8 Must-Visit Historical Landmarks In Iowa That You Must Not Miss (2023)
When it comes to State’s and Nation’s history, Iowa presents its richness quite well. Among those small tourist towns, cornfields, and outdoor recreation, Iowa also stores a huge number of sort-out historical landmarks. Today, Iowa is a powerful political and historical landscape and a colourful mecca of the Midwest. From ancient Native American civilizations to landmarks that served as the birthplace of influential individuals, there are attractions no history buff should dare to miss. American legends such as Herbert Hoover, Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Wayne, Buffalo Bill, and Glenn Miller have blessed Iowa with their presence, achievement, and their homes and remain today.
A visit to Iowa is ideal for those who are seeking some historical fun and heritage excursion. The options aren’t very grand, but exploring them once in a lifetime is beyond worth it. Be it the scorching summer heat or winter breeze, Iowa’s historical landmarks and attractions are a must-visit. Here are some great options that will allow you to step back in time and live experiences like a true Iowan. So why wait? Read about the most popular historical attractions to visit in Iowa.
8 Must-Visit Historical Landmarks In Iowa That You Must Not Miss
Have a look:
1. Amana Colonies
Amana Colonies are the unique German heritage and some of America’s longest-lived communal societies. This National Historic Landmark consists of seven villages that were settled by German Pietists during the 1850s. The Amana tribe lived here from 1856 till 1932 until the formal written rules were imposed here. The residents of these colonies lived a truly independent life producing and using their own furniture, clothing, food, water, power, and more. At its peak, these colonies had over 10,000, which is one of the most successful numbers for a non-governed and self-controlled society during those times. Amana Colonies today serve as popular historical attractions in Iowa. Heritage tourism draws thousands of tourists every year from both states and across. Visitors can find craft shops, restaurants, bakeries, and other engaging landmarks here.
2. Sergeant Floyd Monument
The first designated National Historic Landmark of the United States, the Sergeant Floyd Monument, is a memorial to Sergeant Charles Floyd Jr. Today, it is a part of 23 acres of park, located on Floyd’s Bluff, Sioux City, overlooking the Missouri River. Sergeant Floyd was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the only one to die during the journey. Floyd most likely died due to peritonitis and his mates buried him on top of the bluff ½ mile below a small river. The grave was washed with river flow during the initial years; however, the locals later rediscovered it. The 100 feet high Egyptian-style obelisk one can see today was constructed in 1900. The Monument is built of Kettle River sandstone and is capped with aluminium connected to copper grounding wires. The Monument is right above Floyd’s remains and is a popular evening spot amongst the locals. Upon reaching here, one can grab great views of the Missouri River and the surrounding farmlands. Sunsets views from the Floyd Monument too are quite popular amongst locals and visitors.
3. Grotto of the Redemption
Also referred to as the Eight wonders of the world, Grotto of the Redemption is a must-visit Historical landmark in Iowa. Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began constructing the Grotto in 1912. However, since he was building the largest man-made Grotto in the world, the process took him nearly 42 years. Father Paul and a few local craftsmen gave in their efforts and established this complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrification of the world. The estimated value of minerals and rocks found here is over $4,308,000. Upon visiting here, one can find a series of nine separate grottos, each of which depicts scenes from Jesus Christ’s life. Grotto of the Redemption operates 24 hours and 7 days a week and is free for everyone to visit. Father Paul Dobberstein wanted no one to deprive of visiting here due to cost and thus wanted the shrine to be free for all and forever. It is a great place to spend at least 2 to 3 hours walking and observing all the details.
4. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
A must-visit Historical landmark in Iowa, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is the birthplace of former President Herbert Hoover. Managed by the National Park Service, this historical attraction is located in West Branch. On the grounds, one can observe and explore President Hoover’s birthplace cottage along with President and his wife’s (Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover) gravesite. Besides that, there is a reconstructed blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, presidential library and museum, and a 76-acre tall-grass prairie. The landmark is also home to a small visitor’s centre that interprets the early life of Hoover in Iowa. For learning Iowan as well as American history, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is definitely a great place to visit. The facility operates throughout the week from 9 am to 5 pm.
5. Dodge House-Historic General (Historic General Dodge House)
Located in the Council Bluff, the Historic General Dodge House is a Second Empire mansion built in 1869. It is the former home to Grenville M. Dodge, who was a political figure, an Army man, and a prominent individual known for his contribution to the development of the railroads across the American West. The house you see today serves as a historical museum featuring a wide variety of fine antiques owned by the Dodge ad family. It is one of the most painstakingly preserved historic homes in the United States and thus draws visitors from states and across. This historic house is the first National Historic Landmark in Council Bluffs and the only registered National Historic Landmark in the city. It is also the 2nd among the 26 National Historic Landmarks in Iowa. The museum looks appealing from the outside and has an excellent period-style setting from the inside. Anyone who loves exploring heritage homes will love this property. The facility operates Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
6. Julien Dubuque Monument
The Julien Dubuque Monument is one of the major and must-visit historical landmarks in Iowa. Built in 1987, the Monument sits high above the Mississippi River and overlooks the Mines of Spain property. As its name suggests, the Monument is the burial site of Julien Dubuque and is culturally and historically important amongst the individuals of this city. Julien Dubuque was a French trader who came to Iowa in 1788 and later became an American citizen. He established a successful life in this state until he was assassinated in 1810 at age 53 by an Osage Indian. Dubuque today is remembered as a champion of American industry, which makes his story and this landmark a prominent place in Iowa. The Monument is open from 4 am to 10 pm and is free for one and all. Locals often visit here to stroll the sidewalk and observe the beautiful views around. The Monument in itself is known for its beautiful stonework and is worth a stop.
7. Fort Des Moines
Fort Des Moines is amongst the most prominent historical landmarks in Iowa. It was the first military training camp for African Americans built even before World War I. Later during World War II, it served as a training camp for the new Women’s Army Corps. The fort served for military usage until 1946 and offered over 50 years of operations. Later in 1960, the state reopened it as a historical landmark and a museum that exhibits American History and Fort Des Moines’ role in the first and second World Wars, Civil War, and shaping the nation. Visitors can see photos and artifacts from the earliest days of Des Moines and learn a lot about history through them. It demonstrates two prominent historical events, including when black officers were allowed into service and when women were trained to join the American army. Since the museum operates only on Saturdays, be mindful of when you plan the trip.
8. Old Capitol Building
Once the main governance building of Iowa, the Old Capitol Building today serves as a prominent museum and historical attraction of Iowa. Built in 1842, it is located in Iowa city and is known for its huge building cost of ‘$1 million back then. Old Capitol Building was a prominent state affair when Iowa city served as the state capital. However, when the designation moved to Des Moines, the capitol building also changed. Today, the one you see in Iowa City is a prominent part of the University of Iowa and a National Historic Landmark. Today’s ground floor of the old capitol building serves as a museum that exhibits artifacts and stories about Iowa, the University, and the building in itself. The facility also hosts several university meetings and gathering inviting influential names. It majorly operates on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm for public visits.