Glawe's Outlook

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A state of trivia

I came across an interesting book in my son's collection. He always enjoyed trivia or all sorts, sports and any book that listed stats or records he could get his hands on.

This one that struck my eye contains trivia about Iowa and is quite interesting. I learned a lot about the state by looking it over - maybe some of these bits and pieces will be of interest to you as well.

* Des Moines was originally named Fort Raccoon.

* Burlington has a street designated by Ripley's Believe it or Not as the crookedest street in the world. It is called Snake Alley.

* The state's five largest natural lakes are East Okoboji, West Okoboji, Clear, Spirit and Storm.

* Originally the name of the city Atlantic was to be Pacific.

* The Eskimo Pie ice cream treat was invented in Onawa in 1920.

* The state of Iowa is 324 miles wide from east to west and the most common translation of the Indian word Iowa is "Beautiful land."

* Primghar was named after the first letters of the surnames of the eight most prominent citizens. (How many times do you suppose they put those letter together to come up with something that sounded right?!)

* John I. Blair, builder of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroads and director of 17 railroads has two towns named after him - Blairstown and Blairsburg. Alta is named after his daughter. (It has always been my understanding that Aurelia is also named after a daughter of the same name but the book did not indicate that.) Marcus was named after one of Blair's sons.

* The towns of Mallard, Plover and Curlew were named by railroad owner and avid hunter Charles Whitehead, for some of his favorite prey.

* The town of Rudd was named for a man of the same name after he said he would give up $1,000 for a new church. He never paid up.

* There have been many entertainers who had connections to Iowa including Tom Brokaw and Gene Wilder (both attended University of Iowa), Oscar winner Donna Reed (born in Denison), singer Andy Williams (born in Wall Lake), big band leader Glenn Miller (born in Clarinda), Leave it to Beaver star Jerry Mathers (born in Sioux City), William "Fred Mertz" Frawley (born in Burlington), Ruth E. Smith (born in Marshalltown) was one of the munchkins in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and cowboy legend John Wayne (born in Winterset).

* Sac County is recognized as the popcorn capital of the world and for having a 23' popcorn ball to prove it. Indianola is known as the "Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World." Des Moines was where a hundred volunteers built a 52' high x32' square gingerbread house in 1988. The Clay County Fair is acclaimed "The World's Greatest County Fair" and Kalona and Lamoni claim to be "The Quilt Capitals of Iowa". LeMars is known as "The Ice Cream Capital of the World" and Newton is known as "The Home Laundry Appliance Center of the World."

I will share more another day so that when you strike up a conversation, you can throw in something new you have learned about Iowa.