A website that’s now visible to the public shows the locations of 123,000 points of interest all across Iowa. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has spent months compiling the master list, including everything from major tourist attractions to pioneer-era cemeteries.
Berry Bennett, at the State Historic Preservation Office, says it’s a detailed map and you can zoom in on whatever site you choose. Bennett says, “We have everything from about 6,000 bridges, we have historic houses, we have the 2,000-plus properties on the National Register in Iowa, there are statues, things like the carousel up in Story City.”
The online map wasn’t initially created for public consumption, Bennett says, but at the request of the U.S. government. “Federal agencies need to know with their projects whether they’re going to impact historical, architectural or archeological properties,” Bennett says.
“This will give them the chance to look at the area they’re going to impact and see whether we have anything in that area.” This marks the first time the statewide inventory of Iowa’s cultural resources is available to the public in this format.
He says the treasure trove of data has been years in the making as most locations were only marked on paper maps before. “We had files all over the office from when we first opened in the 1970s,” Bennett says, “and in the mid-90s, we started putting information into a database.”
That database includes information about nearly 114,000 historical and architectural properties and 3,500 cemeteries. Information in each property file ranges from a single picture to a full National Register nomination, newspaper clippings and project reports.
The map will be used by historic preservationists, archaeologists and just members of the general public who may want to do research or sight-seeing.