar Rapids is in the North Eastern part of Iowa. They fish off of the bridges in downtown. I like that.
Grant Woods, the painter of American Gothic lived in Cedar Rapids for a while. You can still visit the home where he lived. A few years back, Cedar Rapids local artists created reincarnations of a modern day "American Gothic" in a project called "Overalls all Over." Several of the updated versions of the American Gothic painting are still displayed around Cedar Rapids. You can see some examples of the art on the Grant Wood Art Gallery website.
Cedar Rapids has a great treasure in the western part of town in one of its parks. Hundreds maybe even thousands of geese take advantage of the lake there. This gives an opportunity to examine the birds much closer than some of the game preserves allow. They are quite docile until a dog is let off of its walking leash or a child runs near a few of them. The chain reaction of a hundred or so geese taking to flight is no less than spectacular. I'm sure this results in some stress for the geese but they settle right back down as soon as the threat is recognized to be not so worrisome. Since no great harm comes as a result of it, each time I visited the park, I found myself hoping for another curious child to come along and investigate. The sudden outburst of wings flapping causes an increase of heartbeat without exercise, which I call geese therapy.
Cedar Rapids is the only location within Omaha's six state neighbors that has a National Trust Historic Site. The 21 room Brucemore home and estate is located in the middle of Cedar Rapids.
Brucemore National Trust Page Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
Further up the Cedar River that flows through Cedar Rapids is Cedar Falls and Waterloo located in the north eastern part of Iowa. Cedar Falls, unlike Cedar Rapids, can justify their name. Researchers there discovered Elvis lives in Paraguay.
Iowa needed a big central meeting place. Des Moines was the obvious choice. Understandably, it became the capitol so they gathered all of the gold they could find, pounded it out really thin and placed it on top of a building so people and pigeons would easily spot it for miles around. Near Des Moines is where "Duke" John Wayne was born. The small house where he was born is still standing due to it being a small tourist attraction. Right in the same area (Madison County) are several covered bridges. A photographer that went there enjoyed it very much.
Mason City is near the northern edge in the central eastern half. This is where the plane took off carrying The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and Buddy Holly on February 3rd, 1959 after a local show.
Stone City is not too far from Cedar Rapids. Grant Woods painted there; a celebration honors him each year. Cool place. A large number of the building are made of stone from the salt mines there.
Named after the Sioux Indians, Sioux City has a great festival called Saturday in the Park near the end of June. More about Sioux City.
For more information about Iowa, check out these Iowa related websites:
Attraction Links (arranged alphabetically by city)
Amana Colonies, Amana-Willkommen
Reiman Gardens, Ames
Western Historical Trails Center, Council Bluffs
Pottawattamie Historical Society, Council Bluffs
Loess Hills Scenic Byway, Council Bluffs area
Symphony of Christmas Lights, Clinton
Danish Wind Mill, Elk Horn
Pella Tulip Festival, Pella, Iowa
Summerset Inn & Winery
Tabor Home Vineyards & Winery
La Vida Loca Winery
Eagles Landing Winery
Eagle City Winery
Heritage Wine & Cheese Haus
Old Wine Cellar