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home | Locations | Listing of Iowa Recreational Facilit . . .
 

Listing of Iowa Recreational Facilities
Ivan Gillis
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Iowa Recreational Facilities Listing

Iowa is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west. Surrounding states include Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest, and Minnesota to the north.

In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana and Spanish Louisiana; its state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, people laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.

In the latter half of the 20th century, Iowa's agricultural economy made the transition to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green energy production. Iowa is the 26th most extensive in land area and the 30th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city by population is Des Moines. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live. Its nickname is the Hawkeye State.

Iowa is the only state whose east and west borders are formed entirely by rivers.

Iowa has 99 counties, but 100 county seats because Lee County has two. The state capital, Des Moines, is in Polk County.

The explosion in the number of high-density livestock facilities in Iowa has led to increased rural water contamination and a decline in air quality, the factors negatively affecting Iowa's environment include the extensive use of older coal-fired power plants, fertilizer and pesticide runoff from crop production, and diminishment of the Jordan Aquifer.

The first American settlers officially moved to Iowa in June 1833. Primarily, they were families from OhioPennsylvaniaNew YorkIndianaKentucky, and Virginia. On July 4, 1838, the U.S. Congress established the Territory of Iowa. President Martin Van Buren appointed Robert Lucas governor of the territory, which at the time had 22 counties and a population of 23,242.

Almost immediately after achieving territorial status, a clamor arose for statehood. On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state in the Union when President James K. Polk signed Iowa's admission bill into law. Once admitted to the Union, the state's boundary issues resolved, and most of its land purchased from the Indians, Iowa set its direction to development and organized campaigns for settlers and investors, boasting the young frontier state's rich farmlands, fine citizens, free and open society, and good government.

Iowa has a long tradition of state and county fairs. The first and second Iowa State Fairs were held in the more developed eastern part of the state at Fairfield. The first fair was held October 25–27, 1854, at a cost of around $323. Thereafter, the fair moved to locations closer to the center of the state and in 1886 found a permanent home in Des Moines. The State Fair has been held every year since except for the year 1898 due to the Spanish–American War and the World's Fair being held in nearby Omaha, Nebraska. The fair was also a World War II wartime casualty from 1942–1945.

Much of Iowa's support for the Union can be attributed to Samuel J. Kirkwood, its first wartime governor. Of a total population of 675,000, about 116,000 men were subjected to military duty. Iowa contributed proportionately more men to Civil War military service than did any other state, north or south, sending more than 75,000 volunteers to the armed forces, over one-sixth of whom were killed before the Confederates surrendered at Appomattox.

Most fought in the great campaigns in the Mississippi Valley and in the South. Iowa troops fought at Wilson's Creek in MissouriPea Ridge in Arkansas, Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Rossville Gap as well as Vicksburg, Iuka, and Corinth. They served with the Army of the Potomac in Virginia and fought under Union General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. Many died and were buried at Andersonville. They marched on General Nathaniel Banks' ill-starred expedition to the Red River. Twenty-seven Iowans have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, which was first awarded in the Civil War.

Iowa had several brigadier generals and four major generals—Grenville Mellen DodgeSamuel R. CurtisFrancis J. Herron, and Frederick Steele—and saw many of its generals go on to state and national prominence following the war.

After bottoming out in the 1980s, Iowa's economy began to become increasingly less dependent on agriculture, and by the early 21st century was characterized by a mix of manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and insurance services, and government services. The population of Iowa has increased at a faster rate than the U.S. as a whole, and Iowa now has a predominantly urban population. The Iowa Economic Development Authority, created in 2011 has replaced the Iowa Department of Economic Development and its annual reports are a source of economic information.

Another demographic problem for Iowa is the brain drain, in which educated young adults leave the state in search of better prospects in higher education or employment. During the 1990s, Iowa had the second highest exodus rate for single, educated young adults, second only to North Dakota. Significant loss of educated young people contributes to economic stagnation and the loss of services for remaining citizens.

Historically, religious sects and orders who desired to live apart from the rest of society established themselves in Iowa, such as the Amish and Mennonite near Kalona and in other parts of eastern Iowa such as Davis County and Buchanan County. Other religious sects and orders living apart include Quakers around West Branch and Le Grand, German Pietists who founded the Amana Colonies, followers of Transcendental Meditation who founded Maharishi Vedic City, and Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance monks and nuns at the New Melleray and Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbies near Dubuque.

As of 2016 about 6,000 Jews live in Iowa, with about 3000 of them in Des Moines.

