Transportation in Iowa

Transportation | FIND Iowa
Jul 25, 2024 | 00:02:26

Throughout history, how have people traveled in Iowa?

From horse-drawn wagons to steamboats to railroads to cars, how people travel in Iowa has changed over time.


[Abby Brown] It's in our human nature to try to understand the world around us. Sometimes in our quest for knowledge and understanding, we have to hit the road or water or train tracks.

Today my transportation method is a rail explorer in Boone, Iowa. I'm going to pedal this thing and take a look at all of the beautiful sights and imagine what it would have been like to go on a train ride back when railroads were the most popular way for people and goods to get from one place to another. 

There are lots of reasons why train travel developed and then declined in Iowa. Other methods of transportation across our state also rose and fell. Before railroad tracks and trains. There were steamboats with four rivers bordering Iowa, people figured out how to travel them to get people where they needed to go and goods to the people who needed them.

There was definitely some problem solving along the way, like creating locks and dams. But for a time, steamboats were the way to travel.

Railroads have made a huge impact on our history for cars and airplanes. Trains rumbled through Iowa carrying people, food, farm equipment and other goods. But as time marched on, there were reasons the railroads declined too.

These days, much of our travel is by highway. Cars and trucks criss cross Iowa to take people and almost anything else where they need to go.

Come along for the ride while we explore the development and decline of Iowa's most interesting transportation methods.

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