I O W A — Statistics Proving It to be a Great and Growing State
Oxford Mirror, an issue from 1881 or 1882
In its description of the “Great Northwest”, the Chicago Times has the following to say about this state:
Iowa which in 1850 ranked in the order of population as the 27th state, was in 1880 the tenth. The beauty of its scenery, the fatness of its soil and its natural good drainage, have attracted immigration not only from Europe, but from the other states at the East, and it has become populous with a rapidity never before witnessed in the history of states so purely agricultural. It is bounded on the north by Minnesota, east by Wisconsin and Illinois, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river, south by Missouri, and west by Nebraska, from which it is separated by the Missouri river. The population of the state in 1810 was 43,112; in 1830, 192,214; in 1860, 674,948; in 1870, 1,182,933, and in 1880, 1,624,483. The state extends 208 miles from north to south, and 300 miles from east to west, and has an area of 55,045 square miles, or 35,228,800 acres. Notwithstanding the rapid increase of population, there is still room for “millions more”. According to the census of 1880, there were in Iowa only about 30 people to the square mile, whereas in Belgium there are 469; in Great Britain and Ireland, 268; in Austria-Hungary, 138; in France, 180; in Germany, 201.
The surface of the state is uniform, nowhere rising to an elevation which can be called a mountain, but is in fact, a vast plain, lying slightly inclined toward the south and east, the northwest corner of the state being about eight hundred feet higher than the southeast corner, and more than three-fourths of the state being drained by streams flowing to the southeast. Probably nine-tenths of the eastern and a still larger proportion of the western half of Iowa is prairie land. The timber is generally found skirting the streams, while the prairie occupies the whole of the higher portion of the country. There is no question about the healthfulness of the climate. There is an abundance of pure running water, and malarial disease are rarely encountered. Observations covering a series of years show that spring and summer are decidedly warmer and winter colder in the Mississippi valley than in the same latitude farther east. Statistics also show that while the rainfall during the year in the Mississippi valley within the limits of the state is large, being fully equal to that on the Atlantic coast, there is a relative increase in the quantity fall, spring, and summer, and a very considerable decrease in winter. It is to these peculiarities, of the climate, which insure heat and moisture during the growing season, no less than to the extreme richness of the soil, that the celebrity of Iowa as an agricultural state is to be attributed.
The crops. Ninety-five percent of the surface of Iowa is pronounced by the state geologist to be tillable. The prairies, even in the wildest state, are fields ready for the plow without preparation, and the richness of the soil is so pronounced that the most exhausting crops in long succession will not impoverish it. With agricultural capabilities almost beyond computation, it is plain that farming must ever remain the principal industry of the people.
Indian corn is the great staple product. The yield is ordinarily from 50 to 75 bushels per acre, but in some localities successive years have given from 100 to 125 bushels. The crop in 1880 is placed by the secretary of the State Agricultural society at 230,633,200 bushels. Middle and Western Iowa are well adapted to the growth of wheat. The spring variety is the most cultivated, and yields, with ordinary care and a good season, from 20 to 30 bushels to the acre. Winter wheat is also raised to some extent. Barley, oats, and flax are extensively cultivated. Potatoes and roots of all kinds yield enormously, the crop approximating 20,000,000 bushels. Sorghum is produced in all parts of the state, and improved machinery and increased knowledge have enabled the manufacturer to turn out a delicious article of syrup. The value of the grass crop it would be difficult to estimate. It is the main food of the stock for several months in the year, and has a steady value in the market.
In 1870 Iowa contained 9,396,167 acres of improved land, 2,324,796 of wood land and 3,620,533 of other unimproved land. The number of farms was 116,202 of which 34,041 contained from 20 to 50 acres; 41,272 from 50 to 100; 30,142 from 100 to 500; 321 from 500 to 1,000; and 38 over 1,000. The cash value of these farms was $302,662,441: of farming machinery and implements, $20,509,582; wages paid during the year $9,366,878; estimated value of all farm productions, $114,368,441; value of orchard products $1,075,169; of garden products $244,962; of forest products $1,200,468; of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter, $23,781,223; of live stock $22,987,133; of home manufactures $521,404. Land in Iowa is being sold off very fast. In the northern portion of the state there was sold last year by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railway land department 150,000 acres to actual settlers. This exemplifies the fact that Iowa land is being quite rapidly taken up.
Disclaimer: there might be errors in the above text and numbers due to the difficulty in reading the copy of the article. Greater accuracy might be achieved by enlarging the article before printing. JN, typist.