Wild Category - Prairie History

Take a step back in time. Experience the tallgrass prairie as Pioneers saw it and the Native Americans experienced it. This vast land was a way of life for those already here, an opportunity for those moving westward, and sometimes a hardship for those who stayed.

Visit where Native Americans encamped, gathering for trade and ceremonial activities. Discover what their lives may have been like before settlers arrived on the scene.

Learn of the pioneers who came to Northwest Iowa. They settled on the open prairie and found it was the best soil in the world!

Step back and experience our local history!

A Century of Change:

In the 1800’s, Iowans changed the face of this state more than any other place in the nation. The blanket of prairie covering the “Land Between Two Rivers” was transformed by 1900.

Non-Indian settlement officially began on June 1, 1833 when the first settlers claimed land in the Black Hawk Purchase on the west side of the Mississippi River.

Iowa became a state in 1846, with 96,088 residents. The state’s population steadily increased to top one million in 1870. In 1900, there were 2.2 million people compared to 2.9 million people today.

The lack of trees in northwest Iowa may have briefly delayed the rush for land in this corner of the state, but after the Civil War there was major push of pioneers onto the prairie. The threat of Indian activity slowed expansion to the northwest corner until the 1870’s.

Once farmers came to the area, it took less than 10 years for the “frontier” to become agricultural land. By 1900, Euro-American settlers had claimed nearly all of Iowa’s 36 million acres as farmland.

The Prairie History Loop (and Wild Sites) covers a nine county area. You may want to visit the Wild Site choices linked above to learn more about them each, or all. Each Wild Site also has an embedded Google Map with it as well as driving directions to the site's parking lot.
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