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Archive for December 28th, 2008

On December 28, 1846, Iowa was admitted to the Union as its 29th state.   And having lived here all my life, I think I can speak with some degree of knowledge about it.

Iowa is decidedly average, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  With roughly 3 million people, it ranks 30th in population.  It’s 26th in physical size, and 24th in median income.  And its location, pretty much right in the middle of the country, only adds to the averageness.  But one of my previous jobs involved a lot of travel, and having criss-crossed the state a bunch of times, I can safely say there’s a lot of neat stuff here.

If you’re interested in the past, there are numerous places that take you back in time.  The Amana Colonies near Cedar Rapids, the Amish enclaves just an hour to the south around Kalona, or Living History Farms in Des Moines.

If the future is your thing, you’ll be happy to know that Iowa boasts one of the largest wind farms in the world.  Apparently, the way the winds blow across the north-central and northwest part of the state make it ideal for wind turbines.

And while we may not have nearly as many lakes as our neighbor to the north, we have plenty of good ones, including our own set of Great Lakes (Spirit Lake, East & West Lake Okiboji), located in the state’s northwest corner.

Like to bike?  We’ve got hundreds of miles of bike trails throughout the state.  And every year, thousands of cyclists participate in RAGBRAI, traversing the state from west to east over the course of a week.

Iowa is also home to some pretty famous people, all of which have historical sites you can visit.  A President (Herbert Hoover, born in West Branch), a Vice-President (Henry Wallace, born in Orient), and the wife of a President (Mamie Eisenhower, born in Boone) are all Iowans.  John Wayne (who we’ve discussed before) was born in Winterset, and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson resides just north of Des Moines.

Of course, Iowa is best known for agriculture.  Primary row crops include corn, soybeans, and some oats.  Animal livestock is also important to the state, with pigs, cattle (both beef and dairy), and chickens leading the way.

I know you’re probably still full of Christmas candy and Yuletide treats (heck, maybe you’re still eating them), but find a way to celebrate anyways.  If you have friends in Iowa (and we’re generally really friendly, so you likely do), give them a quick call to say congratulations.

Happy Birthday, Iowa!!

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