IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
STORIES OF IOWA
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
THE NEW IOWA
On January 17, 1884, the new state capitol at Des Moines was opened. This splendid building, finished in granite and marble and surmounted with a golden dome, replaced the ugly brick building with bare walls which had been the capitol during the middle period. In the years that followed the opening of the new capitol Iowa became the great state that it is to-day.
During the early years of this period many improvements were made in cities and towns throughout the state. Electric lights came into general use, and furnaces replaced stoves in many homes. Paving, waterworks, and sewer systems were installed even in the smaller cities and towns.
In the early years of this period the bicycle was brought into the state. The first bicycles had one high wheel in front and a low wheel behind. The rider sat astride the high wheel and if he hit a bump he took a painful spill. Soon the bicycle, called the safety, with two wheels of equal size, replaced the earlier type. Bicycle clubs were formed in nearly every town and city throughout the state. The bicycle was as popular then as automobiles are to-day.
Another device brought into Iowa in those years was the telephone. At first it was regarded a a plaything and by many as a nuisance. But in a short time every town had a telephone system, and farmers' lines began to cover the state with a network of wires. The telephone saved many weary miles of travel.
In 1898 war broke out between the United States and Spain over conditions in Cuba, and Iowa responded to the call for troops with a signal corps unit, a company of colored soldiers, two batteries of artillery, and four regiments of infantry. These regiments were numbered the Forty-ninth, Fiftieth, Fifty-first, and Fifty-second, the numbering beginning where it had left off at the close of the Civil War. The signal corps unit and the Forty-ninth Iowa reached Cuba, and the Fifty-first regiment was sent to the far-off Philippines. The Fiftieth Iowa was detained at Camp Cuba Libre at Jacksonville, Florida, and the Fifty-second at Chicamauga Park, Georgia, until the war was over.
In the days following the Spanish-American War the first automobiles were brought to Iowa. One of these was a locomobile run by steam. It was built like a buggy with a high dashboard. Another was a Haynes gasoline car. At the district fair held in Linn County in 1899 these two cars were centers of attraction. Whenever their owners took these horseless carriages out on the roads people stopped their work to watch them pass. Farmers found it hard to keep their horses from running away if they met one of the machines. Many cursed the new fangled vehicles and declared they would have laws passed to keep them off the roads. Little did the people of that day dream that thirty years later there would be one automobile for every three people in the state.
A few years later, in 1904, a start was made toward better roads in Iowa. In that year a split-log road drag was brought into the stare. It proved to be just what was needed to smooth the surface of dirt roads. Since that time steady progress has been made in securing good roads for Iowa. Many miles of paved and gravelled roads have been built. In a few years paved roads will extend north and south and east and west across each county in Iowa, and the less important roads will be gravelled.
During the years following the opening of the new capitol in 1884, Iowa had developed into a great and wealthy agricultural state. The new Iowa leads the world in the production of corn, oats, hay, poultry, hogs, and horses. In 1925 the value of farm crops, live stock, poultry, and dairy products in Iowa was more than $900,000,000.
The farmer in Iowa to-day uses many labor-saving machines to do his work, and his wife has many modern conveniences in the home. Modern farm buildings and fine farm houses may be seen in every county. Fertile acres, a good climate, and the use of modern machinery have enabled the Iowa farmer to raise huge crops.
Iowa also produces a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Strawberry crops in Iowa are heavy, and the sandy loam of the bottom land near Muscatine is famous for its melons and sweet potatoes. Cabbages, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and asparagus are grown in great quantities throughout the state. The nurseries and seed gardens of Shenandoah are far famed. In 1925 the fruit and vegetable crops in Iowa were each worth more than $2,000,000.
The new Iowa is noted not only for its splendid farms, but also for its factories. These are located in more than 600 towns and cities throughout the state. From small beginnings during the middle period the number of factories in Iowa has increased to nearly 5000. The total value of their products in 1925 was more than $690,000,000.
The most important manufacturing in Iowa is that of meat packing. Large plants are located at Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Ottumwa, Mason City, Waterloo, and Dubuque. Next in importance is the manufacture of cereal products. The largest cereal mill in the world for the manufacture of oatmeal, puffed wheat, puffed rice, and other grain products is located in Cedar Rapids.
