What is Iowa Known For?

The skyline of Des Moines, Iowa.
The skyline of Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa is an American state situated in the Midwest. Iowa is bordered by Big Sioux and Missouri rivers to the western side and River Mississippi to the east. Iowa is surrounded by six states: Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Iowa is the thirtieth most populous state in the country with over 3,145,711 residents and a population density of about 54.8 people per square mile. Iowa is the twenty-sixth largest state in the United States which occupies an area of about 56,272.8 sq miles. Des Moines is the largest and capital city of Iowa. It was listed among the safest states in the country.

The first European explorers to Iowa were Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette who came to River Mississippi to document the number of Indian villages in 1673. The region was claimed by the French and made part of their territory until 1763 when they were defeated in the Indian and French War. The French transferred the territory to Spain who granted trading licenses to both British and French traders. The state was part of Spanish Louisiana, and French Louisiana, even the state’s flag, resembles the French flag. After the United States purchased Louisiana, the locals began an agricultural-based economy in Corn Belt.

The U.S. Congress established the territory of Iowa on July 4, 1838, and Robert Lucas became the first governor to the region. The territory of Iowa had over 23,242 residents who lived in their two counties. Iowa gained their statehood and became the twenty-ninth U.S. state on December 28, 1846.

5. Corn, corn, and more corn!

The United States is the leading producer of corn in the world followed by China. The United States managed to produce over 15.1 billion bushels in 2017, with Iowa, the leading producer of corn in the country, providing over 2.7 billion bushels. Over 99% of the corns produced in Iowa are field corns which are used as corn syrup, corn oil, corn starch, or corn cereal. Field corn is the yellow dented corn that is dried and harvested during the fall, and it’s known as ‘’dented corn’’ due to the unique dent that forms on its kernel as it dries. Iowa is the leading producer of ethanol in the country. About 39% of their corn being used to produce over 30% of the total ethanol produced in the United States. In 2014/15, over 21% of their production was used to produce livestock feeds, 9% was exported to other states while 12% went into corn processing in the wet mill industry for industrial usage and food.

4. The Hawkeye State

The official nickname of Iowa is the Hawkeye State. The territorial officials approved the nickname in 1838, 8 years before they attained statehood. The name was popularized by James Edwards (a newspaper publisher) and Judge David Rorer. Edwards changed the name of Burlington’s newspaper to ‘’Hawk-Eye and Iowa-Patriot’’ in honor of the Sauk leader known as chief Black-Hawk. He proposed the name Hawk-Eye in 1838 in commemoration of the Sauk leader. The phrase ‘’Hawkeye’’ was initially applied to the hero of James Cooper’s fictional book titled ‘’the last of the Mohicans’’. The state acquired the name through the efforts of James Edwards and Judge Rorer in 1838 (12 years after Cooper published his book). In 1843, Edward moved his paper to Burlington city and named it Burlington Hawkeye. Edward and Judge Rorer continue publicizing the name until it gained formal approval. The nickname earned a tangible symbol in 1948 when Richard Spencer III hatched the idea of a cartoon character known as Herky the Hawk.

3. Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is one of the biggest and famous state fairs in the country. It is an annual fair that is held every August. The event was first held in October 1854 in Fairfield with a small budget of about $323. The second one was held in Fairfield in 1855, and then it moved from town-to-town for some few years. The fair has been hosted by numerous towns including Cedar Rapids, Keokuk, Clinton, Dubuque, Burlington, Iowa City, Oskaloosa, and Muscatine. The event was moved permanently to its current State in 1878 in Des Moines. It was moved to its present location in 1886, after the Des Moines and the state legislature of Iowa appropriated the funds for the fair. The Iowa State Fair occupies an area of about 0.64sq miles including 0.25sq miles of the campsite. The fairground is filled with vendors and carnival rides during the event. One of the main competitions held in the fair is an agricultural contest. The contest is held for the biggest pigeon, rabbit, bull, ram, and boar. Some of the animals that feature in the event include dogs, Ilamas, goats, horses, dairy cattle, swine, and beef among others.

2. The birthplace of Sliced Bread

Otto Rohwedder, the inventor of sliced bread, was born in 1880 in Davenport, Iowa to Elizabeth and Claus Rohwedder. Otto lived in Davenport until he attained the age of 21 years where he attended the public schools in Davenport and became a jeweler. He worked as a jeweler for some few years before selling his stores to build a bread slicing machine, but his first prototype was not successful. Rohwedder managed to design a device that could slice and wrap the bread in 1927. He sold his first machine to Frank Bench, the owner of Chillicothe Baking Company in 1928 in Missouri. The first sliced bread was sold on July 7, 1928.

1. The Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto of Redemption’s shrine is a religious shrine situated in West Bend, Iowa. The nine caves portray the life of Jesus Christ, and it has the biggest collection of petrifications and minerals in the world. It is the biggest grotto on earth. The Grotto is the world’s most complete manmade collection of petrifications, shells, fossils, and minerals in one place. The price of the minerals and rocks used to build the cave are estimated to be worth about $4,308,000. The shrine is visited by over 100,000 individuals annually. It also includes a museum of semiprecious and precious stones from all over the world, artifacts, and photos about the shrine’s construction.


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