Iowa State Facts - Iowa History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Iowa history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Iowa
Capital Des Moines
41.57673 N, 093.61740 W
Constitution Ratified 1857
Statehood December 28, 1846
29th state
Number of Counties 99 Counties in Iowa
Largest County
(by population)
Polk County
570 sq. mi.

Iowa History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1837 - Chartered in 1837. Dubuque is the state's oldest city.
  • 1847 -
    • Iowa State Motto, "Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain" was adopted
  • 1850 - Amana, in east central Iowa, is one of seven small villages established by a German religious sect in the 1850s and early 1860s.
  • 1860 - 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.
  • 1862 - Founded in 1858 and coeducational from its start, Iowa State became the nation's first designated land-grant institution when the Iowa Legislature accepted the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act on September 11, 1862, making Iowa the first state in the nation to do so.
  • 1870 - Imes Bridge is the oldest of Madison County's six bridges, 81 feet (25 m) long.
  • 1880 - The Holliwell Bridge is the longest bridge in Madison County, 122 feet (37 m) long.
  • 1893 - In Spillville, near Decorah, is the house where the famous Czech composer Antonín Dvorák lived in the summer of 1893 during his visit to America.
  • 1897 -
    • Scranton is home of the oldest working water tower still in service in Iowa, and is tied for the 9th oldest water tower still in service in the United States.
  • 1899 to 1901 - The highest double track railroad bridge in the world, the Kate Shelley Bridge, is located at Boone.
  • 1907 - The famous actor John Wayne was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907. 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.
  • 1921- The state flag of Iowa was adopted
  • 1933- The official bird of the Iowa is the Eastern Goldfinch.
  • 1949 - The State song of Iowa is "Song of Iowa"
  • 1961 - The official tree of Iowa is the Oak.
  • 1964 - Construction begin Rathbun Dam and Reservoir, the largest body of water in the state.
  • 1967 - Geode, it was chosen as the official rock of Iowa
  • 2002 - English is the Iowa State Language.

More Iowa History Firsts & State Facts

  • Ripley's Believe It or Not has dubbed Burlington's Snake Alley the most crooked street in the world.
  • Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeastern Iowa preserves prehistoric mounds constructed in the outline of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
  • Iowa is the nation's third most productive agricultural state, following only California and Texas in the value of its yearly farm output.
  • Kalona is the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi River.
  • Fenelon Place ElevatorThe Fourth Street Elevator is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge funicular railway located in Dubuque, Iowa. Also known as the Fenelon Place Elevator, it is claimed to be the shortest and steepest railroad in the world (although several other funiculars also make this claim). It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Fourth Street Elevator is run from April 1 to November 30. The hours are from 8 am to 10 pm. It only has one door, the entrance at the small shack at the bottom of the hill.
  • Quaker Oats, in Cedar Rapids, is the largest cereal company in the world.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Crystal Lake is home to a statue of the world's largest bullhead fish.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wright County has the highest percentage of grade-A topsoil in the nation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 US 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 name that starts with two vowels.
  • 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.
  • Situated at an elevation of 1,670 feet, the Hawkeye Point is the tallest point in the state.
  • The state's lowest elevation point (at 480 feet) is in Lee County.
County Information and County History
State Facts & History Firsts
State Fun Facts - History Firsts