Why Two Cities in the Deep South Are Named After the State of Iowa
I'm not sure how many states there are across the U.S. that have cities named after them, but I was surprised to learn that Iowa has two of them. They're both in the deep south and were named after the state of Iowa for pretty much the same reason.
If you want to change your surroundings/climate for warmer temperatures but still want to call Iowa (pronounced Eye-uh-wuh) home, you won't want to move to the first city I'm going to tell you about.
The photo at the top of this story is from Iowa, Louisiana. In this instance, it's pronounced Eye'-oh-way. Iowa, Louisiana is less than 15 minutes east of Lake Charles, and only about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. While Lake Charles received much of the national attention after two hurricanes (Laura and Delta) in 2020, Iowa was hit very hard as well. This photo shows a home in Iowa, Louisiana left damaged and surrounded by water:
Back to that warmer climate thing for a moment... this is what it looked like in Iowa, Louisiana five years ago this month:
If you too didn't realize there was an Iowa, Louisiana, you (and me) weren't alone:
I love this picture too:
So how did a city in the state of Louisiana get to be named Iowa? According to Louisiana Travel, it was named "after the northern Midwest state from which (settlers) migrated."
Iowa, Lousiana's Wikipedia page explains this a bit further: "The railroad that cut through this country brought settlers who were lured to the prairie land for rice farming, cattle raising and later oil fields... Seaman A. Knapp, president of the Iowa State College of Agriculture, was engaged in 1885 to demonstrate the suitability of the region for rice production. Knapp attracted a number of Iowans to settle the area." How did people from the state of Iowa learn about the possibilities of Louisiana? From newspaper ads that encouraged them to make the move south.
You can learn more about the history of Iowa, Louisiana in the video below. Check out the image of the city's water tower below. Looks like it belongs next to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, doesn't it?
Now, on to the other city in the deep south that has Iowa in its name.
Iowa Park, Texas is about 10 miles west of Wichita Falls in the north-central part of the state. As you might expect, they know a thing or two about inclement weather:
The north Texas community would become a township in 1882. At that time, it was known as Daggett Switch, named after a switch on the railroad. By 1888, it had a post office. It was incorporated as the town of Iowa Park, Texas in 1891. The same year, a fire destroyed most of the town.
Iowa Park bounced back from the fire, with a population of almost 800 people by 1900. Always a popular area for cattle ranches, oil was discovered just south of the city in the late 1910s. It helped spur Iowa Park to a population of more than 2,000 by 1926.
The 1928 photo below is of the Iowa Park, Texas fire department:
So how did Iowa Park get its name? A page on the city's history indicates the reason is very similar to the one behind the naming of Iowa, Louisiana:
"After the town site was laid out, the Texas Panhandle Company organized an immigration train from Iowa to the area." Another site says the name Iowa Park was "influenced by the number of settlers from Iowa."
Iowa Park, Texas now has a population of 6,571. The mascot for its high school team? Well, it's the Hawks, of course.