54 Interesting Facts About Iowa

Last updated on September 7th, 2023

Iowa is the 31st most populous and the 26th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the midwestern United States. The state attained statehood on December 28, 1846, becoming the 29th state to join the union. Its six bordering states are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Iowa (nicknamed: Hawkeye State) has 99 counties. The state’s capital is Des Moines. The postal abbreviation for Iowa is IA. People who live in Iowa or who come from Iowa are referred to as Iowans and upon occasion, they are referred to as Hawkeyes. With these facts about Iowa, let us learn more about its history, people, geography, economy, culture, nature and wildlife and much more. 

Interesting facts about Iowa

1. It’s the Home of the World’s Largest Bullhead Fish Statue

The statue is 12 feet long. It sits on a crystal lake which has several hundred real bullhead fish at the bottom. It’s such a breath-taking view for you and your family.[18]

Iowa on the map


2. Hogs Out-number the Human Population in Iowa!

Iowa sets the record of the highest number of pigs in the USA. According to the Department of Agriculture, there were 73.5 million in June 2018. About 33.2 million pig babies were born between March and May 2018. It was the highest number since 1970.

3. It Inspired the Americans Gothic Drawing

It’s the home to the house that Grant Wood painted back in his studio of the Americans Gothic. Grant wood most well-known work was inspired by a farmer and his wife standing outside their white story house.

An illustrative image of strawberries.

4. The Worlds Largest Strawberry Live Here

It’s a fiberglass statue of a strawberry. Its located on the strawberry point building. It’s not edible but is a perfect strawberry marketing strategy.[17]

5. Iowa is Home to Several Celebrities

The famous investor, model, and actor featuring in several romantic movies and comedies was born and brought up in Iowa. John Wayne was the son of a pharmacist and grew up to become one of Hollywood’s most famous movie stars. He was born in Winterset, Iowa. Famous baseballer Bob Feller was an Iowa’s farm boy who raised to greatness through the Cleveland Indians in the era of Golden age baseball.

Corn From Iowa

6. Iowa is the Largest Corn Producer in America

Ninety-two percent of Iowa’s land is covered with farms. The best crop is grown to be corn. Corn production provides income for Iowa’s economy. According to the statistics, they say the state produces even more corn than some countries, like Mexico. And it is 2nd to Illinois in soybean production.

7. Register for the RAGBRAI

The longest, largest and oldest recreational bicycle touring event in the world is held here annually since 1973. Riders ride across Iowa or RAGBRAI hence the name RAGBRAI. Participants come from all the 50 states and other continents.[16]

Bread in a Bread Slicer.
Bread in a Bread Slicer.

8. First Bread, the Slicing Machine, was Invented here

Bread is one of the world’s oldest prepared foods. However, sliced bread has been around for less than a century. The first bread slicing machine was invented in Iowa by Otto Frederick Rohwedder. The first automatically sliced loaves were produced on July 6, 1928.[15]

9. Rivers on East and West

Among other Iowa facts, this is the one you can share with your friends and impress them with your knowledge about the geography of Iowa. Iowa is the only state bordered by two navigable rivers; the Missouri River to the west and the Mississippi River to the east. The eastern and the western borders of the state are completely formed by the rivers.

Iowa on the U.S. map.
Iowa (in red) on the map with bordering states. Iowa facts for students.

10. The Shrine of Grotto redemption

It’s a religious shrine in West Bend Iowa. It has nine caves that portray the life of Jesus. It’s the biggest grotto in the world made of petrifications, shells, and minerals. The largest man-made Grotto in the world, the Grotto contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location![14]

11. There is only one town island in Iowa

Sabula town in Jackson County, Iowa, is located on an island in Mississippi river. It’s the only island town here. With an area of 1.26 sq mi, approximately six hundred people call it home. Like an island getaway, it is an incredible hideout between the Mississippi River and the eastern border. People often refer to it as the Island City. Sabula did not start as an island. It was always connected to Iowa until Lock and Dam was created in 1939 to link Clinton, Iowa and Fulton, Illinois. The dam submerged the lowland on the west side of town thus separating Sabula from the rest.[13]

12. One Of The Biggest State Fair is held in Iowa

Since 1854 October, the states of the USA have the annual fair in various cities. It was permanently scheduled to happen in Des Moines, Iowa’s capital. The fair is held over 11 days every year in August and it attracts more than a million visitors. It is the largest event in the entire state and celebrates Iowa’s agriculture, industry, entertainment, and achievement.[11,12]

Pomme horse exercise athlete
Pomme horse exercise athlete gymnast to competition in gymnastics. Facts about Iowa.

