“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sioux City in Woodbury County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

An American Treasure

Iowa's Loess Hills

An American Treasure Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
1. An American Treasure Marker
Inscription.  Crushed by glaciers, carried by the wind, carved by rain, and inhabited by rare and unusual plants and animals, the Loess Hills of western Iowa possess natural features rarely duplicated anywhere else in the world. Only western Iowa and the Yellow River valley in China can boast of towering dunes of loess soil more than 200 feet deep. Iowa's Loess Hills extend in a narrow two to ten mile wide band that skirts the Missouri River valley along Iowa's western border. The steep, sharp-featured landscape, with irregular peaks, saddles and distinctive "catstep" terraces, is the product of tens of thousands of years of deposition and erosion. The rugged landscape and strong local contrasts in climate and soil conditions provide a desert-like habitat for a number of rare and unusual native plant and animal communities, many of which can be found in Iowa only in the Loess Hills.

The Iowa Loess Hills are composed of sediments originally created by the grinding action of glaciers and wind deposited into dunes along the east edge of the Missouri River valley. As the climate warmed, these dunes were gradually stabilized by vegetation, a progression
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of coniferous forest to deciduous forest to prairie. Erosion continued to shape the hills. Native Americans had little environmental impact on the region, but after European cultures arrived in the 19th century, farming practices suppressed the natural wildfires that supported the prairie's dominance, thus allowing trees to once again encroach upon the hillsides and giving the hills their present appearance.

Loess Hills Scenic Byway
The Loess Hills Scenic Byway is a system of signed roads through the Loess Hills region of western Iowa. The Byway's main route consists of 220 miles of paved road. Travelers can also follow any of the Byway's 15 excursion routes. The Scenic Byway is easily accessible from Interstates 29 and 80. The Byway links the most spectacular scenic areas in the Loess Hills as well as many historic, natural, and recreational attractions. More information about the Scenic Byway is available at area welcome centers.

Geologic Wonder
The Loess Hills are a product of the Illinoian and Wisconsinan glacial periods when huge quantities of wind-blown silt, or loess, accumulated to heights of over 200 feet. Most of the loess deposits occurred between 18,000 and 150,000 years ago. The silt particles that form the Loess Hills were produced by the grinding movement of glaciers on rock underneath. Glacial meltwater carried the silt
Marker detail: Illustration image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Illustration
downriver during the summer. In the winter, water flow slowed and the silt was deposited on the flood plain only to be picked up by strong winds and deposited again along the eastern edge of the Missouri River. Erosion of the loess soil during thousands of years has helped form this unique landscape.
Erected by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Iowa West Foundation, Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, and Western Iowa Tourism Region.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Natural Features.
Location. 42° 33.261′ N, 96° 28.41′ W. Marker is in Sioux City, Iowa, in Woodbury County. Marker is on Dakota Point Road just west of Stone State Park Drive, on the left when traveling west. Marker is in Stone State Park, at a pull-out about 8/10 mile west of Talbot Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sioux City IA 51109, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Prairies in the Hills (approx. 0.2 miles away); Native Peoples of the Loess (approx. 0.2 miles away); From Settlement to State Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); Geology Wonders (approx. 0.2 miles away); Big Sioux River Valley (approx. 0.2 miles away); You Are Entering South Dakota
Marker detail: Loess Hills<br>/ Missouri River Valley image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Loess Hills
/ Missouri River Valley
(approx. 2 miles away in South Dakota); Grand Army of the Republic (approx. 4.2 miles away); Prospect Hill (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux City.
Also see . . .
1. Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. Toward the end of the last ice age, winds picked up soils that had been ground as fine as flour and formed dunes along the ancient waterway that became today's Missouri River. The process repeated itself during the thousands of years the ice age took to end, enlarging the dunes. Because the prevailing winds were from the northwest, the dunes on the Iowa side of the river were higher than those west of the Missouri. (Submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Loess Hills (Wikipedia). On August 12, 1859, Abraham Lincoln ascended the hills at Cemetery Hill at Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs while being briefed on possible locations for the First Transcontinental Railroad. (Submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
An American Treasure Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
4. An American Treasure Marker
Loess Hills / Missouri River Valley image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
5. Loess Hills / Missouri River Valley
(looking southwest from marker • North Sioux City in distant background)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 4, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 147 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Dec. 11, 2023