Des Moines’ situation at the convergence of two waterways – the Des Moines and the Racoon Rivers – has been something of a mixed blessing for Iowa’s capital city. Des Moines likely has the rivers to thank for its very existence: they created a strategic place for the founding of a fort that bore the name of the future city. Furthermore, the Des Moines River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, so integral for so long to commerce in this country.
However, the Flood of 1851 all but destroyed the fledgling port city. Settlement of the area had occurred less than ten years before, and there were no real floodworks to speak of. By 1993, there were plenty, but they were no match for the Great Flood of that year.
Still, it takes more than floodwaters to stymie the growth of a resilient city. Des Moines survived to become a cultural center for Iowa, as well as the home of that state’s capital. From its Art Center and its outdoor sculpture park to its historic, imposing manors and even a nearby amusement park, Iowa’s capital city has something to offer everyone.
Worth Checking Out
- Des Moines Art Center
- Pappajohn Sculpture Park
- Salisbury House and Gardens
- Adventureland Park