13. Iowa for Best Gymnastics Places

The world best-renowned dance and gymnastics school is situated in Iowa. If you are looking for an athletes institute with all modern facilities and training, this is where to go.[10]

14. Iowa has the Unique Name in the US

Iowa is the only state name that starts with two vowels! You can hardly pronounce it on your first trial. Isn’t this a unique and interesting fact about Iowa.

15. The wooden nickel.

You probably never seen a wooden nickel, but here in Iowa, on a farm, is a 12-inch world’s largest wooden Nickel.[9]

16. Coldwater Cave

It’s the largest cave in Iowa. It measures approximately sixteen miles and has only one underwater entrance at the base of its 100-foot cliff. It’s a natural water cave worth visiting.

17. Elwood the Tallest Concrete Gnome

Elwood is the worlds tallest Gnome. He stands in a garden 15 feet tall from his boots to his telltales pointy hat and weighs at least 3500 pounds. He may not be the tallest Gnome, but he is sure is the tallest concrete Gnome.[3]

18. One of the Largest Trail Bridge

A 25-mile trail bridge winds across five of Iowa towns. It crosses from Woodward to Ankeny across Des Moines river valley. The bridge is half a mile long, and it’s a hundred and thirty feet high. It is considered to be among the largest trail bridges in the world.[2]

Wind turbines.
Wind turbines. Interesting facts about Iowa. 

19. Twenty-five Percent is Generated by Wind Power

In terms of wind power capacity installed, Iowa is the third in the nation after Texas (23,262 MW) and Oklahoma (7,495 MW). However, Iowa leads the nation in per-capita wind power capacity with 2,324 MW/million people.[1]

20. The Day The Music Died

The plane crash of 1959 that caused the death of famous singers and songwriters Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP happened near clear lake Iowa.[20]

21. There are several natural lakes in Iowa

Iowa is the mother of the famous Spirit Lake, the biggest glacier lake in the state. West Okoboji and East Okoboji lakes the deepest lake in the states. They are recreational centers since they are ice skating spots in winter and fishing and boat-riding venues in summer. However, the majority of the lakes in the state are man-made.

Matchstick Marvels Museum.
Matchstick Marvels version of the International Space Station previously on display at NASA’s Houston Space Center, courtesy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, 2015. Facts about Iowa. 

22. Matchstick Marvels Museum

For almost four decades, Patrick Acton form Gladbrook has been creating complex scale models using wooden matchsticks. Every model is made up of two-inch matchsticks in hundreds of thousands. These matchsticks have been glued, warped, and shaped together. So far there are about 70 excellent designs stretching from Wright Brothers’ Flyer to Notre Dame Cathedral. The innovative creations are displayed at Matchstick Marvels Museum. They are open for public viewing- about 20 large-scale models.

23. World’s first electronic digital computer

Professor John Atanasoff and student Clifford Berry (both USA) created the world’s first electronic digital computer – the Atanasoff–Berry Computer (ABC) – at Iowa State University, USA, between 1937 and 1942.[19]

24. Most of Iowa’s citizens are Christians

If you are thinking of moving to Iowa and are Christian, worry not because there are enough churches in Iowa. Eighty-three percent of the citizens is either protestants or Catholics. Other religions are also there but not as many.[8]

The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque
The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque (1893), a funicular railway. A wealthy resident disliked the fact that he couldn’t make it up the main bluff in Dubuque on his lunch break to take a nap, so he built this railway to speed things up. Image credit – Teemu008.

25. World’s Steepest and Shortest Elevator

The 4th street of Dubuque is the Fenelon Place Elevator, dubbed the shortest, steepest scenic railway. With an inclination of 296 feet up, it takes passengers to Fenelon Place from Fourth Street through 189 feet. It offers spectacular views of three states, Mississippi River, and the entire Dubuque central business district.

