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Crazy Laws in the State of Iowa and Fun Facts

Updated on July 14, 2015
I hate it when some wise guy requests the "Minute Waltz."
I hate it when some wise guy requests the "Minute Waltz." | Source

Crazy Laws in the State of Iowa and Fun Facts

Iowa has some crazy, bizarre laws regarding one-armed piano players, fire hydrant-nibbling horses, and fire departments required to practice for 15 minutes before answering fire calls.

Perhaps those legislators just had too much time on their hands.

Clark Gable - 'the King'  with moustache.
Clark Gable - 'the King' with moustache. | Source

Crazy Laws in the State of Iowa

One-armed piano players must perform for free.

That discriminating law is extremely biased. One-armed piano players have to work twice as hard. They should be paid twice as much.

A man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public.

Wait a minute. Didn’t I just write about a similar law in Indiana? I did! I did! Do you think that legislator moved to Iowa?

Kisses may last for no more than five minutes.

Picture this scenario: Juliet: “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?” Romeo: “Hold your horses, Juliet, I’m looking for my stopwatch.”

Hearing aid
Hearing aid | Source

A board was created to regulate, among other things, hearing aids.

I didn’t know those darn things were irregular.

Doctors who treat a person with gonorrhea must report this to the local Board of Health and include the disease’s ‘probable origin.’

What happened to ‘physician confidentiality’? Just askin’.

All boxes used in storing hops must be exactly 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 23 ¼ inches deep, inside measure.

Save your money, beer brewers. Store your hops in zip-lock freezer bags, squeeze as much of the air out as you can before sealing, and put them in the back of your freezer.

Imitation Fortune Teller
Imitation Fortune Teller | Source

Crazy Laws in the Cities of Iowa

• In Bettendorf – Liquor stores may not place advertisements for beer outside the store.

Of course. Get the customers to enter the store first where they can view your attractive, budget-priced liquor display.

• In Cedar Rapids – it is illegal to tell fortunes or read a person’s palms in the city limits.

If you are a genuine fortune teller, wouldn’t you already know this?

• In Des Moines – no person may pick a flower from a city park.

Buy your flowers from a florist, or grow them on your own.

Don’t pick them from the park; to pay the fine you’ll need a loan.

Lead me to water and I'll drink every time.
Lead me to water and I'll drink every time. | Source

• In Dubuque – any hotel in the city limits must have a water bucket and a hitching post in front of the building.

I get the feeling this is a very, very old law.

• In Fort Madison – before the local fire department answers a fire call, they are required to practice fire fighting for 15 minutes.

Whaaat? Who tells the fire to wait?

Can you imagine this scenario: House Owner: “Help, Help, my house is on fire!”

Dispatcher – “Thank you for your call. The firemen will respond just as soon as they complete their required 15-minute practice.”

In Indianola – the ‘Ice Cream Man’ and his truck are banned.

Do you think that lawmaker was a music lover who despised ‘ice-cream-truck’ music.

Me? Eat a fire hydrant? Are you serious?
Me? Eat a fire hydrant? Are you serious? | Source

• In Marshalltown – horses are forbidden to eat fire hydrants.

Were horses really eating fire hydrants? Or just tasting them?

• In Ottumwa – within the city limits, a man may not wink at any woman he does not know.

What a blow to casual … dating.

• In Mount Vernon – softball cannot be played in the dark after 10:30 pm.

A crazy law that makes sense. How could you see the ball in the dark?

Oh, wait a minute. Perhaps the law was enacted to indicate that the lights on the softball diamond cannot stay on past 10:30 pm.

Firing missiles on any public walkway, highway or building is prohibited without written consent from the city council.

Look on the bright side. It is comforting to know that the city council members have learned to read and write.

White Cloud, Head Chief of the Ioway - National Gallery of Art (1845)
White Cloud, Head Chief of the Ioway - National Gallery of Art (1845) | Source
Fort Atkinson
Fort Atkinson | Source

Fun Facts and Illustrious Information about Iowa

Iowa derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many native American tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration.

Iowa is the only state whose name starts with two vowels.

Iowa is the only state that has two vowels as its state abbreviation (IA).

In the very first decision of the Iowa Supreme Court – In Re the Matter of Ralph, decided July 1839 – the Court rejected slavery.

