Friday, 10 January 2014


Iowa, state in the northern part of the central United States. It lies in the heart of the North American continent, in the region known as the Midwest. Iowa, with its fertile prairie lands and heavily agricultural economy devoted to raising grain and livestock, is often considered the typical Midwestern state. Iowa entered the Union on December 28, 1846, as the 29th state. Des Moines is the state’s capital and largest city.
Iowa is, in large part, an efficient, large-scale production line for the nation’s food. From rich black earth to waving corn to fattened hog and steer foodstuffs, the entire process is carried out on a grand scale. Most of the corn and other grains are fed to Iowa’s hogs and cattle. Then, factories take over to pack the meat, process any grain that remains, and produce the equipment to till the soil, harvest the corn, run the farms, and process the farm products. Other factories produce goods that have little or nothing to do with agriculture, such as ball-point pens, washing machines, and office furniture. In value of annual economic production, Iowa is primarily an industrial state, but much of its industrial output remains based on farm production.
The state’s name was taken from the Iowa River, which in turn was named for the Iowa people, the Native Americans who lived in the region during early European exploration. Iowa is called the Hawkeye State. The name is believed to be a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, a leader of the Sac people who were relocated to Iowa after unsuccessful resistance to white settlement.
Iowa is the 26th largest state in the Union. It has a total area of 145,744 sq km (56,272 sq mi), including 1,041 sq km (402 sq mi) of inland water. The state has a maximum extent from east to west of 534 km (332 mi) and a maximum distance from north to south of 344 km (214 mi). The mean elevation is about 340 m (1,100 ft).
The physical features of present-day Iowa are the result of widespread and repeated glaciation during the last Ice Age and the subsequent changes brought about by wind and water erosion. Few of the sedimentary rock formations underlying the state are visible on the surface, for they are covered by a thick mantle of glacial deposits.
During the Ice Age, which began about 2.5 million years ago and lasted until about 10,000 years ago, great ice sheets from the north advanced and retreated successively across Iowa. As each ice sheet, or glacier, advanced across the land, it planed off existing hills and filled in valleys, picking up rock material as it went. As it retreated, the ice sheet left behind layers of clays, sands, gravels, and boulders, which together are called drift, or glacial drift. The drift included clays and boulders that were deposited directly by the ice sheet and are called till, or ground moraine. In addition, streams of meltwater flowing out of the retreating ice deposited a variety of other rock material.
Not all of the ice sheets covered all of Iowa. Although the earliest ones did extend across nearly the entire area, the subsequent ice sheets generally covered only the north central parts of Iowa. Consequently, the materials left by the more recent ice sheets masked some of the older drift deposits. As a result, the age and relative degree of erosion of the mantle of glacial drift differ from section to section. These differences are reflected in the division of the state into natural regions.
A Natural Regions
Iowa lies entirely within the natural region, or physiographic province, called the Central Lowland, which in turn forms part of the Interior Plains. The Central Lowland can be divided into several subregions, or sections, four of which extend into Iowa. These four sections are the Till Plains, the Dissected Till Plains, the Western Young Drift section, and the Driftless section. In order to distinguish clearly among them, the four sections will be treated as separate natural regions in this article.
The Till Plains, in Iowa, cover a narrow section of the east along the Mississippi River. They are the westernmost extension of the areas of till that cover much of Illinois and Indiana. They are distinguished from the adjoining Dissected Till Plains by being relatively newer in age and, consequently, less eroded. The flat surface of the Till Plains is broken only by a few hummocks that are formed of glacial drift.
The Dissected Till Plains occupy most of southern and western Iowa. Glaciated only during the early part of the Ice Age, the till plains of this section have been more dissected, or eroded, than in more recently formed drift or till areas. The terrain varies from almost flat prairie east of Ottumwa to distinctly hilly areas elsewhere in the region. In general, the hilliest areas are in the south and west. Much of the Dissected Till Plains, as well as the adjoining Till Plains, is covered by deposits of loess, a wind-carried form of glacial silt laid down during the last part of the Ice Age. Along the major rivers, especially the Missouri, the loess deposits were piled up by wind action to form steep-sided bluffs that rise as much as 46 m (150 ft) above the river surface.
The Western Young Drift section occupies most of north central Iowa. Leveled by the most recent ice sheet, it remains a generally flat area little altered by erosion. Glacial boulders still lie scattered over its flat, little-eroded surface. Small lake-filled depressions were once numerous in the western part of this region, but most of them have been filled in or drained to provide excellent farmland. This western area, called the Iowa Prairie, is the most recently glaciated part of the state. It is marked on the east and west by a series of pronounced ridges or rises, which represent the terminal moraines left by the last ice sheet.
The Western Young Drift section lacks the loess deposits common to southern Iowa, but fertile soils have developed on the thick layer of recent glacial drift. Agriculturally this is the most productive crop-growing section of the state. It also, perhaps, typifies the commonly held image of Iowa, with its flat fertile farmlands so well suited to large-scale farming.
The Driftless section, most of which lies in southern Wisconsin and is known as the Wisconsin Driftless section, occupies a small part of northeastern Iowa. It was glaciated by only the earliest of the ice sheets. Erosion has long since removed most of the early glacial drift and has exposed the underlying rock formations. This section, with its many ridges, cliffs, springs, and steep-sided valleys, is generally higher, more rugged, and less fertile than the other sections of Iowa.
B Rivers and Lakes
The rivers of Iowa are all part of the Mississippi River system, and they flow either southeastward to the Mississippi or southwestward to the Missouri River, a tributary of the Mississippi. The watershed, or divide between the rivers flowing southeastward and southwestward, runs down the western side of the state. As a result, the rivers draining to the Missouri River and also to the Big Sioux River, a tributary of the Missouri, are relatively short. They include the Floyd, Little Sioux, and Boyer rivers. Most of the Iowa tributaries of the Mississippi proper are much longer and flow in shallow, roughly parallel valleys. They include the Iowa River, the longest river entirely within the state at 530 km (330 mi), and the Des Moines, Wapsipinicon, Skunk, and Turkey rivers.
There are about 100 small lakes in Iowa. The natural lakes, most of them located in the Western Young Drift section, include Spirit, West Okoboji Clear, Storm, East Okoboji, Lost Island, Silver, and West Swan lakes. In addition, reservoirs have been created by damming several smaller Iowa rivers. There are a number of large reservoirs behind dams on the Mississippi River along the Iowa state line.
C Climate
Iowa’s climate is characterized by warm, generally moist summers and cold winters. Temperatures vary considerably from season to season and, at times, from day to day. However, monthly averages are relatively uniform throughout the state and usually vary less than 6°C (10°F) from place to place. Although total snowfall is rarely very great, the severity of the Iowa winter is often increased by high winds that produce blizzard conditions and by prolonged periods of very low temperatures.
C1 Temperature
Average monthly temperatures in July range from less than 22°C (72°F) in northern Iowa to more than 24°C (76°F) in southern Iowa. Daytime highs in summer are usually between 29° and 32°C (85° and 90°F) in most of the state. Temperatures in the lower 40°s C (lower 110°s F) have been recorded, but these occur infrequently.
Average January temperatures range from less than -10°C (14°F) in the north to more than -4°C (24°F) in the extreme southeast. In winter nearly all places in the state may experience lows in the lower -30°s C (upper -20°s F).
C2 Precipitation
Most of the state receives between 660 and 910 mm (26 and 36 in) of precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) a year. In general, precipitation decreases from east to west. Most precipitation falls in the form of rain during the spring and summer, although prolonged droughts sometimes occur in summer.
