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What Is Iowa Famous for?

Iowa, the heartland of America, is renowned for its vast cornfields and pivotal role in U.S. presidential elections with its first-in-the-nation caucuses. It's a land where agriculture meets politics, shaping the nation's future. But there's more to this state than meets the eye. What hidden gems does Iowa hold? Join us as we explore the Hawkeye State's unique legacy.
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland

Iowa is known for many things, including corn and pork production, political caucuses, and the Iowa State Fair. It became the 29th state in the U.S. in 1846, and it’s the only state to be bordered on two sides by navigable rivers: the Mississippi and the Missouri. Iowa is the birthplace of the Red Delicious apple and sliced bread, and it is home to the American Gothic House depicted in Grant Wood’s famous painting.

Why Is Iowa the Hawkeye State?

Iowa’s official state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch. The male’s plumage during mating season is bright yellow with black details.
Iowa’s official state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch. The male’s plumage during mating season is bright yellow with black details.

Iowa is named for a local Native American tribe, the Ioway, and its official nickname is the Hawkeye State. Most sources agree that the name was inspired by a well-known Native American warrior from the area, Black Hawk, and/or the character of Hawkeye in the novel The Last of the Mohicans. The Hawkeye nickname was officially approved in 1838. Unofficially, Iowa is also known as the Corn State and Land Where the Tall Corn Grows.

What Is The Capital of Iowa?

Stone State Park in Sioux City features a nature center and many hiking trails.
Stone State Park in Sioux City features a nature center and many hiking trails.

The capital of Iowa is Des Moines. Named for the Des Moines River, this city is the most populous in the state, and it’s also the county seat of Polk County. There are many exciting attractions in Des Moines, including museums, a zoo, and a botanical garden. The city has a performing arts center, an interactive science museum, and a vibrant art district. Principal Park is home to the Iowa Cubs, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs.

What Is the State Song of Iowa?

The Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines has a central dome covered in 23-karat gold leaf and a smaller dome at each of the building’s four corners.
The Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines has a central dome covered in 23-karat gold leaf and a smaller dome at each of the building’s four corners.

The official state song of Iowa is (appropriately) The Song of Iowa. Written in 1897 by S.H.M. Byers, the song was officially adopted in 1911 by the Iowa government. It’s set to the tune of O, Tannenbaum, which is a traditional German folk song. The lyrics cover many beautiful aspects of the state, including prairies, cornfields, and sunsets. The song also honors patriotic Iowans who died in war. Iowa has an unofficial state song that some residents prefer, The Corn Song. A less serious and more upbeat number, The Corn Song includes the phrase “where the tall corn grows,” which is an unofficial Iowa state motto.

What Is the State Bird of Iowa?

Though its official nickname is the Hawkeye State, Iowa is also known as Land Where the Tall Corn Grows.
Though its official nickname is the Hawkeye State, Iowa is also known as Land Where the Tall Corn Grows.

It might seem like the Hawkeye State’s official bird should be a hawk, or at least a bird of prey, but it’s not. The official state bird of Iowa is the Eastern Goldfinch, which was adopted by the state’s legislature in 1933. Though it’s a subspecies of the American Goldfinch, most people use the names interchangeably. This small bird is about 5 inches long with an 8-inch wingspan. Eastern Goldfinches primarily eat seeds and are especially fond of sunflower and thistle seeds. Male Eastern Goldfinches are easy to spot, especially during the summer mating season, with their bright yellow plumage and jaunty black cap.

What Is the State Tree of Iowa?

Iowa’s state song, The Song of Iowa, is set to the tune of O, Tannenbaum, which is a German folk song about a fir tree commonly sung as a Christmas carol.
Iowa’s state song, The Song of Iowa, is set to the tune of O, Tannenbaum, which is a German folk song about a fir tree commonly sung as a Christmas carol.

The official state tree of Iowa is the oak tree. The 59th Iowa General Assembly designated the oak as the state’s official tree in 1961. Though some sources list the bur oak as the state tree, the official government document doesn’t specify any particular oak species. Oak trees are well known for their large leaves, which can grow up to 12 inches long. Acorns are another notable characteristic of the oak tree. A single mature oak can produce up to 50,000 acorns in a single year. These nuts are food for a wide variety of wildlife, including squirrels, birds, and deer.

What Is Sioux City Known For?

The official tree of Iowa is the oak tree, which produces tens of thousands of acorns each year.
The official tree of Iowa is the oak tree, which produces tens of thousands of acorns each year.