The decision found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War.

The town of Fort Atkinson was the site of the only fort ever built by the U.S. government to protect one Indian tribe from another.

It was founded to protect the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) tribe from other tribes.

Fenlon Place Elevator, Dubuque
Fenlon Place Elevator, Dubuque | Source

The Fenlon Place Elevator in Dubuque built in 1893 is the world's steepest and shortest railway.

It is 296 feet long and operates from April through November.

Iowa is the only state in the United States whose eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers – the Mississippi River on the east, and the Missouri and the Big Sioux River on the west.

Cornell College, Mount Vernon, is the only school in the nation to have its entire campus listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Iowa produces 1/10 of our nation's food supply and is the number one producer of corn and soybeans.

Iowa is the largest producer of ethanol among all the states in the U.S. With 43 ethanol refineries, the state produced a record 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014.

Meskwaki Indians who established settlement 1857
Meskwaki Indians who established settlement 1857 | Source

The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama County is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa. The name is derived from the Meskwaki creation myth, in which their mythological hero, Wisaka, created the first humans out of red clay.

They called themselves Meshkwahkihaki which means ‘the Red-Earths.’

Roseman Bridge
Roseman Bridge | Source

Covered Bridges in Madison County

There are six covered bridges in Madison County:

  • Cedar Bridge built 1883, 76 feet long.
  • Cutler-Donahoe Bridge built 1870, 79 feet long.
  • Hogback Covered Bridge built 1884, 97 feet long.
  • Holliwell Bridge built 1880, 122 feet long.
  • Imes Bridge built 1870, 81 feet long.
  • Roseman Covered Bridge built 1883, 107 feet long.

The movie, “The Bridges of Madison County,” based on the popular novel of the same name, took place and was filmed in Winterset, Madison County in 1995. It stars Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Roseman Covered Bridge was featured in the film.

Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911)
Arabella Mansfield (1846-1911) | Source

Iowan Arabella Mansfield (born Belle Aurelia Babb) became the first female attorney in the U.S. in 1869. She was admitted to the Iowa bar, and became a college professor and administrator.

Despite an Iowa state law restricting the bar exam to males, Mansfield took it and earned high scores. Shortly after her court challenge, Iowa amended its licensing statute and became the first state to accept women and minorities to its bar.

Dyersville is nicknamed ‘The Farm Toy Capital of the World’ because it is the home of the National Farm Toy Museum. It also hosts farm toy shows in June and November.

'Field of Dreams' baseball diamond
'Field of Dreams' baseball diamond | Source

Dyersville is home to the famed baseball diamond featured in the film, ‘Field of Dreams,’ with Kevin Costner.

The movie studio built the baseball diamond on two farms, a few miles outside Dyersville. When production completed, the baseball diamond created for the movie was left behind.

Sabula is Iowa's only town on an island. The construction of Lock and Dam #13 between Clinton, Iowa and Fulton, Illinois in 1939 left the lowlands west of the town permanently flooded, creating the ‘Island City’ as the town is now known.

Sabula is a name of Native American origin meaning ‘sand’ which refers to Sabula’s sandy soil.

Elk Horn Danish Windmill
Elk Horn Danish Windmill | Source

Elk Horn in Shelby County is the largest Danish settlement in the United States and home to The Danish Immigrant Museum.

The community hosts the only authentic, operating Danish windmill in the U.S.

The mill was purchased from Norre Snede, Denmark, shipped and reconstructed in 1976 with the help of over 300 volunteers, and has become one of the most popular and successful tourist attractions in Iowa.

Kalona is the largest Amish community west of the Mississippi River and the oldest in Iowa (settled in the 1840s).

Snake Alley, Burlington
Snake Alley, Burlington

Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' has dubbed Burlington's Snake Alley the most crooked street in the world. Snake Alley remains a one-way street, with all traffic heading downhill.

The turns on Snake Alley are sharper than the turns on San Francisco’s Lombard Street.

Clarion is the birthplace of the four-leaf clover emblem used by the 4-H Clubs of America, conceived of by the local school superintendent, O.H. Benson in 1907.

Strawberry Point is the home of the world's largest strawberry – made of fiberglass.