C3 Growing Season
The growing season, the period between the last killing frost in the spring and the first killing frost in the fall, ranges from about 180 days in the southeastern and southwestern corners of the state to about 130 days in the extreme northwest. The last killing frost in the spring usually occurs in late April in the south and in early May in the north. The first killing frost in the fall generally occurs in late September or early October in the north and in the second week of October in the south.
D Soils
Fertile soils cover much of Iowa. Deep fertile soils formed in glacial till, which are thick deposits of material remaining from the abrasive forces of the continental ice sheets. Several thousand years ago, the glacial till in many areas was covered by loess blown in from nearby flood plains along the major rivers. The soils were later enriched by the humus content derived from the luxuriant growth of densely rooted prairie grasses. These so-called tall grass prairie soils, with thick, black or very dark gray surface layers, cover most of central, western, and northern Iowa. However, they no longer grow native prairie grass, as they have long since been put to agricultural uses. Among the most productive soils are those of the Prairie Pothole region in north central Iowa. In western Iowa, a strip of fertile alluvial soil extends the length of the Missouri River Valley.
The soils of southern and southeastern Iowa are classified dominantly as argiudolls and aquolls. They formed in older, more weathered glacial till with surface loess deposits generally thinner than the prairie soils to the north. The forces of erosion on this landscape have had more time to create relatively steeper hillsides. Consequently, the soils are generally less fertile, but are capable of producing high crop yields when effective farming practices are used.
The soils in the Driftless region are least suited to cultivation. Soils classified as hapludalfs occur on steep hillsides and are generally covered by woodland or pastureland. Hapludalfs also occur farther south in eastern Iowa.
E Plant Life
Before large-scale settlement reached Iowa in the 19th century, tall luxuriant prairie grasses covered most of the region. This vast sea of grass was broken only by ribbons of forest land along the major watercourses and by lakes, ponds, and swamp areas in the Iowa Prairie. Big bluestem and little bluestem were the most common prairie grasses. In the warmer months of the year they were intermingled with a variety of colorful wildflowers, including wild roses, pasqueflowers, asters, phlox, wild indigo brooms, goldenrods, lilies, and gentians. Although most of the original prairie, or grassland, has long since been cleared for cultivation, prairie flowers are still to be found in small plots and along roadsides throughout the state. The wild rose is the state flower. Other common wildflowers found in Iowa include the trillium, bloodroot, hepatica, anemone, and mayapple. In addition, pondweed, bladderwort, crowfoot, duckweed, hornwort, marsh marigold, and sedge are still to be found in the few remaining marshy areas.
Woodlands now cover 6 percent of Iowa, about one-fourth of the area they occupied before the arrival of European settlers. The woodlands, mainly in the Driftless section and along the major rivers, contain mostly second-growth and third-growth timber, the original trees having been cut during pioneer days. There are few extensive areas of densely wooded land in Iowa, and many of the larger woodland areas are preserved in state forests and parks. The most common trees are deciduous trees, such as species of oak, which is the state tree, hickory, maple, and elm. Green ash, willow, and cottonwood occur along river valleys across the state. In the Driftless section the trees are more typical of northern forests, and include several coniferous species. This mixture includes paper birch and white pine.
F Animal Life
Before the great influx of settlers in the 19th century the prairie lands and woodlands of Iowa supported a varied and abundant animal population. Since then, the state’s animal life has been generally reduced in numbers by hunting and by the disappearance of much of the original habitat. A few species, such as the bison and wapiti (elk), have long ago disappeared from Iowa.
The largest wild animal still found in Iowa is the white-tailed deer. Small animals common to Iowa include the muskrat, raccoon, red fox, jackrabbit, cottontail, fox squirrel, and gray squirrel. Among the other animals found there are the coyote, beaver, badger, weasel, mink, Eastern spotted skunk, striped skunk, gray fox, opossum, gopher, and woodchuck, or groundhog. A number of species of reptiles occur. They include three poisonous snakes: the massasauga, prairie, and timber rattlesnakes.
Iowa lies in the great Mississippi Flyway, a north-south migratory route followed by millions of birds during their annual migration along the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Waterfowl are especially numerous in the flyway. Among them are the mallard, redhead, blue-winged teal, American coot, Canada goose, and snow goose. Among the most popular game birds are the ring-necked pheasant in northern Iowa, the ruffed grouse in the northeast, and the bobwhite, a species of quail, in the south.
Birds that are permanent residents in Iowa include the goldfinch (the state bird), crow, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, cardinal, downy woodpecker, English sparrow, starling, redwing blackbird, common grackle, mourning dove, kingfisher, and cowbird. Migratory birds that are to be seen in the summer months in Iowa include the meadowlark, bobolink, robin, indigo bunting, dickcissel, and catbird, as well as species of warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, cuckoos, thrushes, and swallows. The American bald eagle winters in Iowa, and several species of hawk pass through the state in the summer.
Many of Iowa’s rivers and streams are well stocked with fish. Several varieties of catfish are common. Smallmouth bass, several kinds of trout, pike, yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, and carp are all found throughout Iowa.
G Conservation
Iowa’s environmental protection efforts are carried out by the state Department of Natural Resources. The department’s activities in this sphere are overseen by the state Environmental Protection Commission, which establishes policies, guidelines, and rules.
G1 Air Quality
Air quality in Iowa is generally quite good. Except for infrequent failures to meet the federal standard for carbon monoxide in the Des Moines and Mason City areas, the quality of the state’s air exceeds federal clean-air standards.
G2 Waste Management
In 2006 Iowa had 11 hazardous waste sites on a federal priority list for cleanup because of their severity or proximity to people. Between 1995 and 2000, the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment increased by 2 percent. The state has taken steps to reduce the disposal of household hazardous materials in landfills. Such materials include certain cleaning agents, solvents, used motor oil, paints, and insecticides. Since 1986 the state has sponsored “toxic cleanup days,” encouraging residents to take their household hazardous materials to centralized drop-off points in various counties for collection, treatment, and safe disposal. The state’s waste management authority has developed several programs to provide alternatives to landfill disposal, including curbside recycling and yard waste composting.
G3 Water Quality
Groundwater contamination has been the most widespread environmental problem in Iowa since at least 1970. Groundwater provides much of the state’s drinking water. The major sources of groundwater pollution are agricultural chemicals, leaking underground storage tanks, agricultural drainage wells, livestock waste, and improperly managed hazardous substances. In 1987 the legislature passed a comprehensive groundwater protection act. The law maintains the state’s long-standing emphasis on a nonregulatory program of research, education, and monitoring.
Fur trading and farming were the chief occupations of the early settlers in Iowa. Eventually, as settlement advanced westward from the Mississippi River, agriculture became the dominant activity. After the American Civil War (1861-1865) the expansion of railroads enabled the state’s farm produce to reach eastern markets and helped to bring about a shift in emphasis from growing wheat as a cash crop to growing corn for fattening livestock. Food processing developed as the chief manufacturing activity. This basic economic pattern continued until about the 1950s, when agriculture’s preeminence in relation to other sectors of the economy began to decline, particularly in relation to manufacturing. Still, much of the manufacturing is the processing of food products grown in the state.
Iowa’s total work force numbered 1,664,000 in 2006. Of those 35 percent worked in the diverse services sector, doing such jobs as working in restaurants or data processing. Another 19 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade; 15 percent in manufacturing; 17 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 5 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; 15 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 5 percent in construction; and 20 percent in transportation or public utilities. Employment in mining was insignificant. In 2005, 12 percent of Iowa’s workers were members of a labor union.
