There are numerous Iowa facts that are bound to feed your curiosity.
The state has more to it than its population, size, and weather, so if you’re looking for the best fun facts about Iowa, you’ve come to the right place!
The Hawkeye State has many tidbits that can fuel your school project, impress your friends, and convince you to move there.
In today’s article, I’ll talk about some interesting facts about Iowa that will teach you more than you bargained for and show you that the state is one of the most fascinating places in America!
26 Iowa Facts: Fun Facts About Iowa To Read Now
1. It Is The Hawkeye State
This might be one of the Iowa facts you already know, but this unique nickname has a distinguishing history.
Most states are named after their produce or wildlife, but the Hawkeye State is called that because of two people: Chief Black Hawk and Stephen Sumner Phelps.
Judge David Rorer was on a mission to create a notable nickname that would paint Iowa in a positive light, so he arranged for the local newspaper to be renamed The Burlington Hawkeye after his friend, a famous Sauk Chief, and a fur trader who helped bring peace to the Native American tribes in the Black Hawk War in 1832.
The name ‘Hawkeye’ was also popularized by a famous novel at the time, The Last of the Mohicans, which helped with gaining acceptance for the state’s nickname.
Rorer’s efforts were successful, and The Hawkeye State became official in 1838 after being approved by territorial officials.
2. Iowa Is Surrounded By Six States
The state is central and lies in the Midwest region of the map.
It is encircled by Minnesota and Wisconsin to the north and northeast, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west and northwest, Missouri to the south, and Illinois to the east.
The state is also bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River to the west.
3. Iowa Is The 29th State
The state was originally home to Paleo-Americans as early as 14,000 years ago and was home to Native Americans for thousands of years until their land became disrupted in the 17th century when Euro-American people became interested in colonizing the territory.
Eventually, the French ruled the territory, and the United States purchased the land from them in 1803. Iowa was segmented in 1838 and became the 29th State on December 28, 1846.
4. The State Leads In Corn Production
The corniest of fun facts about Iowa is this one right here!
Out of the 13.7 billion corn bushels grown in the United States yearly, 2.5 billion come from the Hawkeye State, which means it produces 18.25% of it all, helping the country as the world’s leading corn producer.
The state has the most fertile topsoil in the world, paired with many top-tier farmers.
5. It Is Home Of The American Gothic Painting
One of the world’s most significant oil paintings is the one painted by Grant Wood, fully titled ‘American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa.’
It’s better known as American Gothic, and you will find countless parodies like the one from The Simpsons!
The painting features a straight-faced man holding a pitchfork and a woman in a colonial apron with the Gothic-style Dibble House in the background.
It’s easy to associate this painting with America, offering Iowa a noteworthy representation! You can visit the Dibble House or view the artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago.
6. About 85% Of The State Is Farmland
One of the most shocking Iowa facts is the sheer amount of farmland that covers the state. 30.5 million acres of the state are dedicated to farming, including crops and cattle, bringing the total land coverage to over 85%!
The Hawkeye State has 84,900 farms with an average size of 359 acres. That makes the average farm as big as roughly 272 American football fields!
7. Pigs Outnumber People
Not many states can say that pigs overrun people at a ratio of 8-to-one!
One of the Iowa fun facts is that the state has 23.4 million hogs, nearly the same as Sri Lanka’s population of 21.89 million people – a country’s worth of pigs is undoubtedly enough to impress anyone!
As America’s number one producer, you best believe the pork in The Hawkeye State is ultra tasty.
8. The State Had The First Electronic Computer
Although some technological historians dispute this, Iowa State College is still the birthplace of the world’s first electronic digital computer.
In 1937, John Atanasoff and Cliff Berry made a desk-sized computer, named the ABC Computer, that could solve linear equations.
The device wasn’t programmable yet, and the technology only developed further in 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania, where the ENIAC was made and dubbed the actual first electronic digital computer.
9. The State Has Low-Cost Living
The most pleasing of Iowa facts is that the state has low-cost living, making it a sound financial choice for inter-state movers.
If you want comfortable living expenses, housing in Iowa is 28% below America’s average.
It would cost a family of four around $3,595 a month for all living needs. The only downsides are the freezing winters and lack of natural escapes.
10. It Is Home Of The World Food Prize Foundation
The World Food Prize Foundation is situated in Des Moines, where the prize winners receive their awards.
Invented by the same person who started The Nobel Peace Prize, this honor is granted to someone who advances food quality, quantity, or availability for worldwide benefit.
It began in 1987 and has been awarding do-gooders every year since then.
11. It Has The World’s Largest Truck Stop
If you’re a trucker or passer-by in Walcott, you can take a break at the multi-use truck stop. Besides boring old fuel, do you fancy a haircut or shower?
Do you want to visit a chiropractor, dentist, movie theater, gym, library, or museum?
You can take a break at Iowa 80 Truckstop, the world’s largest truck stop, and do all these things! They call it the Disneyland for truckers, and it’s easy to see why.
12. The Name Is Native American
Iowa facts would be incomplete without uncovering the deeper meaning of the state’s name. The typical belief is that Iowa means “The Beautiful Land.”
The history of the tribe and naming is widely speculated, but generally, the name came from the Ioway tribe that lived by a river named after them, the Iowa River. In honor of Native American history, it became the state’s name.
13. It Is The Birthplace Of The ‘Sliced Bread’ Saying
You may have heard the phrase, ‘best thing since sliced bread,” but did you know Iowa is where it all started?
Otto Frederick Rohwedder from Davenport was tired of slicing bread inconsistently and decided to make a plan.