26. Scranton is the oldest water tower

It’s the oldest water tower in Iowa and one of the top ten oldest water towers in the united states. It was constructed in 1897, and it’s still functional to date![7]

27. 31st president of USA was born and brought up in Iowa

Herbert Clark Hoover was president of the united states from 1929 to 1933 and was born in Iowa. This had been a period of the great depression. Henry Wallace, who was the 33rd vice president, was also born in Iowa.[6]


28. Iowa is a place of museums and aquariums

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, National Czech & Slovak Museum & library and African American Museum are some of the prehistoric sites in Iowa. They contain all the history and present facts of Iowa.

29. Southeast Iowa is a hub for transcendental meditation

One of Iowa’s golden domes is used for meditation and masse. If you want to have mindless healing, consider Iowa for a quality mind relaxation.[5]

30. The red delicious red apple originated in Peru, Iowa

If you are an apple farmer, you might consider getting your propagation material from the orchard in Peru, Iowa where it all started.[4]

A Golf Course

31. Iowa’s people are the best golf players

The people of Iowa love to play golf. Iowa has more golf courses per capita than any other state.

32. It’s an Agricultural Center

Lowa has a high rank in beef, pork, corn, soybean, and cereal production. It’s a source of food to neighboring states. Farms produce enough food to feed over 300 people. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the state has more than 85,000 farms and the average farm size in Iowa in 2017 was 351 acres. However, the national average in 2017 was 444 acres.[21]

Iowa 80 Truck Stop
Iowa 80 Truck Stop Sign

33. List of Iowa facts cannot be complete without mentioning this fact. The world’s largest truck stop is in Iowa. It is known as Iowa 80. The truck stop is not just a place for truckers to park their bread and butter earning machines, but it also has a barbershop, chiropractor, and a huge museum with antique trucks. It was established in 1964, and has been dubbed “A Small City” and “A Trucker’s Disneyland.” In short, it’s a trucker’s paradise.

the world's largest bull made of concrete - Albert bull
Albert the Bull, made of concrete and the world’s largest bull, was erected in 1964 to honor the local Iowa cattle industry.

34. Iowa has the world’s largest concrete bull. He is 28 feet tall and has a 15-foot span between horns. Erected in 1964 in Audubon, he weighs 45 tons.[22]

35. Manufacturing is the backbone of the state’s economy: there are countless manufacturing companies in Iowa. Most of which are food processing companies. Electrical equipment, chemical products, publishing, and primary metal companies are a huge source of employment too.

The Biggest Frying Pan in Iowa.
The Biggest Frying Pan in Iowa. Interesting facts about Iowa. Photo © Jim Roberts | Dreamstime.com

36. The Biggest Frying Pan in Iowa: a huge frying pan was built for the Brandon’s Cowboy Breakfast Festival in 2004 to fry 44 dozen eggs. This is equivalent to 88 pounds of bacon. It measures nine feet in width and 14 feet in length with the handle included. The Cowboy Breakfast Festival occurs on the 3rd Sunday of every September.

37. Sac City, Iowa, is home to the world’s largest popcorn ball. The ball has a circumference of just over 24 feet. 

38. Ashton Kutcher was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

39. The Only Museum for Sprint Car Racing: the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville opens every day. Located next to one of the ancient dirt tracks in the US, it is the place to learn the history of sprint car racing and big cars. The champions in this sport have been honored in the Hall of Fame. These non-winged sprint cars were used in the 30s and 40s. They were the predecessors of the current Indycar.

40. The first moving train robbery in the world happened on July 21, 1873 in Adair, Iowa. The burglars netted some $3,000.[23]

41. It was in 1892 that John Froelich invented the first gasoline-powered engine that could be driven backwards and forwards (tractor).[24]

42. Three States in One City: Sioux City Iowa may feel a little strange if you are visiting for the first time. You can travel across three states without actually leaving the city. The largest section is the Sioux City and is in Iowa. Then North Sioux is part of South Dakota while South Sioux is in Nebraska.

43. On November 19, 1997, a 29 year old Bobby McCaughey gave birth to septuplets, the first time in the U.S. that so many infants in a multiple birth were born alive. They are the world’s first set of surviving septuplets.[25]

44. In 1856, the bridge between Davenport and Rock Island was the first to span the mighty Mississippi River.[26]

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