The fourth-largest city in Iowa, Sioux City is the county seat for Woodbury County. Visitors and residents can enjoy many points of interest, including Stone State Park, which features hiking trails and a nature center. There are local history exhibits at the Sioux City Public Museum, and the city has an art museum as well. Trinity Heights Catholic Church displays religious art and sculptures. The Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City is a memorial to the single person who died on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Charles Floyd.

Iowa is a fascinating place with many unique attractions for visitors and locals alike. It has a rich history that’s well worth learning about. If you’re planning a trip to the Midwest, be sure to spend some time in the Hawkeye State.

Frequently Asked Questions

What agricultural products is Iowa particularly known for?

Iowa is renowned for its corn production, often leading the nation in this staple crop. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Iowa produced over 2.5 billion bushels of corn in 2020. The state is also a top producer of soybeans, and it plays a significant role in the pork industry, with the Iowa Pork Producers Association reporting that Iowa raises more pigs than any other state, contributing significantly to the nation's pork supply.

Are there any famous landmarks or historical sites in Iowa?

Yes, Iowa is home to several notable landmarks and historical sites. The Amana Colonies, a group of settlements of German Pietists, are a National Historic Landmark known for their craftsmanship and communal living. The Effigy Mounds National Monument preserves more than 200 prehistoric mounds built by Native American tribes. Additionally, the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch celebrates the life of the 31st President of the United States, who was born in Iowa.

What cultural contributions has Iowa made to the arts and literature?

Iowa has made significant cultural contributions, particularly through the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, which has produced numerous Pulitzer Prize winners and Poet Laureates. The state is also the setting for the iconic painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood, and it hosts the Des Moines Art Festival, recognized as one of the top arts festivals in the country. Iowa's rich literary tradition is celebrated at the annual Iowa City Book Festival.

How does Iowa's landscape and natural environment stand out?

Iowa's landscape is characterized by its rolling plains and fields, which are part of the Corn Belt, making it ideal for agriculture. The state also features the Loess Hills, unique windblown silt deposits along the western border, and the scenic byways along the Mississippi River. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the state's numerous state parks, such as Pikes Peak State Park and Maquoketa Caves State Park, which offer hiking, camping, and spelunking opportunities.

What role does Iowa play in American politics?

Iowa is famously known for its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, which play a pivotal role in the American political process. The Iowa caucuses serve as an early indicator of a candidate's potential success in the race for the presidency and can significantly influence the momentum of campaigns. This tradition has placed Iowa at the center of national political discourse every four years, drawing attention from media and political enthusiasts alike.

Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland is equally passionate about math and grammar, and she has incorporated both into her career. She spent several years as a signals analyst for the Defense Department, creating and editing reports for the intelligence community. After her two kids were born, she transitioned to a career as a freelance writer. When she isn't crafting content, she's usually reading, baking, or playing video games. Learn more...
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland
Amanda Holland is equally passionate about math and grammar, and she has incorporated both into her career. She spent several years as a signals analyst for the Defense Department, creating and editing reports for the intelligence community. After her two kids were born, she transitioned to a career as a freelance writer. When she isn't crafting content, she's usually reading, baking, or playing video games. Learn more...

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    • Iowa’s official state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch. The male’s plumage during mating season is bright yellow with black details.
      Iowa’s official state bird is the Eastern Goldfinch. The male’s plumage during mating season is bright yellow with black details.
    • Stone State Park in Sioux City features a nature center and many hiking trails.
      Stone State Park in Sioux City features a nature center and many hiking trails.
    • The Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines has a central dome covered in 23-karat gold leaf and a smaller dome at each of the building’s four corners.
      The Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines has a central dome covered in 23-karat gold leaf and a smaller dome at each of the building’s four corners.
    • Though its official nickname is the Hawkeye State, Iowa is also known as Land Where the Tall Corn Grows.
      Though its official nickname is the Hawkeye State, Iowa is also known as Land Where the Tall Corn Grows.
    • Iowa’s state song, The Song of Iowa, is set to the tune of O, Tannenbaum, which is a German folk song about a fir tree commonly sung as a Christmas carol.
      Iowa’s state song, The Song of Iowa, is set to the tune of O, Tannenbaum, which is a German folk song about a fir tree commonly sung as a Christmas carol.
    • The official tree of Iowa is the oak tree, which produces tens of thousands of acorns each year.
      The official tree of Iowa is the oak tree, which produces tens of thousands of acorns each year.