I’ll be honest, I used to think I knew everything about Iowa, but every day I learn something new about our state – whether it’s intriguing, bizarre, or shocking. The following 11 things fall under all of those categories:
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1. Ozzy bit off a bat's head.
Ozzy "The Prince of Darkness" Osbourne took the Crazy Train to Rabiesville when he bit off a bat's head after a concert in Des Moines. Apparently, he was supposed to be using a prop bat, but somewhere along the way there was a mix-up, and Ozzy was given a real bat.
2. The first computer was invented.
The first automatic electronic digital computer was created at Iowa State University in Ames.
3. And the atomic bomb was made a reality.
Although Iowa didn't technically "invent" the atomic bomb, Iowa State University was essential in the production of the bomb, as they provided the government with massive amounts of uranium.
4. Jessie James robbed the first train in the West.
On July 21, 1873, the notorious Jesse James and his gang robbed the first train in the West, in Adair, Iowa.
5. Bonnie and Clyde robbed a bank in Iowa.
On April 16, 1934, infamous crime couple Bonnie and Clyde robbed the First National Bank in Stuart, Iowa.
6. Iowans created a 380-mile-long road in one hour.
In 1910, a total of 10,000 people in Iowa constructed a 380-mile road (the River to River Road) in one hour. The people lined up, and simultaneously worked to create the road, on the request of the governor at the time.
7. Rocky Marciano died in Iowa.
Rocky Marciano, who some say was the inspiration for the iconic movie series, "Rocky Balboa," died in Iowa. In life, Rocky was an undefeated professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion from 1952 to 1956. He is the only person to hold the heavyweight title without a bout tie or defeat during his entire career. Rocky retired with a record of 49 - 0, which remains unbeaten to this day. On August 31, 1969, the eve of his 46th birthday, Rocky was flying in a private plane outside of Newton. There was some bad weather, and the pilot tried to set the plane down in a field, but hit a tree, killing everyone on board.
8. Iowa and Missouri went to war with each other.
Iowa and Missouri once went to war with each other. The Honey War was a bloodless dispute over territory which led to the militias facing each other, one Missouri sheriff being arrested for collecting taxes in Iowa, and three trees containing bee hives being cut down.
9. Iowa was (almost) the site of the dinosaur extinction.
The Manson Crater near Manson was originally thought to have been the asteroid impact that caused the dinosaur extinction. The crater was later found to have hit 74 million years ago, which was before the extinction.
10. An Iowa town was terrorized by the mysterious "Visitor of Van Meter."
It all began in 1903, when several of Van Meter’s most well respected citizens reported seeing a half human, half animal creature with enormous bat wings flying about the town. The townsfolk said it traveled at rates of speed they'd never seen, let off a powerful stench and shot a blinding light from its horned head. Though they shot their guns at it, the creature was unaffected. The creature had been seen by many reputable townspeople, including the town doctor and bank cashier, the local high school teacher and countless other people. The creature, which the townsfolk thought to be a demon, terrorized the town for several days until a group of citizens got together with their guns, and chased the creature into a nearby mine, where it disappeared, never to be seen again.
11. A University of Iowa professor conducted the controversial "Monster Study."
In 1939, University of Iowa professor Wendell Johnson conducted what would later be called the "Monster Study." The study, which was conducted on 22 orphan children in Davenport, aimed to induce stuttering in healthy children and see if stuttering could be stopped in other children. Half of the children received positive speech therapy, praising the fluency of their speech, and the other half, negative speech therapy, belittling the children for speech imperfections. Many of the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech problems for the rest of their lives. Eventually in 2001, the University of Iowa released an official apology, and in 2007, six of the orphans were offered $925,000 in damages.
Which of these surprised you the most? Know of any more shocking things that happened in Iowa? Share your thoughts in the comments section!