(Ok, you can add corn to this Iowa list, too!)
Many believe that people who live in Iowa (Iowans) are mostly farmers, grow corn, or live in a small town. Nope. Not even close. Although Iowa is mostly farmland (over 90%), less than five percent of the people who live there are farmers. That means more people live in urban areas or cities than in rural areas or small towns.
It’s just like the rumor that Mo and Finchy overheard kids tell other kids in chapter 26. None of it was true.
So let’s figure out what’s real and what’s not about this state. For example, did you know that:
- Iowa ranks among the states with the highest high school graduation rates and literacy rates.
- Researchers at Iowa State University built the first electronic digital computer, which weighed a whopping 750 pounds!
- Over 20 US Olympic athletes have come from Iowa. Among them is Lolo Jones, an Olympic bobsledder and hurdler from Des Moines.
The state is bordered by seven others: Minnesota to the north, Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, and Nebraska and South Dakota to the west. But Iowa’s eastern and western borders are made entirely of water. The Mississippi River forms the border to the east and the Missouri River to the west.
What really happened
- People have lived in Iowa for at least 12,000 years. Before Europeans arrived, the region had long been home to Native Americans tribes, including: the Ioway, Missouria, Otoe, Illini, and Dakota Sioux tribes.
- French explorers arrived in 1673 and claimed the land for France in 1682. For the next hundred years, Spain and France fought over land ownership, calling it French Louisiana or Spanish Louisiana.
- Most of the Europeans who came to Iowa in the 1700s were fur traders and trappers. They traded with the local Native Americans for beaver furs, which were used to make fancy hats in Europe.
- The state was visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804.
- As more settlers moved into this region, the US government told the Sauk and Fox Native American tribes that they would have to move to Indian Territory. In 1832, the Sauk returned to reclaim their land under the leadership of their chief, Black Hawk. That was the start of the Black Hawk War. The Saux fought with the US army troops for control of their land, but eventually surrendered. Over the next several years, the majority of the Native American tribes were pushed out of the state.
- Iowa played a key role in the Underground Railroad. This was a network of people who provided safe places for escaped slaves in southern states to reach freedom in northern states or Canada before the Civil War. Five houses in the state have been preserved.
- After the Indians were pushed out in the 1830s, the population grew. The US Congress established the Territory of Iowa in 1838. In 1846, it was admitted to the Union as the 29th state.
- In the 1850s and 1860s, the completion of five railroads across the state brought major changes. People could now travel every month of the year. Even small towns had six passenger trains a day.
- In 1928, Herbert Hoover was elected the 31st US president, the first from Iowa. Do you know which state did the most presidents live in? New York. Seven presidents were affiliated with the state. Can you name any of them?
Stuff you should know
- In 1869, Arabella Mansfield became the first female lawyer in the US, thanks to Iowa’s Supreme Court ruling that women should be allowed to practice law.
- The state has its very own miniature island city. It’s called Sabula and was created by a damming project in 1938. It’s only one mile long and a quarter mile wide. Approximately 500 people live there.
- Iowa is the largest producer of corn in the United States. One family farm in the state grows enough food and fiber to feed 279 people.
- More men here signed up to fight in the Civil War than in any other state. Out of a population of 600,000, over 76,000 signed up.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird
- Strawberry Point is home to the world’s largest strawberry – a 15-foot-tall fiberglass strawberry. The city was named by soldiers, traders, and railroad workers who enjoyed tons of wild strawberries that grew along the area’s trails and hillsides.
- Iowa is also home to the world’s largest wooden nickel, which measures sixteen feet in diameter; and the world’s largest ball of popcorn, which supposedly weighs about 9,370 pounds. It consists of 900 pounds of popcorn, more than 2,500 pounds of sugar, and 1,400 pounds of syrup. But don’t try to eat or even taste it! It was remade more than a decade ago, in 2009.
- The state has the world’s largest truck stop, complete with its own dentist office for emergencies.
- Perhaps the small town of Hitman has the tiniest park in the country. It sits in the middle of the road, just big enough to fit a bench, water pump, and sign.
Tell me more
- Iowa produces about 10% of the country’s food supply.
- The butterfly stroke in swimming was invented by a coach at the University of Iowa.
- It is the only state name in this country that begins with two vowels.
- A street by the name of Snake Alley in the city of Burlington has been named the most crooked street in the world.
- Although it has a national monument and a national park museum (the Herbert Hoover National Historic site), the state still has no National Park.
- Way back in prehistoric times, 17-foot tall, 5-ton giant sloths used to roam the state’s plains. Do you know what a sloth is?
- Yes, Iowans eat corn. Lots of corn. But they are also known for some popular desserts. Ever hear of Scotcheroos, which are dessert bars with chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter and Rice Krispies? Another is a Snickers salad. It’s a blend of Snickers bars, Granny Smith apples, whipped cream and vanilla pudding. Yes, I have a sweet tooth, which is why I mentioned these fantastic-sounding, and I’ll bet, scrumptious desserts.
Do you live in Iowa? Maybe you have visited the state. If there is more information or any other interesting facts you want to share about this state, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org along with your first name, age and state you live in, and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages!