“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
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Iowa Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on February 22, 2020

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Iowa ranks 47th among states and provinces with markers in this database. Iowa is a state in the United States of America located in the American Midwest. It is also in the Upper Plains region. Iowa is some 58 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 3.2 million people. The state is divided into 99 counties and 77 of them have entries in this database. In Iowa we have discovered historical markers in 132 cities and towns lying in 136 different ZIP Codes.

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How many historical markers are there in Iowa? There are least 416 of them, by our count. We have cataloged 414 historical markers and 100 war memorials—each individually presented on 509 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another two historical markers in Iowa that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

The first Iowa marker in the database, Iowa’s Confederate General, was added September 18, 2007. It was photographed in Bentonsport in Van Buren County and was erected in 2007. The last one added was submitted on November 2, 2019, and titled American Indians & Settlers. It is in Arnolds Park in Dickinson County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Iowa was erected in 1867. It was this one: Winterset Civil War Memorial, and one of our correspondents found it in Winterset in Madison County on October 9, 2009.

Iowa Historical Categories
90 • Notable Buildings
89 • Patriots and Patriotism
79 • Settlements and Settlers
69 • Man-Made Features
64 • World War II
51 • Civil War
45 • Vietnam War
39 • Korean War
32 • Education
32 • Churches and Religion
    ... and more ...

Iowans don’t want to forget their Notable Buildings history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Iowa about Notable Buildings—90 of them—than about any other historical category. A close second is Patriots and Patriotism with 89 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Notable Buildings category was Fort Severson, added July 26, 2008. It had been erected near Carpenter in Mitchell County. The last one submitted was submitted on November 6, 2015, and titled Davis County Courthouse. It had been erected in Bloomfield in Davis County. One of the earliest marker erected with the Notable Buildings category that we have listed was erected in 1967. More than one was erected in 1967. This is one of them: Historic Iowa City / Mormon Handcart Trail - 1856, was found near Tiffin in Johnson County on July 26, 2010.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Iowa county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Madison County, with 57 of them. It is followed by Page County with 50 markers. The Winterset area of Madison County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 57. In Page County the area with the most markers, 28, is Shenandoah.

Historical Markers in These
Iowa Counties
57 • Madison County
50 • Page County
28 • Pottawattamie County
24 • Cerro Gordo County
22 • Cedar County
21 • Woodbury County
17 • Dubuque County
17 • Iowa County
17 • Union County
16 • Wapello County
    ... and more ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Iowa with the most markers we again find Winterset at the top of the list with 57 markers in or near it. And Shenandoah also shows up again in next place, with 28 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 50273 at the top of the list with 57 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 50273 is assigned to Winterset IA.) It is followed by ZIP Code 51601 with 28 markers. (51601 is assigned to Shenandoah IA.)

Historical Markers Near These
Iowa Cities and Towns
57 • Winterset
28 • Shenandoah
22 • Council Bluffs
21 • Clarinda
20 • West Branch
16 • Dubuque
15 • Northwood
14 • Amana
14 • Creston
14 • Sioux City
    ... and more ...

Getting back to Madison County, the first marker added to the database from there, Winterset Civil War Memorial, was added October 9, 2009, and was also the first one submitted in all of Iowa. It was erected in 1867 in Winterset. The last one submitted was uploaded on October 22, 2014, and is titled Cedar Covered Bridge, near Winterset. The earliest marker erected in Madison County that we have listed was erected in 1867. It was Winterset Civil War Memorial, found in Winterset on October 9, 2009.

Latest entry from Iowa. Click to go there
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, October 5, 2019
Latest Entry from Iowa
“American Indians & Settlers”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Shenandoah. The first: Theodore Roosevelt Speech Site, was added August 23, 2015. The last: Grand Army of the Republic Memorial added on August 28, 2015. It had been erected in 1946. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1917: Civil War Memorial, added on August 25, 2015.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

There is no organization in charge of erecting official historical markers state-wide in Iowa today. A number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Iowa have been marked with history. Check out Bremer County, Boone County and Black Hawk County. We've only found one historical marker in each. Visiting one or more of these parts of Iowa might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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