Iowa

Encircle Iowa: Follow Interstate 80 from East Davenport to the capital city of Des Moines to enjoy several historical sites of Iowa. And don’t miss seeing the covered bridges in Madison County.

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1 Hose Company Number 4 Old Firehouse in East Davenport, Iowa

East Davenport, Iowa, is typically called “The Village.” It is a historic tourist attraction along the Mississippi River with a view of Illinois. Among numerous, quaint buildings are the red brick Hose Station No. 4 located near Lindsay Park. The old firehouse was built in 1931 for the volunteer firefighters and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It is now an International Fire Museum.

2301 E 11th St, Davenport, IA 52803
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2 Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, was the fourth of the presidential libraries now managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. It was dedicated in 1962 and expanded to 44,500 square feet thirty years later. Inside is the 90 year story of how a great man helped millions around the word with his relief efforts and assisted millions more in the U.S. during the Great Depression years of 1929 through 1933.

210 Parkside Dr, West Branch, IA 52358
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3 Hoover Grave Site at Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Branch, Iowa

This is the gravesite of a very successful businessman, mining engineer, provider of world relief efforts, head of the U.S. Food Administration, Secretary of Commerce and 31st president: Herbert Hoover. A few yards away are his two-room boyhood home, his father’s blacksmith shop and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. You walk away from this visit with an immense appreciation of what Hoover accomplished during his 90 year life.

210 Parkside Dr, West Branch, IA 52358
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4 Blacksmith Chains Horseshoes of Jesse Hoover Blacksmith in West Branch, Iowa

At the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa, is a reconstructed blacksmith shop of the 31st U.S. President’s father, Jesse Hoover. It resembles those years from 1871 to 1878 when similar chains, horseshoes and implements were used to shoe horses and fix wagons. Frequent demonstrations are provided by volunteer blacksmiths so you can watch the hard labor and flying sparks of this historic trade.

210 Parkside Dr, West Branch, IA 52358
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5 Presidential Seal at Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Branch, Iowa

The presidential seal originated with President Fillmore and has evolved several times since then. It always contained an eagle holding an olive branch (symbolizing peace) and three arrows (for war) plus a shield in the middle. This version, called the Bailey Banks & Biddle representation, was designed in 1916 for President Wilson. It is displayed at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum in West Branch, Iowa. In 1945, the eagle began facing left and 48 stars were added. Two more stars were added in 1960 after Hawaii and Alaska joined the union.

210 Parkside Dr, West Branch, IA 52358
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6 Old Capitol Building on University of Iowa Campus in Iowa City, Iowa

The Old Capitol Building in Iowa City opened in 1842, four years before Iowa became the 29th state. It was the center of government until the capitol moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1857. The Greek Revival building then became the only structure for the University of Iowa until 1863. Today it is a museum and one of five buildings in the campus center called the Pentacrest.


21 N Clinton St, Iowa City, IA 52242
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7 Medicine for the Soul Mural by Anna Sorey in Iowa City, Iowa

This lovely mural in downtown Iowa City near the University of Iowa campus is called “Medicine for the Soul.” The painting by Anna Sorey shows a simple town scene during two seasons: winter and summer. The bricks and stones are part of the mural but the door and staircase are real. The artwork was commissioned by Sandra Navalesi.

207 Iowa Ave, Iowa City, IA 52240
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8 St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Iowa City, Iowa

Italian born Father Samuel Mazzuchelli is credited with establishing over 30 Catholic parishes and building 20 churches in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa between 1830 and 1864. The priest has been declared Venerable, the first step towards becoming a saint. One of those churches is Saint Mary of the Assumption in Iowa City. It was originally called “Of the Visitation” when construction began in 1841. After the church was finished in 1869, the German and Irish immigrants sat on separate sides of the aisle in front of their own countries’ patron saint.

228 E Jefferson St, Iowa City, IA 52245
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9 Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa

Every state capitol built before WWI has a dome. The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines is unique because it has five. The main one rises 275 feet with 23-karat gold leaf over its brick and steel structure. The smaller ones are copper, now green from weathering, with vertical braids of gold. The rest of the structure is sandstone and granite with elegant columns, carvings and arched windows. This exquisite landmark was completed in 1886. Iowa became the 29th state on December 28, 1846.

1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319
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10 Iowa State Capitol Dome in Des Moines, Iowa

When the sky is blue, the gilded dome of Iowa’s State Capitol shines like a second sun over Des Moines. From the building’s second floor, you need to climb 298 steps to reach the golden copula and white belvedere. After resuming normal breathing, walk around the steel fenced walkway for a 360° view of downtown, the river and surrounding neighborhoods.

1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319
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11 Iowa State Capitol Rotunda Dome in Des Moines, Iowa

Lie on the rotunda floor of the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines and look up: this is what you will see. The blue sky is a suspended canvass. Also suspended is the 1922 banner of the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was a fraternal organization of Union Civil War veterans. It ended in 1956 with the last member’s death. This dome is actually a false ceiling. Above it is the exterior brick dome covered in gold leaf. Further up is the cupola. This last feature can only be reached by another staircase.

1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319
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12 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Detail in Des Moines, Iowa

This “Woman with Child” detail is from the 135 foot Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on the state capitol grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The tribute is to the 80,000 Iowans who fought in the Civil War infantry, cavalry, artillery and navy. The memorial was completed in 1896 by sculptor Carl Rohl-Smith after the original designer, Harriet Ketcham, died during the project.

1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319
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13 Iowa State Capitol Building Composite in Des Moines, Iowa

Four photos of Des Moines, Iowa are: The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil War Monument; The 30 foot steel sculpture called “Shattering Silence” by James Ellwanger that recognizes a 1839 Supreme Court ruling to free slaves and give Robert Montgomery his freedom; The 275 foot, 23-karat gold dome of Iowa’s State Capitol built in 1886; and The Holliwell covered bridge that was built in 1880 and was featured in the 1995 movie “The Bridges of Madison County.”

Shattering Silence E Court Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319
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14 Hogback Bridge of Madison County over North River in Winterset, Iowa

The Bridges of Madison County are famous for the 1992 best-selling novel and then the movie three years later. Meryl Streep stared as the lonely Iowa housewife who has a four-day affair with Clint Eastwood as the traveling photographer. The third star was the Roseman Covered Bridge. The timber-truss span provided a scenic and romantic backdrop. It is one of only six remaining in Iowa. This is the Hogback Bridge. It was built over the North River in 1884.

Hogback Covered Bridge, 1879 Hogback Bridge Rd, Winterset, IA 50273
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