Central Iowa

 

Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa and the state's political and economic center. It is home to the Iowa State Capitol, the State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, Drake UniversityDes Moines Art CenterGreater Des Moines Botanical GardenPrincipal Riverwalk, the Iowa State FairTerrace Hill, and the World Food Prize. Nearby attractions include Adventureland and Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino in AltoonaLiving History Farms in UrbandaleTrainland USA in Colfax, and the Iowa Speedway and Valle Drive-In in Newton.

Ames is the home of Iowa State University, the Iowa State Center, and Reiman Gardens.

Boone hosts the biennial Farm Progress Show and is home to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower museum, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, and Ledges State Park.

The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa and is host to a large annual Pow-wow.

The Clint Eastwood movie The Bridges of Madison County, based on the popular novel of the same name, took place and was filmed in Madison County. Also in Madison County is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset.

Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include NewtonIndianolaPellaKnoxvilleMarshalltownPerry, and Story City.

 

 

Eastern Iowa

 

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, which includes the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Old Capitol building. Because of the extraordinary history in the teaching and sponsoring of creative writing that emanated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and related programs, Iowa City was the first American city designated by the United Nations as a "City of Literature" in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch.

The Amana Colonies are a group of settlements of German Pietists comprising seven villages listed as National Historic Landmarks.

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin ConeCedar Rapids is also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Iowa's only National Trust for Historic Preservation Site, Brucemore mansion.

Davenport boasts the Figge Art MuseumRiver Music ExperiencePutnam MuseumDavenport SkybridgeQuad City Symphony OrchestraBallet Quad Cities, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, and the Quad City Air Show, which is the largest airshow in the state.

Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include West LibertyFairfieldBurlingtonMount PleasantFort MadisonLeClaireMount VernonOttumwaWashington, and Wilton.

Along Interstate 80 near Walcott, Iowa lies the world's largest truck stop, Iowa 80.

Western Iowa

 

Some of the most dramatic scenery in Iowa is found in the unique Loess Hills. The Iowa Great Lakes include several resort areas such as Spirit LakeArnolds Park, and the Okoboji Lakes. The Sanford Museum and Planetarium in CherokeeGrotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Arnolds Park Amusement Park (one of the oldest amusement parks in the country) in Arnolds ParkThe Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, and the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge are regional destinations.

Every year in early May, the city of Orange City holds the annual Tulip Festival, a celebration of the strong Dutch heritage in the region.

Sioux City boasts a revitalized downtown, attractions include the Sergeant Floyd MonumentSergeant Floyd River Museum, and the Orpheum Theater.

 

Council Bluffs, the major city of southwest Iowa, sits at the base of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. With three casino resorts, the city also includes such cultural attractions as the Western Hills Trails Center, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the Grenville M. Dodge House, and the Lewis and Clark Monument.

Northwest Iowa is home to some of the largest concentrations of wind turbine farms in the world. Other western communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Storm LakeSpencerLe MarsGlenwoodCarrollAtlanticRed OakDenisonCrestonMount AyrSac City, and Walnut.

 

 

 

Northeast and Northern Iowa

 

The Driftless Area of northeast Iowa has many steep hills and deep valleys, checkered with forest and terraced fields. Effigy Mounds National Monument in Allamakee and Clayton Counties has the largest assemblage of animal-shaped prehistoric mounds in the world.

Waterloo is home of the Grout Museum and is headquarters of the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage AreaCedar Falls is home of the University of Northern Iowa.

Dubuque is a regional tourist destination with attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and the Port of Dubuque.

Dyersville is home to the famed Field of Dreams baseball diamond. Maquoketa Caves State Park, near Maquoketa, contains more caves than any other state park.

Fort Atkinson State Preserve in Fort Atkinson has the remains of an original 1840s Dragoon fortification.

Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include DecorahMcGregorMason CityElkaderGuttenbergAlgonaSpillvilleCharles City, and Independence.

RAGBRAI – the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa – attracts thousands of bicyclists and support personnel. It has crossed the state on various routes each year since 1973. Iowa is home to more than 70 wineries, and hosts five regional wine tasting trails. Many Iowa communities hold farmers' markets during warmer months; these are typically weekly events, but larger cities can host multiple markets.

Iowa is host to at least two business incubators, Iowa State University Research Park and the BioVentures Center at the University of Iowa. The Research Park hosts about 50 companies, among them NewLink Genetics, which develops cancer immunotherapeutics, and the U.S. animal health division of Boehringer Ingelheim, Vetmedica.

Iowa is an alcohol monopoly or Alcoholic beverage control state.