Cement plants in Des Moines and Mason City furnish much of the cement used in the making of hard surfaced roads. Large sash and door factories are located at Dubuque and Muscatine. Iron works at Keokuk, Burlington, Dubuque, and Bettendorf specialize in the making of steel and iron products. Large factories at Waterloo and Charles City make farm machinery. Two thirds of all the washing machines in the world are made in Iowa, with Newton as a center of this industry. Fountain pens are made at Fort Madison, and calendars at Iowa City and Red Oak. Throughout the state more than sixty plants manufacture clay products such as brick and tile. Muscatine is a noted center for the making of pearl buttons. More than three hundred coal mines are located in central and southern Iowa. This list, which includes only a part of the industries in Iowa, shows how important manufacturing has become in the state.
Along with the increase of wealth has come more time for rest and play. A few years ago people in Iowa began to realize that most of the beauty spots in the state were owned by private individuals. In 1919 the State Board of Conservation was created to secure as many of these spots as possible for state parks where people could go for rest and where wild animals and birds would be unmolested.
The first region to be acquired was the Backbone Park in Delaware County. Since that time a splendid system of parks has been established. To-day there are thirty-nine state parks, and eventually there will be a park in each county of Iowa. Included in the list of parks are several lakes where Iowans may enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and water sports.
The schools in Iowa have kept pace with the progress made in farming and industry during this period. From a small beginning the State University at Iowa City, the State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Ames, and the State Teachers College at Cedar Falls have grown until to-day they are among the finest in the nation. The state maintains a school for the blind at Vinton and a school for the deaf at Council Bluffs. Besides the state institutions there are many excellent colleges in Iowa supported privately or by churches.
In many parts of Iowa the one-room country schools of the middle period have been replaced by large consolidated schools. There are nearly 400 consolidated schools in Iowa located in ninety of the ninety-nine counties. They are used not only as schools but as community centers for plays, social gatherings, moving pictures, and lectures. Altogether there are almost 12,000 schools in Iowa.
During this later period a number of Iowans have written books which make the story of Iowa and its resources known to the world. Samuel Calvin of the State University told the interesting story revealed by the rocks. L. H. Pammel of Iowa State College and Thomas H. Macbride of the State University have written about Iowa plants. Herbert Quick used Iowa materials for his three books Vandemark's Folly, The Hawkeye, and The Invisible Woman. Hamlin Garland, claimed both by Wisconsin and Iowa, has left charming pictures of the Iowa of yesterday in his Boy Life on the Prairie and A Son of the Middle Border. William Salter, B. F. Gue, Johnson Brigham, and Cyrenus Cole have written well-known histories of Iowa for adults; while Henry and Edwin L. Sabin, C. R. Aurner, and T. P. Christensen have written history stories for children.
George Meason Whicher, Arthur Davison Ficke, and Edwin Ford Piper have won fame for their poetry. S. H. M. Byers, Alice French (Octave Thanet), Emerson Hough, Irving B. Richman, Ellis Parker Butler, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Susan Glaspell, James Norman Hall, Ruth Suckow, and John T. Frederick have become noted as Iowa writers. Indeed, the list of Iowa writers is a long one, and many names might be added to this group.
Iowans have done much to preserve the history of the state. At Des Moines Charles Aldrich and later Edgar R. Harlan built up the large collection of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department. This collection includes newspapers, books, manuscripts, papers from the state offices, pictures, and relics. The Department publishes a magazine called the Annals of Iowa. Every boy and girl who goes to Des Moines should pay a visit to the Historical Building.
The State Historical Society of Iowa was established by law at Iowa City in 1857. From 1863 to 1874 the Society published a quarterly magazine of Iowa history known as the Annals of Iowa; from 1885 to 1902 the Iowa Historical Record; and from 1902 to date The Iowa Journal of History and Politics. Since 1920 the Society has also published a monthly magazine, The Palimpsest. This magazine contains short stories of Iowa history. Under the direction of Benj. F. Shambaugh, Superintendent of the Society, writers have prepared books on many aspects of Iowa history. Indeed, the books and other publications of the Society in themselves from a library of Iowa history.
Boys and girls who live in Iowa to-day have a right to feel proud of their state. Iowa is a land of opportunity.
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