A Agriculture
Iowa is the nation’s third most productive agricultural state, behind only California and Texas in the value of its yearly farm output. In 2005 there were 89,000 farms in Iowa, covering 12.8 million hectares (31.6 million acres). Some 86 percent of Iowa’s farmland is devoted to crops, and the rest was mostly pasture. A large share of Iowa’s farms, 70 percent, produced annual income of more than $10,000. Many of the remaining farms were sidelines for operators who held other jobs. In 2004 the sale of crops generated 50 percent of Iowa’s total farm income. The rest came from livestock and livestock products.
A1 Crops
Corn and soybeans are the two most valuable and most widely cultivated crops in Iowa. Other leading crops are hay and oats. In 1999 Iowa ranked first among the states in the production of corn and soybeans.
Corn is the most important crop raised in the state. More than half of the annual corn crop is fed to livestock, particularly cattle and hogs. In addition, some corn is sold directly for making popcorn (of which Iowa is a major producer), breakfast cereals, and other foodstuffs, for making various kinds of livestock feed, and for whiskey distilling and other industrial purposes. Nearly all of the corn is hybrid corn, which provides greater yields per acre than nonhybrid corn and is resistant to disease or to prolonged drought. Iowa hybrid seed corn is much in demand in other Midwestern states.
Soybeans, the state’s second most valuable crop in terms of cash sales, are a versatile crop with many uses on the farm and in industry. The bean and the oil extracted from it are used in making manufactured livestock feed, foodstuffs, and a wide range of industrial products. In addition, the soybean plant itself is used as hay in summer or as silage in winter. The soybean gives the Iowa farmer a high yield per acre, rivaling that of corn, and it provides one of the most nutritious livestock feeds. As a leguminous plant, it is also an important factor in crop rotation because it restores nitrogen to the soil.
Hay, grown throughout the state, includes alfalfa, red clover, and timothy. Oats are used in providing livestock feed and in making foodstuffs. They yield less per acre than corn, but they play an important part in crop rotation on Iowa farms. Other Iowa crops raised in smaller quantities are wheat, vegetables, and apples. The famous red delicious apple was first developed in Iowa.
A2 Livestock
Iowa ranks third among the states in the value of the livestock and livestock products, behind only Texas and California. A significant share of all the hogs marketed in the United States come from Iowa. Many of the cattle, hogs, and sheep processed in Sioux City and other Iowa slaughterhouses were originally shipped to the state from the West and Southwest. Iowa farmers fatten and finish the animals, often on a corn-rich diet, before sending them to market. Dairy cows are also raised on many farms. Iowa ranks among the leading milk-producing states. Most of the milk is used in making butter, cream, and dried milk; only a small fraction of the total is sold fresh or used in making cheese. Eggs, turkeys, and chickens are produced on many farms, some of which specialize in raising poultry.
A3 Patterns of Farming
A pattern of farming found in Iowa, as in much of the Corn Belt, is the crop-and-livestock system. In this system, the production of corn and other crops is used mainly to fatten cattle and hogs for market. While both crops and livestock are raised on farms using this system, revenues are derived largely from the sale of the fattened livestock rather than from the sale of cash crops. However, there are many variations to this system in Iowa. The combinations of livestock and crops differ from place to place and may also change from year to year. There are also many farms devoted exclusively to the production of either livestock or crops. The reasons for these variations are complex and are based on both environmental and economic factors. On the flat, fertile Iowa Prairie, farmers cultivate corn, soybeans, and other field crops. In the hilly parts of southern Iowa, much of the land is used for pasturing beef cattle and for raising hay. Dairy farming predominates in the rugged Driftless section, the only area of the state that is considered to lie outside the Corn Belt.
B Mining
In mineral production, Iowa ranks low among the states. Lead and zinc mining formerly were important in the state, but the lead and zinc deposits have been exhausted. The principal minerals produced are crushed stone, cement, sand and gravel, gypsum, coal, lime, and clays. Iowa is the second leading gypsum-producing state. Most of its output, often used in making plaster, comes from Webster and Des Moines counties. Large coal reserves underlie parts of southern Iowa, but production declined once it was no longer used to fuel locomotives and other consumers switched to oil or natural gas or to cleaner-burning coal from other states. Most of the coal mined is used as fuel in electric power plants.
C Manufacturing
Food processing and the production of industrial machinery, especially farm machinery, are Iowa’s leading industrial activities. In 1996 these two activities accounted for two-fifths of the total income generated by manufacturing in the state. The principal industrial cities are Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo, but industry is scattered in small centers throughout the state. Sioux City, which is a major center for meatpacking, has huge stockyards. Cedar Rapids is known for its breakfast cereals. Farm machinery is manufactured mainly at Des Moines and Davenport. Household appliances are made at Newton, and ball-point pens are produced at Fort Madison. Davenport also has a large aluminum rolling plant. Other Iowa plants make motor vehicle parts, motor homes, wood products, popcorn and other corn products, rotary pumps, air heating equipment, electronic components, and communication equipment.
D Electricity
Of the electricity generated in Iowa in 2005, 84 percent came from steam-driven power plants burning fossil fuels, mainly coal. Another 10 percent came from the state’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center near Cedar Rapids, which began commercial operation in 1975. A small amount, just 2 percent, came from hydroelectric facilities. Most of the power plants are owned by private utilities.
E Transportation
Iowa has a dense network of highways and secondary roads, excellent railroad service between its major cities, and airline connections with the rest of the country.
E1 Waterways
The Mississippi River, navigable for its entire length along the Iowa state line, provides Iowa with a water route to other inland states and to the Gulf of Mexico. The state’s principal river ports are Keokuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Muscatine, Davenport, Clinton, and Dubuque. These ports receive or ship coal, oil, and other raw materials, wood products, and manufactured goods. Council Bluffs and Sioux City are the major Iowa ports on the Missouri River, which is navigable as far upstream as Sioux City.
E2 Railroads
Iowa is crossed by several of the major railroad lines that link Chicago, Illinois, with the western United States. In eastern Iowa the principal lines entering the state pass through Burlington, Davenport, Clinton, and other cities on the Mississippi. In the west the railroads converge on Council Bluffs and Sioux City, the chief crossing points of the Missouri in western Iowa. In 2004 the state had 6,350 km (3,946 mi) of railroad track. Of the tonnage of goods shipped by rail and originating in the state, farm products represented 42 percent, processed foods accounted for another 37 percent, and coal constituted 3 percent.
E3 Highways
Iowa’s 183,419 km (113,971 mi) of public highways are used extensively by farmers and trucking companies to carry Iowa’s farm produce to market or to the nearest railroad stop. The road system forms a grid pattern, and few of the 1,257 km (781 mi) of federal interstate highways that cross the state break this pattern. The roads converge at such major river crossings as Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Davenport, and Dubuque.
E4 Airports
Nearly all of Iowa’s large cities are scheduled airline stops. Council Bluffs, however, is served by Omaha Municipal Airport, which lies across the Missouri River in Nebraska. Davenport is served by a small municipal airport and by the Quad-City Airport, which lies across the Mississippi near Moline, Illinois. In 2007 the state had 8 airports, some of which were private airfields. Des Moines Municipal Airport was the state’s busiest.