The state gets considerable attention every four years because the Iowa caucus, gatherings of voters to select delegates to the state conventions, is the first presidential caucus in the country. The caucuses, held in January or February of the election year, involve people gathering in homes or public places and choosing their candidates, rather than casting secret ballots as is done in a presidential primary election. Along with the New Hampshire primary the following week, Iowa's caucuses have become the starting points for choosing the two major-party candidates for president. The national and international media give Iowa and New Hampshire extensive attention, which gives Iowa voters leverage. Those who enter the caucus race often expend enormous effort to reach voters in each of Iowa's 99 counties.

The Iowa Supreme Court decided Clark v. The Board of Directors in 1868, ruling that racially segregated "separate but equal" schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before Brown v. Board of Education.

As with racial equality, Iowa was a vanguard in women's rights in the mid-19th century, but was slow to give women the right to vote. In 1847, the University of Iowa became the first public university in the U.S. to admit men and women on an equal basis. In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law, with the Court ruling women may not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa and admitting Arabella A. Mansfield to the practice of law. Several attempts to grant full voting rights to Iowa women were defeated between 1870 and 1919. In 1894 women were given "partial suffrage", which allowed them to vote on issues, but not for candidates. It was not until the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1920 that women had full suffrage in Iowa. Although Iowa supported the Federal Equal Rights Amendment, in 1980 and 1992 Iowa voters rejected an Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution. Iowa did add the word "women" to the Iowa Constitution in 1998. After Amendment, it reads: "All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights – among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness." 

In the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, court decisions in Iowa clarified and expanded citizens' rights. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) confirmed the right of students to express political views. The state's law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity was repealed in June 1976, 27 years before Lawrence v. Texas.

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court decided Varnum v. Brien, holding in a unanimous decision, the state's law forbidding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This made Iowa the third state in the U.S. and first in the Midwest to permit same-sex marriage. (See LGBT rights in Iowa.)

Iowa was the birthplace of U.S. President Herbert Hoover, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, and two first ladiesLou Henry Hoover and Mamie Eisenhower. Other national leaders who lived in Iowa include President Ronald Reagan, President Richard NixonJohn L. LewisHarry HopkinsCarrie Chapman CattJefferson DavisChief Black Hawk, and John Brown.

Five Nobel Prize winners hail from Iowa: Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace PrizeThomas Cech, recipient of the Nobel Prize in ChemistryAlan J. Heeger, also a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; John Mott, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; and Stanley B. Prusiner, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Other notable scientists who worked or were born in Iowa include astronomer and space pioneer James A. Van Allen, ecologist Aldo Leopold, computer pioneer John Vincent Atanasoff, inventor and plant scientist George Washington Carver, geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson, and Intel founder Robert Noyce.

Notable writers, artists, and news personalities from Iowa include Bill BrysonCorey TaylorGeorge GallupSusan GlaspellMauricio LasanskyTomas LasanskyHarry ReasonerPhil Stong, and Grant Wood.

Musicians, actors, and entertainers from Iowa include Tom ArnoldBix BeiderbeckeJohnny CarsonTionne Watkins of TLC (group)Buffalo Bill CodySimon EstesNathan Jonas JordisonCorey TaylorShawn CrahanWilliam FrawleyCharlie HadenAshton KutcherCloris LeachmanGlenn MillerKate MulgrewDonna ReedGeorge ReevesBrandon RouthJean SebergJohn WayneBrooks WheelanAndy WilliamsMeredith Willson, and Elijah Wood.

Olympic gold medal winning athletes from Iowa include Tom BrandsDan GableShawn Johnson, and Cael Sanderson. Iowa athletes inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame include Cap AnsonFred Clarke, and Bob Feller. In college footballJay Berwanger was the first winner of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy in 1935, later renamed the Heisman Trophy and won by Nile Kinnick in 1939. In professional football, Kurt Warnerwas the Super Bowl XXXIV MVP winner and a two-time NFL MVP award winner. Frank Gotch was a World Heavyweight Wrestling ChampionZach Johnson won the 2007 Masters Golf Tournament and the 2015 British Open, and Jeremy Hellickson won the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year award pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. Former WWE Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, is from Davenport, IA.

Other Sites of Interest

 

San Marcos Memories—disappearing North County San Diego, Ca

www.ellengillisart.com

 

Lake San Marcos—Listing of Vendors and Other Items of Interest to LSM residents

www.lsmdirectory.com

 

Silly Service—38 years of Federal Civil Service Overview (A book in progress)

www.ivanegillis.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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