Iowa History Timeline: Text Version


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
U.S. Event

Farmers Experience Crisis

Prices for agricultural products and farm land fell drastically. Many farmers and farm-related industries, such as implement dearlerships and manufacturers, went broke.

Find out more about the economics of farming in Iowa.

Iowa Event

Iowa's population: 2,913,808

Federal Census of Iowa's population: 2,913,808

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

U.S. Event

First Women on Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. Event

First Space Shuttle

The first space shuttle was launched.

U.S. Event

First Woman in Space

Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel in space.

Iowa Event

State Parks Increase

The number of state parks had increased to 101.

Find out more about Iowa's state parks.

Iowa Event

Wagering on Dogs Becomes Legal

The Iowa legislature passed the Pari-mutuel Wagering Act which opened the state up to greyhound and horse racing. Construction began on Dubuque Greyhound Park, Iowa's first dog track.

Find out more about how laws are made in Iowa.

U.S. Event

India Disaster

A fertilizer plant leaked gas in the Indian town of Bhopal causing the deaths of 2000 people.

Iowa Event

First Iowa Lottery Game Begins

A law requiring the creation of a state lottery was signed by Governor Terry Branstad in April 1985. Iowa's first scratch ticket, "Scratch, Match & Win," first sold on August 22, 1985. The introduction of a state lottery was one of the first of many laws that would bring more forms of gambling to the state.

Find out more about lawmaking in Iowa.

Iowa Event

First Woman Appointed to Iowa Supreme Court

Justice Linda K. Neuman became the first woman appointed to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Find out more about the Iowa Supreme Court.


Iowa Event

First Woman Elected Iowa Lieutenant Governor

Lieutenant Governor Jo Ann Zimmerman was the first woman to hold this executive office in Iowa.

Find out more about government in Iowa.

U.S. Event

Chernobyl Disaster Occurs

An explosion occurred at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Russia. Over 2,000 square miles were evacuated.

U.S. Event

Challenger Accident

The Space Shuttle, Challenger, exploded 73 seconds after launch. Seven crew members were killed.

Iowa Event

Field of Dreams Filmed in Dyersville

Released in 1989, "Field of Dreams" featured the story of an Iowa corn farmer compelled to build a baseball diamond to bring back the Chicago Black Sox baseball team of long ago. Filmed in Dyersville, this Oscar-nominated film starred Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster.

Find out more about the arts in Iowa.

Iowa Event

Soy Ink

Sharen Brower of Newell, Iowa, invented a new kind of ink made from soybeans. It was more environmentally friendly than previous inks.

Find out more about soy ink.

U.S. Event

Berlin Wall Torn Down

The Berlin Wall was torn down. The Cold War was over.

Iowa Event

Flight 232 Crashes in Sioux City

On July 19, 1989, United Airlines flight 232 was heading from Denver to Chicago when it crashed on the runway at the Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City after suffering a mechanical failure. Of those aboard, 112 died and 184 survived.

It was considered the worst aviation disaster in the state, and one of the most well-recognized air disasters in American aviation history, largely due to the presence of media near the air field as the plane attempted to land. The incident was made the subject of the 1992 television movie, "Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232."

Find out about air travel in Iowa.

Questions to Consider:
When viewing information in the timeline, consider the following questions:

  • What time in history did this event occur? What else was happening at that time?
  • What events led to this event? What events followed it? Does this event begin or end something? Is this event part of a sequence of other events?
  • How did this event influence the present? How might it influence our future?


Several entries for this timeline were adapted from Prairie Voices Iowa Heritage Curriculum, Annotated Iowa History Timeline, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1995. Used with permission.

Additional Sources:

  • Agriculture in the Classroom: Growing a Nation: The Story of American Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Discovering Historic Iowa Transportation Milestones, Iowa Department of Transportation, 2000.
  • Downey, Mathew T. American History 1 and 2. Chicago: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
  • History and Life: The World and Its People. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1980.
  • Keenan, Sheila. Scholastic Encyclopedia of Women in the United States. New York: Scholastic Reference, 1996.
  • National Standards for History, UCLA National Center for History in the Schools, 1996.
  • Randy Lyon, This Month In Iowa History, State Historical Society of Iowa.
  • The Challenge of Freedom. River Forest, Illinois: Laidlaw Brothers, 1982.
  • William Kovarik, Ph.D., Environmental History Timeline, Radford University,
  • World Adventures in Time and Place. New York: Macmillan McGraw-Hill, 1997.

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