July 24, 2012

Iowa – “The Hawkeye State”

Iowa Map


Just the Facts…


bird – Eastern Goldfinch
flower – Wild Prairie Rose
tree – Northern Red Oak
capital – Des Moines
union – 29th state in 1846
population –  about 3 million




The Basics 

Iowa is part of the breadbasket of America.  With over 90,000 farms, it is sometimes referred to as the “Food Capital of the World!”

Iowa is in the midwest, or the middle of the country sometimes referred to as the “American Heartland.”   It has a wide range of weather, with cold and snowy winters and hot and humid summers.  Iowa is the only state to have rivers provide both its eastern and western borders – the Mississippi River in the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River in the west.  Most of Iowa is covered with gently rolling hills.

America bought the land that is now Iowa nearly 200 years ago, as part of the Louisiana Purchase (remember that President Jefferson bought a lot of land from France in 1803?).


Its Claim to Fame

Iowa has some of the best soil in all of America, thanks to the movement of glaciers a long time ago.  As the glaciers moved over the land, they left sediment behind that formed the rich soil throughout Iowa.  That rich soil allows Iowa to produce a lot of the food that we eat.  Over half of the land in Iowa is farmed with crops.

Iowa’s population grew quickly in the 1800’s, as people from all over Europe sailed to America in search of a new life.  Many of these people were farmers in Germany, Norway, and Denmark, and heard about the promise of “free land” in America.

After our federal government purchased land all the way to the Pacific Ocean, it needed to figure out how to settle it.  Enter the Homestead Act – which provided that the US Government would grant land to farmers that met certain requirements.  He had to build a house, dig a well, and farm the land for 5 years.  If a man can prove that he worked the land for 5 years and he became a citizen of the United States, he would then become the proud owner of that land.  This is how much of Iowa (and the whole Midwest, for that matter, was settled).


What makes it Tick

Iowa is called the “Food Capital of the World” for a reason – it is a leader in the production of hogs, corn, and milk.  But, it does not stop there – many different crops are grown in Iowa – corn, soybeans, and a variety of grains such as oats and wheat.  And a variety of animals are raised in Iowa – pigs, cattle, and chickens, to name a few.

Iowa does not just grow a lot of our food – it also makes that food into many other items in our grocery stores.  Some examples of large food plants in Iowa are Barilla pasta and Quaker oatmeal and cereal.  In addition, the largest popcorn plant is located in Iowa.  Did you have oatmeal this morning for breakfast? Or bacon? Or popcorn last time you went to the movies? Or macaroni and cheese for lunch? Maybe you were eating food that was grown or made in Iowa!


If You Visited

If you visited Iowa, you might attend one of its many state and county fairs (which is a long tradition in Iowa).   The first state fair was held in 1854, and Iowa has had a state fair almost every year since (some years were skipped during wartime). Over 3 million people attend Iowa’s various fairs each year – that is about the same as Iowa’s population!

If you visited Iowa, you might tour the John Deere factory!  Tractors are made in its Waterloo factory, and you can watch them get assembled!  There is also a John Deere Pavilion, which has a lot of fun things for kids to explore – riding in tractor simulators, learning how cotton is made into blue jeans, and much more!


Want to Know More? 

Check our Iowa state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Iowa?   We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Iowa?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Iowa to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Iowa.  Visit these websites to learn more: