The Fertile Soil
- Prairies once covered about 40% of the United States.
- In Iowa, 99.9% of the prairie landscape is gone.
- Iowa has some of the most fertile farmland in the world.
- Scientists believe it takes about 400 years to produce one inch of
The First Farmers
- The last great glacier retreated approximately 12,000 years ago.
- Scientists believe people have lived in the upper Midwest for nearly
- Indian groups began building earthen mounds in the upper Midwest
approximately 4,000 years ago.
- Mound-building activities along the Upper Mississippi ended around
- About 700 years ago, Indians of a farming culture settled along the
Mississippi river in northeast Iowa.
- The state of Iowa was named for the Ioway Indians.
- The Ioway were living in the Upper Mississippi River Valley when
the first European explorers arrived in the 1600s.
The Fur Trade
- The first European explorers to reach the upper Midwest were Louis
Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette in June 1673.
- France claimed the entire Mississippi River and the surrounding valley
in 1682 after La Salle's explorations.
- After the French claimed the Mississippi valley, they set up fur
trading posts on the frontier.
- Indian groups traded the skins of beaver, raccoon and deer for objects
such as iron kettles, glass beads and cloth.
- The Sauk and Mesquakie Indians replaced the Ioway Indians as the
dominant group in the Upper Mississippi River Valley in the mid-1700s.
- Black Hawk was the most famous Sauk war chief. Another important
Sauk chief was Keokuk.
- The Louisiana
Purchase was sold by Napoleon to the United States in 1803.
- The United States paid France 15 million dollars for the Louisiana
- The Louisiana Purchase totaled approximately 828,000 square miles
of land west of the Mississippi River, including the present-day state
- Pioneer settlement in Iowa began in 1833.
- Iowa became a state in 1846.
- Between 1833 and 1846, Iowa was part of the Michigan Territory, the
Wisconsin Territory and the Iowa Territory.
- By 1851, the U. S. Federal government claimed ownership of all Iowa
lands once held by Native Americans.
- Most of the pioneer settlers were born in states to the east of Iowa.
- After the Civil War (1861-1865), large numbers of European immigrants
came to live in Iowa.
- Immigrants from Germany were the largest group to settle on the Iowa
- The new immigrants traveled to Iowa by wagon, stagecoach, steamboat
- The use of steamboats and stagecoaches dropped sharply after railroads
were built in Iowa.
- Most of Iowa's early settlers were farmers.
- The abundance of farmland drew many immigrants to the United States.
- When Iowa was first a state, land usually sold for $1.25 per acre.
- Prairie pioneers built their homes from materials around them. Log
homes were built where timber was available. Where timber was scarce,
sod homes were built.
- Early pioneer settlers were self-sufficient farmers. They built their
own buildings, sewed clothing, raised livestock and grew their own food.
- By the 1870s small farms covered most parts of the state.
- Corn was the main crop grown in Iowa.
- Pioneer farming required much hard work with few mechanical tools.
- By 1870, the pioneer frontier was gone.
- Farmers who arrived after the pioneers had more efficient equipment
that allowed them to plant and harvest additional land.