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

Iowa Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on January 22, 2021

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Iowa ranks 48th 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 81 of them have entries in this database. In Iowa we have discovered historical markers in 143 cities and towns lying in 146 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 463 historical markers in Iowa, by our count. We have cataloged 454 historical markers and 121 war memorials—each individually presented on 571 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another nine 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 December 22, 2020, and titled Tall Grasses and Open Skies. It is in West Branch in Cedar 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 Topics
102 • Settlements and Settlers
93 • Industry and Commerce
50 • Civil War
48 • Architecture
46 • World War II
39 • Exploration
37 • Education
37 • Churches and Religion
36 • Roads and Vehicles
35 • Arts, Letters, Music
    ... and others ...

Iowans don’t want to forget their Settlements and Settlers history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Iowa about Settlements and Settlers—102 of them—than about any other historical topic. A close second is Industry and Commerce with 93 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Settlements and Settlers topic was Mt. Pisgah – Mormon Pioneer Way Station / Chief Pied Riche Tells the Spirit of Mt. Pisgah, added July 21, 2009. It had been erected near Talmage in Union County. The last one submitted was submitted on December 22, 2020, and titled Surrounded by Farms. It had been erected in West Branch in Cedar County. The earliest marker erected with the Settlements and Settlers topic that we have listed was erected in 1894. It is Massacre Monument, found in Arnolds Park in Dickinson County on May 3, 2015.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Iowa? What we know is that The Confederate Invasion of Iowa Monument is the most viewed entry in the database from Iowa since it was added in 2007. It is located in Bloomfield in Davis County. This year so far, the most viewed Iowan entry is located in Shenandoah in Page County. It is W. Eugene Lloyd.

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
39 • Cedar County
31 • Cerro Gordo County
29 • Woodbury County
28 • Pottawattamie County
18 • Dubuque County
18 • Worth County
17 • Iowa County
17 • Union County
    ... and others ...

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. It is followed by West Branch in Cedar County with 37 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 52358 with 37 markers. (52358 is assigned to West Branch IA including the Cedar Valley, Downey, Herbert Hoover National Hist, Oasis, and Springdale delivery areas.)

Historical Markers Near These
Iowa Cities and Towns
57 • Winterset
37 • West Branch
28 • Shenandoah
22 • Council Bluffs
21 • Clarinda
21 • Sioux City
19 • Mason City
17 • Dubuque
15 • Northwood
14 • Amana
    ... and others ...

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 Connor Olson, July 26, 2020
Latest Entry from Iowa
“Tall Grasses and Open Skies”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from West Branch. The first: Herbert Hoover, was added October 14, 2011. The last: Tall Grasses and Open Skies added on December 22, 2020.

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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Jan. 22, 2021