Bullhead fish statue
Bullhead fish statue | Source

Crystal Lake is home to a statue of the world's largest bullhead fish.

West Okoboji Lake is the deepest natural lake in the state. Its depth is 136 feet.

Maynard Reece from Arnolds Park won the Federal Duck Stamp competition five times: in 1948, 1951, 1959, 1969 and 1971. This is the only art competition of its kind sponsored by the U.S. Government.

Are you wondering, what in the world is the Federal Duck Stamp competition?

The Federal Duck Stamp is a large adhesive stamp required by the United States federal government to hunt migratory waterfowl such as ducks and geese. Each year there is an art competition for the winning stamp submission.

'American Gothic' iconic portrait by Grant Wood 1930
'American Gothic' iconic portrait by Grant Wood 1930 | Source

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art houses the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood artwork.

Note: Grant Wood's iconic portrait depicts a typical rural farmer and his spinster daughter - not his wife as many suggest.

A bronze life-sized sculpture of a Norwegian immigrant family (circa 1860) is located on a six- acre restored prairie site located at the east entry to Lake Mills on Highway 105.

Iowa's only operating antique carousel is located in Story City. The 1913 Herschell-Spillman Antique carousel (merry-go-round) is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Knoxville Raceway Grandstands
Knoxville Raceway Grandstands | Source
Dubuque County Courthouse
Dubuque County Courthouse | Source

Knoxville Raceway is a semi-banked 1/2 mile dirt oval raceway located at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Knoxville, Iowa.

Races at the "Sprint Car Capital of the World" are held on Saturday nights from April through September each year.

Knoxville's National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum is the only museum in the country dedicated to preserving the history of sprint car racing.

Dubuque is home to the only county courthouse with a gold dome.

Decorah is the home of the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, the largest museum in the country devoted to one single immigrant group.

The National Balloon Museum & Ballooning Hall of Fame in Indianola chronicles more than 200 years of ballooning history.

Winnebago Minnie Winnie
Winnebago Minnie Winnie | Source

Campers and motor homes are manufactured in Winnebago County. They're called Winnebagos. They range in price (new) from $64,000 to $429,000.

An early lower priced model was the Dodge-based Minnie Winnie.

Maquoketa Caves State Park northwest of Maquoketa contains more caves than any other Iowa state park. A scenic hiking trail links the caves, formations, and overlooks.

Iowa 80 Truck Stop
Iowa 80 Truck Stop | Source

Iowa 80 in Walcott (Exit 284) is known as the world’s largest truck stop. There are separate entrances for truckers and 'others.'

Set on a 220-acre plot of land, it is four times larger than the average truck stop. The site gets 5,000 visitors daily, and features a 67,000 sq. ft. main building, parking for 900 trucks, 15 fuel pumps, and a staff of 450 employees.

There is also a 2-story, 30,000 sq. ft. showroom, the largest trucker's store in the country. The Iowa 80 Kitchen serves 1 million cups of coffee and 90 tons of meat annually.

In 1945, Fred Ertl began making die-cast aluminum metal toy tractors in his basement in Dubuque. The first model was a John Deere toy tractor. More than 60 million die-cast tractors and farm machinery toys have been purchased by kids and collectors worldwide.

Red Delicious apple
Red Delicious apple | Source

In the 1880s, on a farm near East Peru, Jesse Hiatt noticed shoots coming from a wild apple tree stump. They produced a fruit he had never tasted before, so he nurtured the tree and entered the apples in a contest in 1895. His apple, which he called the Hawkeye, won the contest. This Red Delicious apple is now one of the best-selling apples in the U.S.

A Few Famous Iowans

Herbert Hoover (President) Henry Wallace (Vice President) • Marion Mitchell Morrison (John Wayne) • Johnny Carson • Andy Williams • Cloris Leachman • Ashton Kutcher • Donna Reed • Tom Arnold • Glenn Miller • Mamie Eisenhower • Ann Landers • Abigail Van Buren • William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody • Elijah Wood • Jean Seberg • Bob Feller

State Symbols

State nickname – Hawkeye state

State bird – Eastern goldfinch

State flower – Wild prairie rose

State tree – Oak

State rock - Geode

Geodes are found in limestone formations and have a hard outer shell. When carefully broken open, a sparkling lining of mineral crystals, most often quartz and calcite, is revealed.

