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Facts about Iowa History: 7 Things You Might Not Know

By    |   Sunday, 05 Apr 2015 04:23 PM

Iowa may be a small, mostly rural region of the U.S., but the 29th state admitted to America has an interesting 169-year story to tell. Check out these long-time and recent facts about Iowa that even some Iowans may not know.

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1. Des Moines’ Founding

Des Moines is named after Fort Des Moines, a military post that the U.S. War Department established along the Des Moines River in the 1840s, according to the City of Des Moines’ official website. Des Moines was officially incorporated on September 22, 1851. The next month, the town held its first election, and 25 residents voted to approve the town charter and elect eight city councilmen. The town’s name was abbreviated to Des Moines in 1857. That same year, Des Moines was named Iowa’s state capital.

2. Origin of Iowa Name

The state is named after an American Indian tribe that lived in the territory, according to Iowa Library Services. Iowa was admitted to the Union on December 28, 1846. It was the 29th state to join America.

3. Medal of Honor

An Iowan introduced the congressional bill that authorized the Medal of Honor, America’s utmost military award. Iowa Senator James Wilson Grimes introduced the bill on December 9, 1861, to establish the Medal of Honor for the U.S. Navy. The purpose of the medal was to give the President the power to recognize members of the Navy who displayed “gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during hostile action,” the State of Iowa’s official website said. Both houses of Congress passed the bill, and President Lincoln signed the bill into law. Similar legislation was passed for an Army Medal of Honor in 1862.

4. Head of the Class

Education is a top priority in Iowa, Iowa Library Services said. The graduation rate among high school students is 88 percent, which is 17 percent higher than the national average, and Iowa rates as one of the top five states for average SAT and ACT scores.

5. Golf Mecca

Iowa features the most golf courses per capita among the 50 states, Iowa Library Services said. Golf Link reports there are 441 golf courses throughout Iowa.

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6. Famous People

Numerous celebrities hail from Iowa, according to Biography.com. The list includes Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner; actors Jerry Mathers (“Leave it to Beaver”), Donna Reed (“It’s a Wonderful Life”), Ashton Kutcher, John Wayne, Harriet Nelson, George Reeves, Elijah Wood and Cloris Leachmann; former Congressman and TV actor Fred Grandy; former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; and U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson.

7. Infamous Plane Crash

Clear Lake, Iowa, was the location of the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of 1950s music icons Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson as well as pilot Roger Peterson. The crash took place during a snowstorm on February 3, 1959, following a concert in Clear Lake. The plane had taken off from Mason City Airport but crashed soon after departure.

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Iowa may be a small, mostly rural region of the U.S., but the 29th state admitted to America has an interesting 169-year story to tell. Check out these long-time and recent facts about Iowa that even some Iowans may not know.
facts, iowa, history
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2015-23-05
Sunday, 05 Apr 2015 04:23 PM
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