Iowa is home to many unique and historic landmarks that stand to remind us of people and events that significantly influenced the course of history – for both our state and nation. People such as John Wayne, Herbert Hoover, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Buffalo Bill are the feature of these places, and the following 15 landmarks are worth the day trip to tour and temporarily travel back in time.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch
Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, was born here on August 10, 1874. The little cottage was built by his father in 1871. Visitors can now tour the entire Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch.
2. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend
Often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is the largest man-made Grotto in the world, and contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location.
3. Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sioux City
The Sergeant Floyd Monument is a monument on the Missouri River at Floyd's Bluff in Sioux City. The monument honors Charles Floyd, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who died on the upstream voyage in 1804 and was buried here. He was the only person to die on the expedition.
4. Julien Dubuque Monument, Dubuque
In 1785, the first European settler in Iowa landed in what would later become Dubuque - his name was Julien Dubuque. After he died, he was buried at the top of a bluff, and this monument was built over his remains.
5. Old Capitol Building, Iowa City
Created in 1839, Iowa City was built on the request of Governor Robert Lucas to house the new capitol building and replace Burlington as the capital city. After 10 years of housing the government in Iowa City, the state decided to move the state capital to Des Moines. When the state government moved to Des Moines in 1857, the Old Capitol Building became the first permanent building owned by the University of Iowa.
6. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Harpers Ferry
Effigy Mounds National Monument, located in Allamakee and Clayton Counties, contains 191 prehistoric Indian mounds, making Effigy Mounds National Monument the largest known concentration of mounds remaining in the United States.
7. Davenport Claim House, Davenport
The Claim House was constructed by George Davenport, son of Colonel George Davenport, in 1832. The home is believed to be the oldest structure in the city, and was Davenport's way of laying claim on the city.
8. General Dodge House, Council Bluffs
This house was constructed in 1869 by General Grenville M. Dodge, a Civil War veteran and one of the greatest railroad builders of all time. General Dodge's involvement in political, financial and military affairs made him an associate of many of the most influential Americans of his time and counsel to presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
9. The Bridges of Madison County
Built in the late 1800s, the wooden covered Bridges of Madison County became famous after the Clint Eastwood movie "The Bridges of Madison County" was released. There were 19 bridges originally built, but now only six remain.
10. Abbie Gardner Cabin, Spirit Lake
The Abbie Garder Cabin in Spirit Lake is the site of the last Native American attack on settlers in Iowa, which occurred in March of 1857. The Sioux killed 35 to 40 settlers in their scattered holdings, took four young women captive, and headed north. The youngest captive, Abbie Gardner, was kept a few months before being ransomed in early summer. She later wrote a book about her experiences and returned home to open up her family's cabin as a museum.
11. Glenn Miller Birthplace, Clarinda
In 1904, famous musician Glenn Miller was born in a house in Clarinda. Miller was a big band musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943 until his plane disappeared over the English Channel in 1944 and he was assumed dead.
12. John Wayne Birthplace, Winterset
Located in Winterset is the little house where John Wayne was born as Marion Robert Morrison in 1907. The home is now a museum where visitors can see the place where the Hollywood film star got his start.
13. Mamie Eisenhower Birthplace, Boone
In 1896, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was born in Boone. The house, which has been restored, is now open as a museum, where visitors can see many Eisenhower heirlooms.
14. Laura Ingalls Wilder Home, Burr Oak
In 1876, the Ingalls family, including Laura, moved to Burr Oak to manage this, the Masters Hotel. The hotel is now a museum open to the public.
15. American Gothic House, Eldon
This gothic revival house in Eldon was immortalized in Grant Wood's epic "American Gothic" painting in 1930. Visitors come from far and wide to take their own American Gothic photo in front of the house.
Sometimes, you can find history right down your street! What are some more historic landmarks in Iowa you would add to the list?