F Trade
Many of the retail sales in Iowa are made in the larger cities. Des Moines serves as the major trade center of all of central and east central Iowa. Sioux City’s trading influence extends into Nebraska, and Council Bluffs and southwestern Iowa lie within the commercial orbit of Omaha, Nebraska. People in many Iowa communities along the Mississippi tend to shop in Rock Island and Chicago in Illinois.
A Population Patterns
According to the 2000 national census, Iowa ranked 30th among the states, with a total population of 2,926,324. This was an increase of 5.4 percent from the 1990 population. The average population density was 21 people per sq km (53 per sq mi) in 2006.
Iowa’s rural population has declined continuously since 1900. In 1930 more than 60 percent of the state’s population still lived in rural areas. As Iowa farms became increasingly mechanized, the need for farm labor decreased. Some former farm workers left the state in search of better job opportunities, while others moved to urban areas within Iowa. The population of the state’s cities and towns grew. During the 1950s Iowa became a predominantly urban state for the first time. By 2000 some 61 percent of the state’s total population lived in urban areas. During the 1980s and 1990s most of the large cities grew very little, or even lost population. Suburban areas and towns not far from the large cities were the fastest growing parts of the state.
Whites made up the largest share of the population of Iowa in 2000, with 93.9 percent of the people. Blacks were 2.1 percent of the population, Asians 1.3 percent, Native Americans were 0.3 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 2.4 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 1,009. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 2.8 percent of the people. Most blacks and Asians lived in the larger cities. A few hundred Sac and Fox Native Americans lived on a small reservation near Tama, but many Native Americans also lived in cities, especially Sioux City.
B Principal Cities
Des Moines, the state capital and the largest city in Iowa, had a population in 2006 of 193,886. There were 534,230 inhabitants in the Des Moines metropolitan area. In addition to serving as the seat of government, Des Moines is a major Iowa manufacturing city and a center of the insurance business and of much of the state’s printing and publishing activities. Cedar Rapids, which had a 2006 population of 124,417, is an important food-processing center noted for the manufacture of breakfast cereals. Davenport, the largest of the four Quad Cities bordering the Mississippi River, had a population of 99,514. The city is a railroad and manufacturing center. Sioux City, which had a population of 83,148, serves as a commercial center for northwestern Iowa. It is a major railroad junction and specializes in the manufacture of food products. Waterloo is a manufacturing city with a population of 65,998. It specializes in meat-packing and in the manufacture of farm machinery. Iowa City, with 62,887 inhabitants, is the seat of the University of Iowa. Dubuque, on the Mississippi, was one of the earliest settlements in Iowa. It is an industrial and commercial city with 57,696 inhabitants. Council Bluffs, a major railroad center in southwestern Iowa had a population of 60,271. It lies within the metropolitan area of Omaha, Nebraska.
Another principal city is Ames, the site of Iowa State University. Along the Mississippi River lie the old river ports of Clinton and Burlington. Fort Dodge is the center of Iowa’s gypsum industry, Mason City serves as the principal commercial center of northern Iowa, Ottumwa is a trade center and a manufacturing city, and Cedar Falls is the location of the University of Northern Iowa.
C Religion
The earliest missionaries in what is now Iowa were Roman Catholic priests who came to convert the Native Americans to Christianity in the 18th century. Saint Raphael’s Church, now a cathedral, was the first Roman Catholic church in the Iowa region. It was erected in Dubuque in 1835. By that time, Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians were also active in Iowa. Other early Protestant groups included the Congregationalists, the Disciples of Christ, and the Protestant Episcopalians. Between 1835 and 1850 the Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends, founded Salem and 13 other settlements in Iowa. In 1855 a German religious sect called the Society of True Inspirationists established the communal colony of Amana near Iowa City. During the next ten years they laid out five more communities and purchased a seventh. All seven communities came to be known collectively as the Amana Colonies. Many of the German and Scandinavian immigrants who settled in the state during the second half of the 19th century were Lutherans.
Protestant denominations now account for more than half of all church members in the state. The Methodists are the most numerous Protestant group, followed by the Lutherans. However, the largest single religious denomination is the Roman Catholic church, with about one-fifth of all church members. In addition, there are large Jewish congregations in Sioux City, Des Moines, and other urban areas.
A Education
The first school in Iowa, a private elementary school, was opened by Isaac Galland in 1830 in what is now Lee County. Free, tax-supported schools were authorized for Iowa in 1834, when the area was part of the Michigan Territory. A law providing for the establishment of a state system of free public education was passed by the state legislature in 1858. School attendance was first made compulsory in 1902 and is now required for all children from ages 6 to 16. Vocational and agricultural training are emphasized in many high schools. There is also an extensive program of adult education in Iowa. Some 10 percent of Iowa’s children attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Iowa spent $8,659 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 13.8 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state, 88.9 percent had a high school diploma, compared to an average for the United States of 84.1 percent.
A1 Higher Education
In 2004–2005 Iowa had 19 public and 45 private institutions of higher learning. The oldest public institution is the University of Iowa. Located in Iowa City, it was chartered in 1847 and opened in 1855. Other state-supported schools are Iowa State University, in Ames, chartered as a land-grant college in 1858, and the University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, chartered in 1876 as Iowa State Normal School. The first of many public junior colleges in Iowa was started in Mason City in 1918.
Of the many private schools of higher education in Iowa, most were started by religious denominations. One of the largest is Drake University, which was founded in Des Moines in 1881 by the Disciples of Christ. Iowa Wesleyan College, which was chartered in 1842 as the Mount Pleasant Literary Institute, is regarded as the oldest college in the state. Grinnell College, founded as Iowa College in 1846, was later named after abolitionist minister Josiah Bushnell Grinnell.
B Libraries
The first public library in Iowa was opened at Fairfield in 1853. In 2002 there were 538 tax-supported local public libraries in the state, including large municipal libraries in Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo. Each year the libraries circulate an average of 9.1 books per resident. The largest library in the state is that of the University of Iowa, which houses several fine collections, including one of works by Iowa writers. A comprehensive collection of materials on Iowa’s history is maintained by the State Historical Society of Iowa, in Des Moines.
C Museums
There are museums and art galleries in several of the larger cities in Iowa. Among the principal museums are the Des Moines Art Center, which has a collection of European and American paintings and sculpture; the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which has a permanent collection of the works of renowned American painter Grant Wood; the University of Iowa’s Museum of Natural History, in Iowa City; and the Sanford Museum and Planetarium, in Cherokee. Others include the Davenport Museum of Art; the Grout Museum of History and Science, in Waterloo; the Central Iowa Art Association, in Marshalltown; the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art, in Cedar Falls; the Sioux City Art Center; and the Sioux City Public Museum. There are historical museums in many of the small cities of Iowa, for example the Floyd County Historical Society Museum, in Charles City; the Wayne County Museum, in Corydon; and the Albert W. McCallum Museum and Dorothea Brunson Heritage Home, in Sibley.
D Communications
The first newspaper in what is now Iowa was the Dubuque Visitor, published in 1836 and 1837. The present-day Dubuque Telegraph Herald claims descent from this paper. Iowa’s second oldest continuously published newspaper is the Burlington Hawk Eye, which was established in 1837 as the Wisconsin Territorial Gazette and Burlington Advertiser. In 2002 there were 37 daily newspapers in Iowa. The leading dailies were the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Davenport’s Quad City Times, the Sioux City Journal, and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
Several national periodicals are published in Des Moines, including Better Homes and Gardens and a leading farm journal, Successful Farming. Iowa-born Gardner Cowles, Sr., who acquired the Des Moines Register in 1903, established a publishing empire that was continued by his sons John Cowles and Gardner Cowles, Jr.
