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Facts and History of Iowa

Statehood: - Iowa became the 29th state on December 28, 1846
Capital - Des Moines: - Founded at the confluence of the Des Moines and Racconn Rivers. Originally a Military outpost.
Nickname: The Hawkeye State: - The nickname was adopted early in the state's history. Two Iowa promoters from Burlington are believed to have popularized the name.

State Flag and Motto
Dixie Cornell Gebhardt of Knoxville, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, designed the Iowa Flag in 1917, and it was officially adopted in 1921. The Eagle carries the State Motto: "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain"

State Seal
The Great Seal of Iowa pictures a citizen soldier standing in a wheat field surrounding by farming and industrial tools, with the Mississippi River in the background. An Eagle overhead bears the State Motto

State Flower
The Wild Rose blooms in shades of pink and was chosen as an Iowa symbol in 1897 because it decorated the silver service Iowans presented that year to the battleship USS Iowa

State Bird
The Eastern Goldfinch - The lithe, little "yellow canary" is plentiful in Iowa, often staying through the winter.

State Tree
Oak - Abundant and beautiful, the oak is prized for its contributions to the wildlife ecosystem.

State Rock
Geode - A rare and beautiful rock, geode means "earthlike." When broken open a sparkling lining of mineral crystals is revealed.

The Louisana Purchase:

The word "Iowa" comes from the American Indian tribe Iowa.
Iowa was part of the Louisiana Purchased, a deal arranged between President Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte of France that brought a large tract of land to the United states, nearly doubling the size of the ubited States. The area was closed to white settlers until the early 1830s.

Black Hawk War:

Folowing the Black Hawk War - a conflict that ended in 1832 near present day New Albin - the Sauk and Fox were forced to make their first land cessions west of the Mississippi River. In exchange of the fertile Mississippi Valley lands of modern day eastern Iowa, the United States Government gave the Sauk and Fox a small amount of cash, 40 barrels of salt, 40 barrels of tobacco and some blacksmithing services. The tribes were ordered out of the area a year later.

Lewis and Clark Expedition:

Early explorers included the famed Lewis and Clark. Sergeant Charles Floyd's was the only death in that historic journey. A monument stands in Sioux City near the spot where Floyd was buried.

Steamboat Era:

During the 19th century, the steamboat paddlewheelers reigned supreme on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The Steamboat Bertrand sank in the Missouri Valley. Excavated in 1969, the cargo is now on display in a fasinating exhibit at the Desoto National Wildlife Preserve visitor center.

Early State Government:

After pioneer settlement began with the Black Hawk Purchase, Iowa became part of the Michigan Territory. When Michigan achieved statehood in 1836, Iowa then became part of the Wisconsin Territory. two years later, the Iowa Territory was carved out of the area of the Wisconsin Territory west of the Mississippi River. The first Territory legislature met in Burlington before a Territorial capital city was selected in Johnson County.. In Iowa City, the government seat was established in a grand structure now known today as the Old Capitol. Built in the early 1840's Old Captitol served as the last capitol of the Iowa Territory and the first capitol of the new Stateof Iowa. Under the 1857 Iowa constitution, the seat of the Government was moved to Des Moines, a more central location.


Journeying from eastern states or from the "Old Country" across the Atlantic, European immigrants came to Iowa to find fertile fields and freedom to exercise their traditions in peace. Several Iowa communities offer excellent collections that give insight into the pioneer experiences of locally important nationalities, including the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, in Decorah, the Danish Immigrant Museum, in Elk Horn and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and libary in Cedar Rapids.

The Mormon Trail

The Mormon pioneer trail, blazed from Illinois to Utah, beginning in 1846, is perhaps the single most important journey made in America's history. As the intrepid people braved the journey west, they passed through the southern tier of Iowa counties, leaving a lasting impression on the area's cultural history.

The Amana Colonies

The people of the Amanas, founded by a religious group from Germany, farmed in the European fashion - living in the village and going out to the fields to work, rather than living on separate farms. Today, thousands visit the Amanas to experience the Old World ways.

Underground Railroad

People fleeing the tyranny of pre Civil War slavery in the Old South passed through Iowa on the underground Railroad, a chain of safe houses that led to liberty. Today, you can visit homes that helped speed so many to freedom, including the Lewelling Quaker Shrine in Salem, an 1840s stone house where you can see hiding places used by people fleeing slavery, The Hitchcock House in Lewis, The Todd House in Tabor, often visited by John Brown, and a place where massive munitions were stored for Kansas free state fight, The Jordan House in West Des Moines, refurbished to include 16 period rooms, a railroad museum, and a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad.



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