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Iowa Discoveries

I run into some pretty interesting things while putting together The Iowan that don’t make it into print. I thought I’d share some of them with you here each Friday morning.
 
If you don’t mind, I’ll also ask your opinions, advice, and suggestions from time to time about subjects and story ideas we’re considering. I’d love to get your feedback — leave a comment below, or email me at editor@iowan.com. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Happy Friday!
 
Dan Weeks
Editor

April 22, 2016

From the Only in Iowa department: according to this article in the Hampton Chronicle, Iowa will now be the only place in the world where you can willingly sentence yourself to a jail term without having committed a crime. Yep, for a yet-undisclosed price, you will soon be able to...

April 15, 2016

Des Moines has been home to a legion of salt-of-the-earth people — and one real lu-lu. Alfred Lawson has left no trace on Des Moines. But if the ground could speak, it would tell the story of a bizarre persona who went from professional baseball player to aviation pioneer to...

April 8, 2016

Salem, Massachusetts, has nothing on Cantril, Iowa. Salem has the storied House of Seven Gables, which titled a Nathanial Hawthorne novel. Cantril has the Barn of Eight Dormers (only seven of which can be seen in the accompanying photo). But its story has yet to be told — or at...

April 1, 2016

Why did the black cat climb the bale? 1.     It’s a sentry cat. They all do that. 2.     It was chased up there by a family of marauding opossum. Now it can’t get down. 3.     It liked the view. 4.     It’s waiting for the tractor with the bale fork to...

March 25, 2016

“Iowa Nice” doesn’t go nearly far enough. We Iowans are virtual saints — and we can prove it. A group of researchers decided to map the prevalence of the seven deadly sins by state. Areas of the United States were shaded on a continuum of green (saintly) to red (devilish)....

March 15, 2016

Is it just me, or does Iowa inhabit a geographic blind spot in the American consciousness? It often seems that if you’re not from here — or at least from the Midwest — you probably don’t know where or what Iowa is. The T-shirt they used to sell in Iowa...

March 4, 2016

When she talks, Iowans and the nation listen. She’s been called “the great,” the “most respected,” and simply “the best” by pundits and media of all political persuasions. And she’s not even running for president. If she were, watch out, because she understands voters—particularly Iowa voters—like no one else. It’s...

February 26, 2016

Apparently, Iowa has one-third less history than it did when the Iowa State Historical Society building opened in 1987. That could be one conclusion after hearing the State Of Iowa’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ plan to tear down a third of the State Historical Society building just west of the...

February 19, 2016

0 0 1 416 2373 Pioneer Communications 19 5 2784 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-style-parent:""; font-size:12.0pt;} The Situation is Grave. Quick —let’s head to What Cheer! Bizarre. That’s the only way to describe some Iowa place names. We’ve...

February 12, 2016

Welcome to Nodaway—or perhaps Sangamon.  Neil Freedman, an artist and urban planner, thought our state boundaries were a bit arbitrary. So he redrew the United States map into something he calls the Electoral Reform Map. Each “state” on the map has approximately 6,175,000 inhabitants, or roughly 1/50th of the U.S....

February 5, 2016

 1. When your officemates suggest going out to lunch in an Iowa blizzard, do you a)    tell them they’re crazy and that you should all stay inside until rescued by the National Guard, or b)   say, “Sure, why not? I’ll drive!”? 2. When asked by a nervous colleague in the...

January 29, 2016

“Everyone knows it’s Windy.” Or so say the lyrics of The Association’s 1967 sunshine pop song Windy.     But exactly how windy is it?   Ah, wouldn’t you like to know! Me, too. So the other day as I battled a howling westerly while driving to Council Bluffs, I...

January 22, 2016

 Which technique do you use? 1. Shock and awe. You attack snow early and often with an overwhelming show of technology and force. This guy, pictured, clears the sidewalk across the street from The Iowan’s Des Moines, Iowa offices. Some of us might use a shovel and be done in a...

January 15, 2016

It has been a pretty balmy week for mid-January in most of Iowa. The only thing sparkling out my office window are salt crystals on bare sidewalks. But just so you don’t get too complacent, remember that this, pictured, is what Iowa is supposed to look like in the grip...

January 8, 2016

Thanks in part to our story “The Wisdom of Bison” in our current January/February 2016 issue, bison have a pretty high profile in Iowa these days. At least one wishes he’d stayed off the hilltop. A few years ago at the Neil Smith National Wildlife refuge near Prairie City, Karen...

January 1, 2016

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December 25, 2015

 We at The Iowan hope you have much to celebrate today.

December 18, 2015

“You must have beautiful sunsets,” I said to the woman sitting next to me. We were  riding a Greyhound bus rolling down Highway 6 in mid-afternoon. It was my first day in Iowa. “Oh!” she said. “You have no idea!” In the 40 years that have followed, I’ve never tired...

December 11, 2015

You have no idea what a really big deal ice cream is in Le Mars until you go there. Giant ice cream cone sculptures stud the sidewalks. A block-long mural fancifully depicts an Iowa field sewn in row-crops of frozen novelties. Another congratulates hometown Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream on...

November 20, 2015

Bus ditchings, motorcycle accidents, bicycle roulette: Getting to work in Des Moines is half the fun. At least it used to be. Now, I understand, Des Moines has 61 miles of bike paths, 31 miles of bike lanes, and bus ridership increased 9% this year. Busses even have bike racks...

August 28, 2015

Last fall, I wrote what turned out to be one of our most-read blog posts. It talks about just one of dozens of stops we made touring Iowa’s Great River road for our cover feature in the new September/October issue of The Iowan magazine, on sale September 1. In case...

August 21, 2015

Hold on, people. Not since Riverside was pronounced the future birthplace of Star Trek’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk in 1985 has an Iowa metropolis received such a global honor as did Ottumwa last Sunday. At 11:00 a.m. on August 16, a 220-lb. bronze plaque was unveiled there that “in time...

August 14, 2015

As any Iowan knows, there’s lots of great stuff to see and do at that beacon of prairie culture — that Midwestern Mecca — known as the Iowa State Fair. There’s also lots written and said every year about the event’s can’t-miss attractions. But — unpopular as it may be...

August 7, 2015

Think you know Iowa? Ok, then, here’s an easy question: What do we have more of than any other state? Hogs? Nope. Corn? Apparently not. Hawkeye and Cyclone fans? I don’t think they were counting those. Here, are some warm-up questions to get you going and rule out a few...

July 31, 2015

Can you define what’s unique about Iowa in a sentence? Can anyone?  Some have tried. Those below were posted on various Web sites, discussion groups, and forums. According to a random sample of Iowans, ex-Iowans, returning Iowans, and visitors, Iowa is:    “Home to three million people, some really sweet...

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