Iowa’s first radio station, WSUI, at the University of Iowa, began broadcasting in Iowa City in 1919, and the first commercial station began broadcasting in 1922 in Davenport. The city also was the home of Iowa’s first television station, WOC-TV, which began operations in 1949. In 2002 Iowa had 84 AM radio stations, 124 FM stations, and 21 television stations.
E Music and Theater
Iowans have made important contributions to American music and drama. In 1915 the Iowa-born playwright Susan Glaspell and her husband, George Cram Cook, were instrumental in establishing the famous Provincetown Players, which became one of the most important experimental theater groups in New York City in the 1920s. In 1931 Glaspell was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her play Alison’s House. The popular musical comedies of Meredith Willson include The Music Man (1958), which portrays small-town life in Iowa at the beginning of the 20th century. Among the other Iowans who have achieved fame in the world of music are the noted jazz musician and composer Bix Beiderbecke and the popular bandleader Glenn Miller.
Several larger cities in Iowa have symphony orchestras, as do many colleges. Cornell College in Mount Vernon was the site of the May Music Festival, a well-known music festival held annually from 1899 to 1998. The festival was replaced by Music Mondays, a concert series held on Monday nights throughout the year. There is an active drama center at the University of Iowa, and many Iowa towns and cities support community theaters.
Hunting and fishing are among the most popular forms of outdoor recreation in Iowa. There are many state-owned hunting areas open to the public, and well-stocked lakes, ponds, and streams throughout the state are popular. Camping, hiking, riding, water sports activities, and other active kinds of recreation attract large numbers of people to the state’s numerous parks.
A National Parks
Iowa has sites of considerable historic or archaeological interest. One of the best-known sites is preserved in Effigy Mounds National Monument, in northeastern Iowa. Prehistoric mounds are common from the plains of the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard, but only in this general area were they constructed in an effigy outline of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The monument contains 200 mounds, 29 in the shape of effigies, which were built by Native Americans of the Northeast culture area from 500 bc to ad 1300.
The birthplace and boyhood neighborhood of Herbert Hoover, the 31st United States president, are preserved within Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Also at the site is the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum.
B State Forests
There are four major and six small state forests in Iowa. Shimek Forest is in the southeastern corner of the state. Yellow River Forest includes scattered areas in Allamakee County in the northeast. Holst Forest is in Boone County in central Iowa. Stephens Forest is in the south. All of the forests have facilities for hiking and hunting. There is also a state nursery in Iowa. It is located near Ames, in the central part of the state.
C State Parks
Iowa’s many state parks and recreation areas provide Iowans with a variety of opportunities, such as boating, picnicking, camping, swimming, riding, and the study of nature. In addition, some parks, such as Ledges State Park and Pilot Knob State Park, are popular winter sports areas.
Backbone State Park, established in 1919, is the oldest state park in Iowa. It is enclosed by a loop of the winding Maquoketa River, in eastern Iowa. The park is named for a weathered limestone hump that rises above the surrounding prairie. It forms an outlying part of the Driftless section.
In Pilot Knob State Park, northwest of Mason City, a hill 90 m (300 ft) high affords the visitor a panoramic view of surrounding farmlands. Dolliver Memorial State Park, south of Fort Dodge, encompasses a region of sandstone cliffs, deep ravines, and woodlands. Palisades-Kepler State Park, which is on the Cedar River near Mount Vernon, includes an area of sheer limestone cliffs, or palisades. In Maquoketa Caves State Park, 43 km (27 mi) south of Dubuque, are extensive underground caverns and a natural bridge that arches between two high bluffs. Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, which is on the Des Moines River in southeastern Iowa, is noted as a wildlife sanctuary. Wildcat Den State Park overlooks the Mississippi River between Davenport and Muscatine. In the park are a rustic gristmill and a dam that dates from 1838.
Among the state recreation areas that are also historic sites is Fort Atkinson, on the Turkey River in northeastern Iowa. Within the area are several original buildings and the restored blockhouse of a fort built in 1840.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers also oversees several recreation areas along the state’s rivers.
D Other Places to Visit
In Spillville, near Decorah, is the house where the famous Czech composer Antonín Dvořák lived in the summer of 1893, during his visit to America. In Dubuque is the Old Shot Tower, where many tons of lead shot were made for the Union forces during the Civil War. On Floyd’s Bluff in Sioux City stands the Floyd Monument, an obelisk of white sandstone. The monument marks the burial place of Sergeant Charles Floyd, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Amana, in east central Iowa, is one of seven small picturesque villages of the Amana Society. The villages were established by a German religious sect in the 1850s and early 1860s. They are known for the handcrafted products made there and for their fine restaurants. The Grotto of the Redemption is an ornate religious structure in West Bend, a small community in north central Iowa. On the upper Cedar River near Nashua is a frame church, dating from the 1860s, that is associated with the hymn The Little Brown Church in the Vale. Six covered bridges listed as national historic places and romanticized by a popular book and movie can be found in Madison County.
E Annual Events
Many of Iowa’s outstanding annual events are related to farming. The Iowa State Fair, held in Des Moines each August, is one of the largest agricultural expositions in the United States. A major event in September is the Tri-State Rodeo, held in Fort Madison. The Clay County Fair, one of the largest county fairs in the country, is also held in September. Livestock shows are also held in Waterloo during September, as part of the National Dairy Cattle Congress.
Among Iowa’s other popular events are the Drake University Relays, a major track and field competition for college athletes, which is held in Des Moines in April. In May tulip festivals are held in Orange City and in Pella. During the festivals many residents wear wooden shoes and traditional Dutch costumes. In August the National Old Time Country Music Contest and Festival is held in Avoca, and the National Hobo Convention takes place in Britt. In September a Sac and Fox Indian powwow takes place on the Tama Reservation.
Iowa’s first constitution was adopted in 1846. A second was adopted in 1857. Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by both houses of the state legislature or by a constitutional convention. Proposed amendments must be approved initially by a majority vote in each legislative house in two consecutive sessions of separately elected legislatures. Then each proposed amendment must be approved by a majority of the electorate voting thereon.
A Executive
The governor, the chief executive, is elected to a four-year term. The governor has the power to veto bills passed by the state legislature and items in appropriation bills, but the legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds majority vote of each house. The other elected officials of the executive branch are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor of state, treasurer of state, attorney general, and secretary of agriculture. All serve four-year terms. Most appointments to major state administrative offices are made by the governor, usually with the approval of the senate.
B Legislative
The state legislature, which is called the General Assembly, is made up of a 50-member Senate and a 100-member House of Representatives. State senators serve four-year terms and state representatives serve two-year terms. The General Assembly convenes each January and usually meets for fewer than 100 calendar days. Special sessions of the legislature may be called by the governor or by the General Assembly itself, upon a two-thirds vote in each house.
C Judicial
The supreme court of Iowa is the state’s highest court. The nine justices on the court select one of their number to serve as chief justice. Each of the justices is initially appointed by the governor to an eight-year term from a list of nominees submitted by a nominating commission. At the first judicial election that occurs one year or more after his or her appointment a justice stands for election without opposition on whether or not he or she should serve out the remainder of the term. To be retained in office a justice must receive a majority of the vote in the first election. Iowa also has a court of appeals, with six judges who are appointed and reelected in the same way as the supreme court justices, with six-year terms.
The state is divided into eight judicial districts, each composed of a number of counties. Each district has a number of judges, who are appointed and reelected in the same way as supreme court justices, with six-year terms.
