Skip to main content

March is Iowa History Month (and pop quiz time!)

Date: Thursday, February 20, 2020

In your preparation for Iowa History Month next month, we have resources for you and, yes, some fun historical facts.

Listen to a webinar hosted by the Iowa Department of Education’s Social Studies Consultant Stefanie Wager. The webinar walks you through Iowa history resources available to teachers.

Other resources (there are literally dozens) include anything from stories about Iowans who made a difference to the state’s outstanding civil rights record.

OK, pop quiz time. Answers are at the bottom of the page. True or false:

  1. The idiom “it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread” is the result of an Iowan’s hard toils.
  2. The Iowa State Fair has always been in Des Moines.
  3. Iowans overwhelming voted for Abraham Lincoln.
  4. Iowa has the shortest, steepest railroad in the world.
  5. One of Iowa’s biggest crops used to be apples.
  6. The origins of the state’s name are debated.



  1. True. Sliced bread was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport. He created the first prototype of a single loaf bread-slicing machine in 1912; it wasn’t until 1928 that the invention became a commercial success.
  2. False. The first Iowa State Fair was held October 25-27, 1854, in Fairfield. After that, it migrated to several towns until 1886, when it took up residence in its current location in Des Moines.
  3. True. The vast majority of Iowans were against slavery, and there were several Underground Railroads that winded their ways throughout the state. Over 75,000 Iowans enlisted to fight for the Union.
  4. True. Fenelon Place in Dubuque was built in 1893, after the first one was consumed by fire. The reason it was built in the first place? A businessman lived up the hill from his downtown work site. Though by way the crow flies he was only two-and-a-half blocks from work, it took him a full half hour to navigate his horse and buggy up the winding road. He built it, and shaved his commute time to two minutes.
  5. True. At one point, Iowa was sixth in production of apples in the country. But in 1940, a severe freeze virtually wiped out the state’s trees.
  6. False. The state name is derived from the Iowa Native American people who once inhabited the area.