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Missouri River—West

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Within this region, two of Iowa's largest cities—Council Bluffs and Sioux City—were platted as early as the 1850s. The wide Missouri River provided the initial steamboat transporttation in the area, but by the mid-1860s the great transcontinental railroads had penetrated the region. Both Council Bluffs (along with Omaha, Nebraska, across the Missouri) and Sioux City developed into and have remained major regional shipping points for agricultural products and cattle. Transport by water and rail gave way by the mid-1920s to shipping via trucks using the new concrete highways. The location of Council Bluffs and Sioux City adjacent to the river meant that their commercial/industrial areas developed on the river flats, while their residential districts eventually spread over the bluffs and high hills overlooking the river valley or its secondary rivers and streams.

Surprisingly for an area this far to the west, there are a number of well-preserved buildings in the late Federal and Greek Revival styles to be found in Council Bluffs as well as in a good number of smaller towns and out in the countryside. Sioux City was once the state's prime center for large-scaled stone Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne dwellings of the 1880s and 1890s. Many of these are gone, but a few splendid examples remain. As in other sections of the state, public buildings, banks, and dwellings in the Prairie style are found in large and small towns, the center being Sioux City, with its famed Woodbury County Courthouse.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

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