D Local Government
Each of Iowa’s 99 counties is administered by a board of supervisors elected for four-year terms. Other county officials include the sheriff, auditor, clerk of the court, treasurer, recorder, and county attorney, all of whom are elected for four-year terms. Most of Iowa’s municipalities have the mayor and council form of government. Some cities have the council and city manager form of government.
E National Representation
Iowa elects two U.S. senators and five members of the House of Representatives. It casts seven electoral votes in presidential elections.
A The First Iowans
Archaeologists believe that the first Iowans appeared about 12,000 years ago. They were nomads who hunted large animals like the giant bison, woolly mammoth, caribou, and musk ox. These animals lived along the edge of the retreating glaciers that had covered much of North America. As the climate changed and these large animals either became extinct or retreated to cooler climates, the native peoples who remained gradually learned to gather seeds, berries, and roots from their surroundings. Eventually, in addition to their hunting, they learned to plant seeds and care for them with bone tools.
About 1,000 years ago peoples from the south began making their way north along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Corn was their most important crop, as it became for nearly all Native American peoples in North America. What is called the Oneota culture in prehistoric Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri combined the annual hunts of the Plains native peoples with the agriculture of the Eastern Woodlands cultures.
These early farmers were the forerunners of the Iowa or Ioway and Oto peoples, who lived in Iowa in the 1600s when French and English fur traders first appeared in the region. During the next two centuries, new Native American groups entered Iowa as they were displaced by Native Americans to the east. These included the Omaha, Missouri, Dakota (Sioux), Winnebago, the Sac (Sauk) and Mesquaki (whom Europeans have called the Fox), Potawatomi, and Mascouten. At the time, Iowa was inhabited by the Illinois and Iowa tribes, who spoke a Siouan language. These peoples were later expelled from their ancestral domains by the Sac and Mesquaki, peoples of the Algonquian linguistic group, who were forced out of Michigan and Wisconsin in the early 18th century by other Native Americans.
B French Exploration and Early Settlement
The first Europeans in Iowa were the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, who crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa in 1673. On June 17, they stopped briefly at a village of the Illinois. In 1681 and 1682 another French expedition led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, sailed down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle claimed the entire river basin—including Iowa—for France, and named it Louisiana. Only a small number of missionaries, fur traders, and soldiers passed through Iowa during the period the French claimed it.
France’s rivalry with Great Britain in the western hemisphere culminated in battles for the domination of North America, called the French and Indian War (1754-1763). After significant military losses in 1759 and 1760 the French, expecting defeat by the British, secretly transferred to Spain their claim to all land west of the Mississippi to keep it from falling into British hands. Under Spanish control, the first white settler in Iowa, Julien Dubuque, obtained permission in 1788 from the Mesquaki to mine lead near the city that now bears his name. Dubuque hired Mesquakis to work the mines and sold the lead in St. Louis. After Dubuque’s death in 1810, the Mesquaki reclaimed possession of the land and continued the mining.
C United States Territory
After France had reacquired the land from Spain, France sold all of Louisiana to the United States for $15 million in 1803. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new territory, cataloguing plant and animal life, establishing relations with the native inhabitants, and collecting information about their cultures. The Lewis and Clark Expedition sailed up the Missouri River from St. Louis in 1804 and poled along Iowa’s western border for several weeks. Sergeant Charles Floyd died of bilious colic, probably as a result of a ruptured appendix, and was buried near present-day Sioux City, the only man to die on the expedition.
Native peoples controlled Iowa through the first third of the 19th century and carried on an active fur trade with the United States. White settlers were forbidden to cross the Mississippi as long as the native inhabitants had title to the land. In 1804 some Sac killed three white settlers during a war with the Osage. White settlers demanded justice, and the Sac and Mesquaki signed a treaty ceding huge lands to the U.S. government in exchange for an annuity and an immediate bonus payment. A Sac war chief, called Black Hawk, promptly repudiated this agreement, arguing that the Native Americans had signed it after the whites had gotten them drunk. In 1808 the United States built Fort Madison along the Mississippi, where the city by that name stands today, much to the dismay of the Sac and Mesquaki, who resented the military presence. As a result, some Sac and Mesquaki, including Black Hawk, sided with the British in the War of 1812, attacking the fort and forcing U.S. soldiers to abandon and burn it.
By 1830 large numbers of U.S. settlers were living on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River on land that had been the traditional hunting grounds and villages of the Sac. As a solution some lands were set aside for the Sac and Mesquaki along the Iowa River west of the Mississippi River. Black Hawk and his followers, however, returned to their original lands in 1830 and, although he had signed a treaty in 1831 promising to stay on the Iowa side of the river, he ignored the treaty in 1832 and led a group of Sac, including women and children, to the east bank of the Mississippi. The U.S. Army decided to move him and his people by force. The Sac were defeated near the Wisconsin River on July 21, 1832, and on August 3 most of the remaining Sac were killed as they tried to cross the Mississippi into Iowa, in what is called the Bad Axe Massacre. Black Hawk surrendered on August 27. The Sac and Mesquaki were settled soon afterward on a reservation near Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where Black Hawk died, and the peoples were forced to cede 23,310 sq km (9,000 sq mi) of land on the Iowa side of the river. The Native Americans ceded more land during the next 20 years. In 1851 the Dakota gave up their last holdings, in the far northwestern corner of the state, and the Dakota were moved west into Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
A small band of Mesquaki purchased land in Tama County in 1857 with money saved from government payments and the sale of horses. With permission from the Iowa governor, they returned to their tribal homeland and their descendants continue to live there today.
D Statehood
The white population of Iowa increased rapidly from fewer than 100 settlers before 1832. Organized as a U.S. territory in 1838, the region attracted small farmers drawn by reports of fertile land. The same year Robert Lucas, a Democrat and former governor of Ohio, was appointed the first governor of the Iowa Territory. The 1840 census recorded about 40,000 residents, located primarily within 80 km (50 mi) of the Mississippi River. Burlington was the first territorial capital, but as more people settled in the central part of the territory, the capital was moved to Iowa City.
Despite the support of Lucas, Iowa voters, unwilling to bear the cost of state government, twice rejected proposals to become a state. After some argument with the Congress of the United States about the proper location of the state boundaries, however, voters approved a state constitution, and Iowa became the 29th state of the union on December 28, 1846.
E Early Years as a State
The population grew rapidly in the decade following statehood, climbing to 192,214 by 1850. New settlers spread across the newly opened prairies, migrating in large numbers from the Ohio River valley, the states of the Upper South, and Missouri. In addition, millions of immigrants who fled the revolutions and famines in Europe searched for cheap farmland in the Midwest. Germans were the largest single ethnic group in Iowa, followed by the Irish. Agriculture was the primary occupation, and farming was a family enterprise. The birth rate was extremely high. In 1860, when the population was more than triple the number of a decade earlier, nearly one Iowan in two was under the age of ten.
Potatoes, wheat, and corn were the three most important crops in the first decades of statehood. The potatoes were consumed on the farms. Settlers ate some of their wheat, milled the surplus, and sent the flour down the Mississippi to St. Louis and New Orleans to be sold. Corn was fed to livestock and the meat sold. Many sawmills were built along the Mississippi to cut logs from the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota into lumber for the farmers settling on the treeless prairies. Some made fortunes in the lumber industry in the river cities of Dubuque, Clinton, and Davenport.