In 1912, he made a slicing machine prototype, but it was destroyed in a fire. This didn’t stop him, and he made a new one in 1928, and the world never looked back!
This leads to the question: How many best things have happened since 1928?
14. It Hosts A Record-Breaking Cycling Event
If you want Iowa facts to get you moving, it’s time to sign up for the RAGBRAI bicycle event! RAGBRAI is a monumental bicycle tour that is the world’s oldest, longest, and biggest!
It started in 1973 and is a non-competitive cycle along the western to eastern border, with as many as 60,000 riders participating.
The tour is around 467.9 miles and takes place over a week.
15. The State Has A Strong History of Women’s Rights.
Iowa has a deep history of supporting women’s rights. Arabella Mansfield made US history when she became the country’s first-ever female lawyer in 1869, which was the first step towards equal education and pay.
In 1922, Ola Babcock Miller was chosen as an Iowa House of Representatives – the first woman to serve in the Iowa State Legislature.
In 2014, Joni Ernst was the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate. To this day, the state works towards empowering women.
16. Iowa Has Many Haunted Places
If you’re a thrill seeker, The Hawkeye State has some haunting places to visit that may leave you a little spooked.
These eerie locations include Edinburgh Manor and Independence State Mental Health Institute, old psychiatric facilities, and the Mason House Inn – a common paranormal interest.
At night, you can also find more creepiness at Stony Hollow Road, where Lucinda (a heartbroken woman who jumped from the bridge) haunts drivers with unnerving cries and may lay a rose at your feet, bringing upon an ill fate.
17. It Is The Third State To Grant Same-Sex Marriages
The most prideful of Iowa facts is their eventual grant for same-sex marriage.
Although Massachusetts and Connecticut were first, on April 3, 2009, Iowa’s court ruled in favor of the cause.
This change was initiated by six same-sex couples who filed lawsuits against the state for rejected marriage licenses, which were ultimately approved.
18. It Is The Birthplace Of Captain Kirk
Adding to some already mentioned Iowa fun facts is this one: The Hawkeye State is the ‘future’ birthplace of Star Trek’s beloved character James T. Kirk.
Fans are so excited about his March 22 birthdate that there’s a monument in Riverside – although the date has the year 2228, and his canon birth year is 2223.
The monument was erected before the date changed, but Riverside still wears the badge loud and proud, even announcing Captain Kirk on its website.
19. The State Is Home Of The World’s Largest Nickel
For money-related Iowa facts, the state is home to the biggest nickel on the planet! Jim Glasgow made this tourist attraction out of southern yellow pine wood.
It’s 16 feet in diameter, weighs around 4000 pounds, and took six months to complete. Feel free to visit it and snap a momentous selfie!
20. The State Has An Island
Being a central state without any sea in sight, you’d be surprised to know that Iowa has its own little island called Sabula, fondly known as ‘Island City.’
Sabula is situated in Jackson County on the Mississippi River. The island is technically artificial because it only formed in the 1930s when the lock and dam system was constructed.
21. Iowa Has High Literacy Rates
The state is home to some seriously smart people, and 85% of the population is literate.
The rate is slightly lower due to COVID-19 but will surely rise again through the state’s continuous efforts.
The University of Iowa is known for many literary advancements and is seen as a leader in creative writing studies – and has the oldest creative writing program in America.
The university also has over 40 Pulitzer Prize winners for their achievements in literature.
22. About 62% Of The State’s Power Is Wind Generated
Some green-energy-related Iowa facts are in order, as the state has one of the highest wind-energy statistics around.
62% of the state was powered by wind in 2022, with the expectation of an increase in the years to come. This places the state second in wind energy production behind Texas.
23. It Was Home To Ice Age Mammals
Once upon a time, in the days of the Ice Age, woolly mammoths roamed the land of Iowa.
One of this giant creature’s most significant bone discoveries was discovered in 2010 in Mahaska County, where you can now view them at Educational Learning Center, Oskaloosa.
That’s not all! In the same period as mammoths, giant sloths roamed the state. They were 10 feet tall and weighed up to 6,000 pounds!
The state has a rich history of these animals, along with giant beavers, camels, and other Ice-Age mammals.
24. Donald Trump Sued The State
For a more recent set of Iowa facts, the ex-president didn’t take kindly to Iowa counties issuing absentee ballot request forms too early in 2020.
The lawsuit was filed against Johnson and Linn counties. There isn’t any news concerning what came of the cases – but they were issued!
25. It Has Some Weird Laws
Some interesting facts about Iowa are the absurd laws the state has!
If you’re a man with a mustache, you may not kiss a lady in public, and if you can kiss someone, it’s illegal for it to last more than five minutes!
In Cedar Rapids, palm reading is against the law, and in Ottumwa, men may not wink at an unknown woman.
26. Bonnie And Clyde Committed Crime In Iowa
On April 16, 1934, the troublesome duo decided to rob First National Bank in Stuart, one of their last few heists, before their lives came to an end five weeks later in Louisiana.
Quick Fun Facts About Iowa
In 2008, Iowa City became the world’s third United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) City of Literature, following Edinburgh in Scotland and Melbourne in Australia.
The 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, was a West Branch native and the first president born west of the Mississippi.
The nation’s first state veterinary medicine school was established at Iowa State University in 1879.
That’s it for today! I sincerely hope you had a good time reading these fun facts about Iowa! Wanna help me out? Be sure to share this article on your social media. Oh, and if you know some fun Iowa facts, please drop them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!
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