Think you know everything about Iowa? There’s always more to discover! Even if you’ve lived here all your life, we’re betting at least one of these 13 fun facts about Iowa will probably surprise you.
Iowa’s history is rich and fascinating, and there are so many interesting contemporary traditions and trends here. Our state is so much more dynamic than people give it credit for!
1. Iowa (possibly) means "beautiful."
This one's actually got a bit of controversy surrounding it! Some sources believe that the state got its name from the Ioway people, a native tribe of the area. Their chief, White Cloud, is shown above. An early pioneer noted that upon seeing the land, Native Americans started saying "Iowa, Iowa, Iowa," which meant "beautiful, beautiful, beautiful." However, others claim that the name was derived from "Ah-hee-oo-ba," meaning "sleepy ones."
Whatever the actual source, we can't help but agree that Iowa is beautiful! This Midwestern state is home to so many of the rolling plains and grain fields that people associate with classic American beauty. Land of the free, home of the fields.
2. Hogs outnumber people 4 to 1.
With 3 million people in the state, that means Iowa is home to around 12 million hogs. Iowa raises nearly a third of U.S. hogs and, as a result, is the nation's number one producer of pork. Livestock has long been one of the biggest job makers in Iowa and the pork industry is responsible for many people's livelihoods.
3. The Red Delicious apple originated in Peru, Iowa.
The Red Delicious apple originated at an orchard in 1880 and was known as "a round, blushed yellow fruit of surpassing sweetness." The modern-day Red Delicious apple is far different from the original apple, but we can still trace its roots to good old Iowa. Until 2018, the Red Delicious was the most produced cultivar in the United States.
4. Iowa has one of the highest literacy rates in the country.
Iowa's literacy rate is over 90%, making it one of the highest in the United States. Iowa also consistently ranks among the highest states in ACT and SAT scores. Whatever they're doing in public schools in Iowa, it's working.
5. Elk Horn is the largest Danish rural settlement in the United States.
Elk Horn is home to The Danish Immigrant Museum and is known as a center of Danish ethnicity in the United States. Elk Horn is also home to the only authentic, working Danish windmill in the United States. If you're looking for a dash of European culture, you can find it right in the heart of Iowa.
6. Iowa is home to the National Hobo Convention.
The town of Britt is home to the National Hobo Convention as well as the Hobo Museum which is the only museum that dedicates itself to the hobo way of life. The convention includes a parade, entertainment, arts and crafts, and historical information about the hobo way of life.
7. Iowa has an island.
That's right: even though we're landlocked, we've got our own island! Sabula is located on the Mississippi River. It's home to about 560 people. Sabula is a wonderful place to plan a vacation.
8. Iowa has one of the highest rates of motorcycle ownership in the nation.
We generally rank in the top five for the highest rates of motorcycle ownership and have over five motorcycles per 100,000 residents. Our expansive land and lengthy roadways lend themselves to relaxing motorcycle rides!
9. Iowa has produced 20 Olympic athletes.
From Shawn Johnson to Lolo Jones to Dan Gable, Iowa has produced 20 Olympic athletes. The state takes athletics very seriously, providing plenty of opportunities for athletically-inclined kids to explore their talents.
10. The first female lawyer was from Iowa.
Arabella Mansfield of Burlington became the first female lawyer in the United States in 1869. She is shown in the bottom center of the picture above. She was also a college educator and administrator. Talk about trailblazing!
11. Iowa is the largest producer of pork, corn and eggs in the nation.
It's not surprising that Iowa is the number one producer of pork and corn, but Iowa is also among the largest producers of eggs and ethanol, as well as wind energy. The country would be lost without this state!
12. Depending on your definition, the first modern computer was created in Iowa.
The Atanasoff-Berry computer, created at Iowa State University in 1937, was the first automatic electronic digital computer. It turns out Iowa is a pioneer of electronics as well as agriculture!
13. Iowa used to have giant sloths.
About 10,000 years ago, there were giant sloths in Iowa. These giant sloths grew to be up to 17 feet tall and weighed a whopping five tons! They can now be found on exhibit at the Museum of Natural History at the University of Iowa.
What are some more weird facts about Iowa? Is there anything on this list you didn’t know? Share with us in the comments section!
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