F The Civil War
Most Iowans did not support slavery, but since the Missouri Compromise in 1820 had forbidden slavery in Iowa and the other territories of the northern plains, the issue did not dominate early Iowa politics. In 1854, however, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which nullified the Missouri Compromise by allowing the settlers to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. Iowans reacted quickly. Protest groups organized to oppose the measure because it meant that slavery might be legal on Iowa’s western border. In 1854 James Grimes, an antislavery member of the Whig Party, was elected governor and helped to organize the antislavery Republican Party in Iowa.
Southwestern Iowa became a center of supplies for antislavery forces in Kansas when fighting broke out there following the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Iowa Quakers were especially active in the movement to abolish slavery. Eastern crusaders on their way to Kansas traveled through Iowa to avoid passing through Missouri (a slave state), and an underground railroad across the southern part of Iowa helped runaway slaves escape. The famous abolitionist John Brown not only used Iowa as a base for some of his antislavery activities, but he trained his band in Iowa for the raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now in West Virginia).
When the Civil War began in 1861, most Iowa troops were sent south into Missouri and the western campaigns. The state supplied more soldiers for the Union Army per capita than any other northern state, about 80,000 Iowans in all. Many Iowa women also contributed to the war effort by taking over the family farms while their husbands and sons were in battle. Annie Wittenmeyer of Keokuk won national recognition for her work providing better diets for the sick and wounded in military hospitals.
G Railroads and Economic Growth
Iowa’s economy grew most rapidly between 1850 and 1880. Commercial farming, supported by an extensive railroad network, drove this growth, particularly after the Civil War. Four railroad companies were given land grants in 1856 equaling about one-ninth of state land to finance construction of lines from the Mississippi to the Missouri rivers. Local governments also issued bonds to encourage railroad officials to build new lines near their towns.
The railroads brought new settlers and manufactured goods from the East and left with crops and livestock from Iowa farms. In the decades after the Civil War, Iowa farmers shifted from wheat to corn, and corn-fed Iowa cattle and hogs supplied meat to the growing cities of the Eastern United States. Refrigerated railroad cars carried meat packed in Sioux City, Waterloo, Dubuque, Ottumwa, Fort Dodge, and Des Moines. Sioux City produced more packed meat than any other city except Chicago, Illinois.
Much of the northern half of Iowa had been unsuitable for farming when white settlers first arrived. Until drainage lines were dug, water saturated much of the land into early summer. As these low-lying lands were drained, the prairies were transformed into a fertile farm region.
In the latter half of the 19th century, coal companies mined the soft coal in many parts of southern and western Iowa to supply fuel for steam-powered engines, homes, and businesses. Some railroad companies operated their own coal mines, but smaller, local companies were also involved in mining. The mines attracted many workers from Wales, Italy, and eastern Europe who lived in makeshift mining camps until the coal had been removed and the operation moved to another location.
One of these coal towns, Buxton in south central Iowa, had a substantial black population: at one time, more than 53 percent. They had been brought to Buxton to work in the mines by the Chicago Northwestern Railway, which could not find enough workers. The town had its own medical and legal professionals, merchants, churches, and a branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Most of the coal around Buxton had been mined by 1915, and after a strike in 1918 the last mine closed and the people began leaving. The demand for Iowa coal decreased sharply in the 1920s after Oklahoma and Texas developed their oil and natural gas fields.
H Farm Problems and Protests
The strong demand for farm products in the United States and Europe during the Civil War lifted crop and livestock prices across the Midwest. Optimistic farmers, trying to increase their output, often went heavily into debt to purchase more land and equipment to take advantage of rising prices. After the war, prices dropped as Southern farms resumed regular production and farmers began to cultivate crops on the Great Plains. Unfortunately, the cost of manufactured goods that farmers needed to buy did not fall. In addition, railroad companies charged farmers much higher rates in the Midwest and West than in the East, where companies competed with each other for freight traffic.
Neither political party seemed interested in addressing the concerns of farmers, who looked elsewhere for help. Many Iowa farmers joined the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as the National Grange, which was founded in 1867 in Washington, D.C., by the American agriculturist Oliver Hudson Kelley. The Grange had begun as a social and educational organization but soon took up political issues. The Iowa legislature passed laws to regulate railroad rates in 1874 and 1876 that were known as the Granger Laws, although the Iowa Grange did not support these particular laws. In Iowa, state regulation of railroads was unsuccessful because the railroad commission was sympathetic to the concerns of railroad companies. However, this attempt did provide a model for federal regulation under the Interstate Commerce Act, passed in 1887.
With the decline of the Grange in the late 1870s, other protest organizations appeared. The Anti-Monopoly Party, the Greenback-Labor Party, and finally the Populist Party all competed for farm votes, but none had permanent success. Iowan James B. Weaver ran for the presidency on the Greenback-Labor ticket in 1880 but did not seriously challenge the Republican candidate James Garfield, even in Weaver’s home state. Weaver again ran for president unsuccessfully as the Populist Party candidate in 1892.
Parties representing farmers wanted the federal government to put more money into circulation, which would make it easier for farmers to repay their debts. They also wanted the government to regulate railroads and other monopolies, which farmers felt had too much control over their lives. Against strong support for the Republican Party before and after the Civil War, however, third-party movements could gain only temporary support in Iowa. The state voted for Ohio Republican William McKinley in the 1896 election over William Jennings Bryan, the presidential candidate for both the Democratic and the Populist parties. Farm protest movements declined as prices for farm products increased after 1900.
I Religion and Education
New settlers were from many different religious backgrounds. Early French traders and missionaries had introduced Catholicism, but it was not until the arrival of German and Irish immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s that the Roman Catholic church saw much growth. American-born arrivals from the Ohio Valley and Upper South were from a number of evangelical Protestant denominations, but missionaries in Iowa itself contributed most to the success of the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. Germans and Scandinavians across the northern part of the state built many Lutheran churches.
In 1846 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, fleeing from persecution in Nauvoo, Illinois, crossed Iowa on the way to what is now Utah. After 1856 European Mormons took the train as far as Iowa City, where they continued west pulling handcarts with their possessions. Some Mormons, disillusioned with the leadership of Brigham Young and opposed to polygyny, the practice of having more than one wife, remained in the Midwest and founded the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which had its headquarters in Lamoni, Iowa, for 39 years.
Several German Pietist groups found their way to Iowa. The Community of True Inspiration bought thousands of acres in eastern Iowa and established seven villages known as the Amana colonies. The society owned the land communally, and members ate from large communal kitchens in each village. The elders ran both economic and religious affairs for the society. The community continued to speak German until after World War I (1914-1918). In 1933 under severe economic pressure, the society ended communal ownership of land and property and reorganized as a company in which each member of the society owned stock. The Amish, followers of a conservative Mennonite faith, also established farms in Iowa and practiced their traditional lifestyle.
Protestant groups especially placed a premium on reading the Bible and encouraged basic literacy for all children. Early settlers supported public schools. One-room schools opened shortly after the arrival of new families on the frontier, and most Iowa children were no more than 3 km (2 mi) from the nearest schoolhouse.
J Social and Political Issues
Iowa politics faced other issues in the post-Civil War era in addition to farmer dissent. Following the war, Iowa became the first state in the nation to grant blacks the right to vote in 1868, which became one argument in favor of granting women the same right. In the early 1870s, the state legislature narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment to extend the vote to women, but the issue did not go away. In 1916 Iowa voters—all men—again narrowly rejected women’s suffrage. The state legislature, however, ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting women the vote when it was proposed by the U.S. Congress, and Iowa women voted in the 1920 elections. Wisconsin-born Carrie Chapman Catt, an Iowa resident, was twice the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association between 1900 and 1919.
