Car stuck in muddy road. ca. 1920.

Transportation

If you've ever hiked through a woods or traveled down a river in one of Iowa's state parks you get an idea of what transportation meant to native Iowans. Even in those early days there were systems of moving goods and people from one place to another. 

Because rivers form Iowa’s boundaries and flow through the interior of the state, they became a major form of transportation. Flatboats, keelboats, steamboats and barges carried settlers and goods into and out of the state. Railroads replaced rivers as movers of people and goods and are still important today. Electric streetcars carried city dwellers through busy streets. Automobiles depended on good roads, but it took time and money to establish a system of highways. And airplanes have been a major part of Iowa’s transportation story for many years. 

From moving goods and people by foot—to modern highways and air travel—Iowa’s transportation continues to change the way we move around.

The Undiscovered Western United States, 1656

The Undiscovered Western United States, 1656

A map of the undiscovered western United States. This early map shows how little was known about the western part of North America in 1656.

Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division