The state of Iowa has been my home since I took my first breath. After all these years, I felt like I knew just about all there was to know about the Hawkeye State. I was wrong.

Here are a few things I didn't know.

Iowa's Island Town Wasn't Always an Island

You're probably familiar with Sabula, Iowa's only town on an island. It sits on the Mississippi River in Jackson County. However, did you know it wasn't always an island? It was attached, if you will, to the rest of Iowa until the locks and dams were built along the river in 1939. They were designed to make river travel easier for towboats. The process put the western part of the town underwater.

Sabula was founded in 1835, only two years after Iowa's oldest town of Dubuque. It now has just over 500 residents. The island town is about a quarter-of-a-mile wide and is just a mile long. Below is the road into town.

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The Largest Rural Danish Settlement in the United States is in Iowa

The only operating, authentic Danish windmill in the U.S. was brought from Denmark to Iowa in 1976. More than 300 people helped reconstruct the windmill that was originally built in 1848. Today, it stands in Elk Horn as a testament to the area's heritage and the largest rural Danish settlement in the U.S. People from Denmark began arriving in the area in 1867.

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The Red Delicious Apple Originated in Iowa

Madison County isn't just home to some beautiful covered bridges, it's also where the Red Delicious apple originated. According to Iowa Backroads, a nursery in Louisiana conducted a contest in the early 1890s. Their goal was to replace a bland-tasting apple that's popularity was waning. Jesse Hiatt of East Peru, Iowa was the winner. He sold the nursery the rights to the apple which they began calling "Delicious".

By the 1980s, almost 75 percent of apples grown in the state of Washington were Red Delicious. Washington is the top apple producer in America. Iowa isn't in the top ten.

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The First Female Lawyer in America Was an Iowan

Arabella Mansfield was born in 1846. She didn't attend law school, instead spending two years studying for the bar exam at her brother-in-law's southeast Iowa law office. Despite a state law that allowed only white men over 21 to take the bar exam, Mansfield did just that in 1869. She passed, making her Iowa's first woman lawyer.

Mansfield didn't end up practicing law, though. She spent her professional career as a professor at Iowa Wesleyan College before becoming a dean at a university in Indiana.

A leader in the suffrage movement to get women the right to vote, Mansfield passed away in 1911. The 19th Amendment would be ratified in Iowa eight years later. In 1980, she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Human Rights of Iowa
Human Rights of Iowa
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Iowa is Only State Bordered by Navigable Rivers

That's right, none of the other 49 states are bordered by two rivers that can be navigated. They also happen to be the two longest rivers in the U.S.

From its start in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, the Missouri River eventually joins the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. The longest river in North America, and #4 in the world, it is 2,300 miles long. 179 of those miles are on Iowa's western border.

On the east side is the Mississippi River. It travels over 2,200 miles... the only other river in North America that's more than 2,000 miles long. Over 40 percent of the continental United States drains into the mighty Mississippi, with 312 miles of the river making up Iowa's eastern border.

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Do you know any other fascinating facts about Iowa? Please share them below.

Iowa's Island City

There is something unique about every town, but there is really something special about Sabula, IA. Known as "Iowa's Island City," Sabula is the only town in the state of Iowa that is entirely on an island. While not a lot of people have been to, or live in Sabula, it is a quaint little town nestled right on the Mississippi River.

Before we show you around "Iowa's Island City," let me give you the history of Sabula. Sabula was established in 1835, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis. Isaac Dorman and a man named Hinkley crossed the river from the Illinois side on a log and decided to settle on what is now Sabula. An Ohio couple, James and Margaret Woods would settle on Sabula about a year later in April of 1836. Their son, Dr. E. A. Woods would purchase Hinkley's interest in the claim. Charles Swan and W. H. Brown would soon purchase Dorman's interest. The three men, Woods, Swan and Brown later had the land plotted in 1837.

The idea behind plotting the land was because there was no town between Lyons (north Clinton) and Bellevue. The plot of the new town was recorded in Dubuque as this area was part of Dubuque county at the time, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis.

According to Island City Harbor's website, Sabula went through a few names before landing on the official town name. In 1837, Sabula was first called Carrollport. Residents of the town didn't like the name because there was a man's name who was Carroll who had a bad reputation. The town changed its name to Charleston, after early settler Charles Swan. The only issue was that there was already a town called Charleston in Iowa which caused much confusion.

In 1846 the settler’s decided to find a name. Island City Harbor's website says that because of it’s sandy soil, William Hubble suggested the town be called "Sabulum" which is Latin for sand. A party was being held around the time the town name was being discussed, when a woman, supposed to be Miss Harriet Hudson, suggested the town be called Sabula as it was easier to pronounce and sounded more elegant, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis.

Sabula did not actually become an island until 1939. According to Wikipedia, in the 1930's, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the lock and dam system. In 1939, Lock and Dam No. 13 between Clinton, IA and Fulton, IL was built which caused the bottomlands west of the town permanently flooded. With the Mississippi River east of the town, this created the "Island City." A levee was built around Sabula in 1957 for protection, according to Island City Harbor's website. This also allowed for the south sand pit to be turned into a boat harbor.

I would like to thank my mom Beth, her fiancé Matt, my brother Nolan and my wife Ellie for accompanying me to Sabula. We always have a blast on our trips and this one was no exception.

It's now time to introduce you to Sabula, Iowa, Iowa's Island City.

Free or Cheap Iowa Road Trip Destinations

Want to have some summer staycation fun... on a budget? It's easy to do in Iowa!