99 Counties

Every county has a story to tell.

Development of Iowa's 99 Counties

Learn how Iowa counties were formed and have changed over a 36 year span from 1836 to 1872.


How has the county map of Iowa changed over time?

Development of Iowa's 99 Counties

Learn how Iowa counties were formed and have changed over a 36 year span from 1836 to 1872.

How has the county map of Iowa changed over time?


Coal Mining

As far back as the 1850s, coal mines were part of Appanoose County. Experience what an Iowa coal mine was like and how the coal was used.

What role has coal mining played in Iowa’s history?

Black Hawk

Ice House Museum

The Ice House Museum teaches us about how people preserved their food before refrigerators and freezers were used.

How did people keep food cold before refrigerators were used?


Kate Shelley Bridge

Explore how Kate Shelley, an ordinary young girl did an extraordinary thing.

How can ordinary people become heroes?


Wapsipinicon Mill

Today, your family probably buys bread at the market, but once upon a time you had to make the ingredients and then bake your own bread at home.

How might people have used natural resources to produce goods in the past?



Being President is a busy job, without much time for exercise. The Presidential doctors got creative when it came to keeping the only President from Iowa, Herbert Hoover, healthy and fit.

Why do you think it was important for President Hoover to find a unique way to stay fit?

Cerro Gordo

The Surf Ballroom

The Surf Ballroom is a famous and historic music and dance hall. It's a place to go have fun with friends and hear all kinds of music. It is also famous for a much sadder tale.

How can music bring people together?


Brick Factory

Brick is one of the oldest building materials in the world. Learn about brick construction at the United Brick and Tile Company.

Why are bricks a good building material?


RVP 1875 - Historical Furniture Shop

Before electric power tools, hand-and-foot powered tools were what people used to build things. At RVP 1875, these tools are still used to build furniture today.

How do you think furniture was made before power tools? 


Herbert Quick Schoolhouse

When pioneers first began coming to Iowa, they established one-room schoolhouses all over the state. 

Where could kids in the Iowa territory go to school before Iowa officially become a state?


Little Wall Lake

Long ago, glaciers covered parts of Iowa. As they melted, they left behind lakes, like Little Wall Lake in Hamilton County.

What evidence of glaciers might we be able to see today?


National Hobo Museum

Britt, Iowa is home to the National Hobo Museum and the National Hobo Convention. Hobos have played an important role in this community and in our state.

How do you think hobos have impacted Iowa over time?


Steamboat Bertrand

The Steamboat Bertrand sank while traveling on the Missouri River in the 1860s. It was carrying people to mining towns in Montana, seeking to make a better life for themselves.

Why might people take risks to improve their lives? 


American Heavyweight Champion

Frank Gotch made history in the sport of wrestling. Learn how is accomplishment paved the way for young wrestlers today.

How have Iowans made a impact in the world?


A City of Castles

Ida Grove is known as Castletown, USA. One influential person played a big role in building the many buildings that look like castles.

How much influence can one person have on a place or time?


Wagaman Mill

The Wagaman Mill in Lynnville was built in a very strategic place to take advantage of the power of a nearby river. 

Why were mills often built along rivers? 



On the same day that the Old Capitol building became part of the University of Iowa, a meteorite fell to Earth, connecting these two events in history.

Why do you think meteors fall to the Earth?


Trumpeter Swans

At the Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge, swans are being protected from hunting by protecting and preserving resources and the environment.

Why is it important to protect and preserve Iowa’s resources and environments?


Keokuk-Hamilton Dam

Learn how the town of Keokuk overcame travel and trading obstacles on the river using engineering solutions.

How did humans overcome natural barriers with engineering solutions in the past?


Glacial Erratic Rock

Waldo's Rock Park in Marion, Iowa is home to a large rock that doesn't match any others around it. Instead, it matches rocks found in Minnesota. This rock is an example of a glacial erratic, moved and left behind by a glacier.

What evidence of glaciers can we see today?


Lover's Leap Swinging Bridge

The Lover's Leap Swinging Bridge was built to solve a problem for citizens.

Why might it be valuable to consider multiple solutions to a problem? 


Iowa's Only Highway Tunnel

Pammel State Park is the home of the only highway tunnel in Iowa.

Why do you think Iowa has such few tunnels? 


Mule Cemetery

The Nelson Pioneer Farm in Oskaloosa is the home of a rare cemetery just for mules. 

Why might people hold honored regard for their animals?


Lost Towns of Red Rock

Lake Redrock is a manmade lake. When it was made, several towns were submerged under the surface and are now known as the Lost Towns of Lake Red Rock.

How do you think landforms impact where people live?


Pearl Buttons

Today, buttons are made of plastic. But not too long ago, Muscatine, Iowa was the button capitol of the world. They specialized in making pearl buttons. 

What are the pros and cons of making buttons out of mussel shells versus plastic?

Palo Alto

The Grotto of the Redemption

The small town of West Bend, Iowa is home to a huge feat of engineering and design success. Let's see how one man's vision resulted in a beautiful, above ground "cave" is called The Grotto of the Redemption.

How did availability of materials and time impact the construction of the Grotto?


The Jordan House

The Jordan House is one of the oldest homes in Polk County. The history of the house includes keeping a very important secret.

How can people work together to change history?


White Bison

A rare white bison can be seen at Botna Bend Park in Pottawattamie County. A rare combination of genes gives this bison it's color. 

Why do you think that living things look similar to their parents?


Serv-a-Son Chocolate Bar

During Brooklyn, Iowa's Flag Day celebration, the town recreated "Serv-a-Son" chocolate bars, which lifted the spirits of Iowa soldiers during World War II.

What do you think was the most meaningful part of the soldiers receiving these candy bars?


Barn Quilts

In Sac County, the barn quilts are particularly noticeable. Explore how this type of artistic expression has brought a community together.

How can art bring a community together?


Story City Antique Carousel

This hand-carved antique carousel has been a source of entertainment since 1913. Next time you pass by on Interstate 35, stop by for a ride on one of its horses, pigs, chickens or chariots.

What are some similarities and differences between entertainment from the past and present?


Rock Island Train Depot

There was a time when no Iowa town was more than five miles from a train depot. For some towns, like Eldon, the railroad was a way of life. 

Why were train depots important in Iowa towns?


Washington's State Theatre

The State Theatre is the world's oldest continually operating movie theater. Since being invented, movies have become an important part of entertainment for people all over the world.

How do you think technology has changed the ways that people are entertained?


Quasdorf Blacksmith and Wagon Museum

Blacksmiths made and repaired tools. The Quasdorf Blacksmith and Wagon Museum gives an authentic feel of what a blacksmith's shop was like.

Why might blacksmiths have played an important role to a town in the past?