The prohibition of alcohol also shaped Iowa politics for more than a century. In 1855 the state legislature prohibited the sale of alcohol, but local governments did not always enforce the laws. In general Democrats opposed government restrictions and the Republican Party was bitterly divided. German, Irish, and other European immigrants resented attempts to regulate beer production and sale while evangelical Protestant churches crusaded against liquor companies. In 1882 prohibition forces won a referendum to prohibit alcohol throughout the state, but the courts struck it down on legal grounds. The state legislature then passed a strict prohibition law, but local towns and cities again enforced it unevenly.
After the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages across the nation in 1919, several rural areas in Iowa earned a reputation for bootlegging, or illegally making and selling alcohol. Most famous for bootlegging was the German town of Templeton in west central Iowa. In 1933 Iowans voted 376,661 to 249,534 to repeal national prohibition. The state legislature then set up a system of state-owned liquor stores where Iowans could buy bottled liquor. Not until the early 1960s did the state permit the sale of liquor by the drink in either bars or restaurants.
K Early 20th-Century Society
Seventy-five percent of Iowans lived in rural areas in 1900, but the farm population declined as new machinery reduced the need for farm labor, and by 1940 only 57 percent of Iowans lived in rural areas.
The prices that farmers paid for manufactured goods began matching the prices that farmers received for their products in the first two decades of the 20th century, and farm life saw some improvements. Many farm neighborhoods organized their own cooperative telephone systems and strung their own telephone lines. Automobiles, particularly the Ford Model T, did much to reduce the isolation of farm families. Improved transportation allowed many more farm children to attend high schools in neighboring towns, and schools were reorganized across the state following World War I. The demand for good roads also rapidly increased in a state where spring thaws and rains frequently made dirt roads nearly impassable for days at a time.
Many Iowa small towns built their own electrical plants in the 1890s, and town homes were the first to enjoy electric lights, appliances, and indoor plumbing. Because of the expense of electrical lines that served rural customers, farm families rarely had electrical service, and only after the creation of the federal Rural Electrification Administration in 1936 did electrical power begin to reach the farms. In some areas, the demand for copper wire in World War II (1939-1945) and the shortage of labor in rural areas postponed rural electrification until the late 1940s.
L World War I and the Great Depression
The beginning of World War I in 1914 deeply divided Iowans. Many communities had strong ties to Germany and Ireland and opposed U.S. involvement on the side of Britain. When the United States entered the fighting in 1917, anti-German feeling created tensions in many areas of the state. Governor William Harding issued a decree that prohibited speaking any foreign language in public.
The demand for food during wartime and government guarantees of price supports pushed farm prices rapidly upward. Even with fewer farm workers, Iowa farmers set record production levels. Pastures were plowed up and replaced with rows of corn, livestock herds were increased, and farmers invested in labor-saving equipment. Government food purchases to feed Europeans kept food prices high.
After the war prices for farmland rapidly increased to more than twice the prewar value. A buying frenzy began, during which rural banks loaned money to prospective buyers. In 1920, however, the federal government withdrew price supports on farm products, and in the summer of that year farm prices suddenly began to decline. Those who had borrowed heavily often found that farm income could no longer pay mortgage payments, and bankruptcies increased across the state. Iowa farm productivity, developed in response to wartime demand, contributed to postwar food surpluses, decreasing prices for farm products and adding to farmers’ economic difficulties.
New organizations quickly arose to represent farmers and their interests. The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) encouraged better farming methods and supported research and education efforts at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). The more radical Farmers’ Union urged farmers not to sell any crops until prices went up. Prices increased slightly during the mid-1920s, but they fell to extremely low levels in the early 1930s, with the beginning of the Great Depression. In 1932 many farmers and small-town merchants abandoned their traditional loyalty to the Republican Party and Iowa-born President Herbert Hoover and voted for Democratic presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won the election.
Roosevelt appointed Iowa farm journalist Henry Agard Wallace as secretary of agriculture. Wallace proposed legislation under which the government would help raise crop prices by paying farmers to decrease production, which would reduce surpluses. Part of the surplus corn crop was the result of a hybrid corn seed that Wallace had helped to develop and promote.
M World War II
During World War II, the war effort eliminated Iowa’s farm surpluses and agricultural production increased greatly during the war. In addition, factories in Waterloo, Dubuque, and Des Moines, which had been producing farm machinery, were converted to make military equipment.
Following the war, improvements in farming methods undermined government programs to control overproduction. The use of fertilizers and pesticides, larger equipment, and more productive seeds increased the harvest per hectare. The number of farm families in the state declined as farms grew larger, and by 1960 the urban population of Iowa was higher than the rural population.
School districts merged because smaller districts had difficulty offering quality education. Returning veterans took advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly called the GI Bill, to attend colleges on government scholarships and attendance at Iowa colleges and universities increased rapidly. The U.S. Congress passed similar acts in 1952 for Korean veterans and in 1966 for peacetime and Vietnam War veterans.
In the 1950s and 1960s the population in Iowa grew at a slower pace than in most other areas of the country. Iowa lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960, in 1970, and again in 1990, falling from eight to five representatives.
N Recent Developments
Economic problems once again plagued Iowa in the 1980s. High prices earned by grain exports in the 1970s encouraged farmers to borrow heavily to purchase better machinery and more land, despite rising interest rates. Farmland, which became steadily more valuable, was used as collateral for these loans. In the early 1980s, crop prices fell, forcing farmers already deeply in debt to borrow more money just to meet their loan payments. The number of farm bankruptcies rose rapidly and foreclosures caused land values to decline, which made it even harder for farmers to borrow money. Between 1978 and 1987, more than 16,000 farms in Iowa went out of business.
Industry, finance, and trade felt the repercussions of these agricultural problems. Manufacturers of farm implements, such as John Deere and Company, with Iowa plants in Waterloo, Ankeny, and Ottumwa, laid off thousands of workers. Local dealers in farm implements and other small-town merchants saw an alarming drop in sales. More than a dozen rural banks failed. In 1985 Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency and temporarily halted farm foreclosures under a statute that had been passed in the 1930s.
The value of farmland rose in 1987 for the first time since 1981, and net farm income increased. Nevertheless, more than one-fifth of Iowa’s farmers reported financial difficulties. A disastrous drought then hit Iowa in 1988 and record floods along the Mississippi and in central Iowa occurred in 1993.
Despite the economic dominance of agriculture, Iowa has developed healthy nonfarm industries since World War II. Des Moines is a leading center for the insurance industry in the United States. The city also has a large printing industry that produces books, magazines, and newspapers. Electrical and household appliance manufacturing plants are located around the state. In 1990 Hy-Vee Food Stores, with headquarters in Chariton and West Des Moines and retail stores throughout the Midwest, was the state’s largest employer. Legal riverboat gambling began in Iowa in 1991 in an attempt to create a larger tourism industry.
The population had become more diverse in the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1970s the Republican governor of Iowa, Robert Ray, worked with churches and other organizations to sponsor Southeast Asian refugees from the Vietnam War. Local sponsors found housing and jobs for the new arrivals and gave them language training. Soon many communities had one or more Vietnamese or Lao families. Immigration from China, Japan, and Middle Eastern countries has also increased, particularly in university communities. Hispanic families have migrated into agriculture industries as well as into professional and other occupations.
The history section of this article was contributed by Thomas Jeffrey Morain.

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