That's a First
There's a first time for everything. In Iowa, visitors are invited to experience the important people, structures and inventions that have secured their place as the first in history.
* Reaching for the stars in Iowa got much easier in 1951 when the state's first planetarium opened in Cherokee. Named the Sanford Museum and Planetarium, this northwest Iowa attraction offers exhibits, demonstrations and activities throughout the year. Programs in 2003 include insightful lectures on topics ranging from Lewis and Clark to agriculture to the Orphan Train. In the planetarium, guests are invited to enjoy shows on the last Sunday of each month at 2:00 p.m. Programs about constellations and other meteorological topics are scheduled throughout the week.
* Fort Dodge claims another of the state's first - the Blanden Memorial Art Museum. As the state's original art museum, the Blanden boasts world-class collections including the works of local talent and renowned international artists. Situated in a parklike setting, the museum features early 20th century American works, and Oriental, African and European works. Amateur creators are also invited to take part in Blanden's many art classes for kids, teens, adults and families. Music and literary events round out the museum's diverse activities for visitors.
* Two northern Iowa communities are home to major inventions that transformed life in Iowa. The world's first successful tractor was invented in Monona in 1892. Today the Froelich Historic Site - also in Monona - is home to a scale model of that tractor. The machine's antique reference papers are also on hand at the museum.
* Farther west in Osage, the Cedar Valley Memories Museum is home to Iowa's first gas powered car. The facility also includes one of the upper Midwest's largest collections of rare steam engines, including a Reeves 40-140 cross compound tractor, a 1913 Case model 110, a 1910 Phoenix caterpillar log hauler, a 1922 32-hp Advance-Rumley and an 1878 Bluementrit two-cylinder. A show held annually on the second weekend of August features threshing and plowing demonstrations and showcases antique cars.
* Though he was not a native of the Hawkeye State, Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark on Iowa in the form of several unique architectural masterpieces. In 1908, Wright's Stockman House - his first residential creation in Iowa - was constructed in Mason City. Dr. George Stockman and his wife, Eleanor, asked Wright to design them this four-bedroom house. At the time, Wright was already in the community designing the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel. Completely refurbished and decorated in the arts and crafts style, the home is the only example of Wright's "Prairie School" style architecture that is open to the public.