State song – ‘The Song of Iowa.’ Words by S.H.M. Byers, 1897. Sung to the tune of ‘Die Tannenbaum.’

Iowans say that if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute.

That’s funny. That’s what they say in all the other states, too.

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2015. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

Comments for Crazy Laws in the State of Iowa and Fun Facts

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    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Allen, welcome to Hubpages. Delighted you found these Iowa facts and crazy laws enjoyable.

      Regarding your decision to write or not, fugeddaboud decisions ... just WRITE!

    • Aliswell profile image


      3 years ago from Iowa

      As a Native, and "Shane Come Back" currently Still residing... "Iowan", Really enjoyed the Facts about Iowa!!!

      Also, Your comments on billybuc's last installment, Really hit home for me!

      I'm struggling to make a decision about this Writing Thing????

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks, Linda, for loving these crazy state laws as I do. They are fun to write as well. Thanks for the Up and hitting all those tons of buttons, m'dear.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      3 years ago from Minnesota

      I love these hubs you do about crazy laws in different states. Their so fun to read. Voted up and hit tons of buttons.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Larry. Yes, every state I have researched so far has a number of crazy laws sill on their books. I would be surprised (and disappointed) if they did not. Thanks for finding them as funny as I do.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I feel the same way, Ruby. Each time I finish writing about a state's crazy laws I think I have covered almost every weird law those legislators could think of. Then I find more bizarre laws when I research the next state. It is crazy but fun to write and I'm delighted that you are also finding them fun to read.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Alicia. That law regarding the fire department IS amazing and now I have found it in 2 states already. Thanks for enjoying this hub and finding it rich in information.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      If you won't be kissing anyone in Iowa in the near future, Audrey, then it is definitely their loss. :)

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Marlene. I find all the fun facts and additional information about each state by searching a number of resources on the Internet. Some of the facts I already know due to constant travel when I worked full time.

      Delighted you enjoy reading all this info and happy I could share the 'American Gothic' info with you. Most folks assume the woman is the farmer's wife but Grant Wood used the farmer's daughter as the model.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Say Yes. You are so right about a number of parallels occurring in various states. The Snake and Lombard streets are just one of them. A number of states have the crazy law about pedestrians wearing tail lights at night. And more than one have restrictions about 'molesting' animals and/or insects.

      Solvang seems to be as ethnically interesting as Elk Horn - I'll have to visit it the next time I get to the west coast. Don't know if I would be as brave as you by sleeping in my car. I don't blame you for being fascinated by geodes - they are beautiful stones.

      Happy you found this to be a fun hub - thanks for the visit, m'dear.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      So you noticed, Theresa - the laws do keep getting stranger with each state. Regarding the horse vs. fire hydrant law, I would not be surprised if some hungry equines tried to nibble on a few hydrants at some point in time.

      Re the fun facts, I find it difficult to stop writing about them. I think I have finished a hub and then find a number of new strange incidents to share. You are most welcome for the laughs - it is entirely my pleasure to share them.

      Thanks for the up, down and across and the sharing.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to meet you, Homeplace Series. Delighted you found some new info about your fascinating native state. Thanks for finding this fun.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Mary. Thanks for starting your week with this. Your generous comments make my week, too, m'dear. Love the adjectives and the Up, y'know. Hope you are feeling up to snuff these days.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      One has to be diligently vigilant these days, Deborah, in Iowa as well as all the other 49 states ... plus Puerto Rico. Thanks for enjoying this roundup of state law oddities.

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      You did your daily good deed, Paula, by warning bp about the less than responsive fire department. One cannot be too careful these days. In ANY state!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Pretty much every state has some crazy laws on the books. Very funny.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Just when I think you've written about the most weird laws of a state you come up with a topper. Crazy but fun to read. lol..

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The fire department law is amazing! Thanks for another fun hub that is rich in information.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      3 years ago from California

      Fun post! I expect that I won't be kissing anyone there in the near future!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      3 years ago from USA

      Where in the world do you find all of these fun facts? I truly enjoyed reading all the interesting laws and tidbits of information about Iowa. I'm intrigued about the "American Gothic" painting now because I always thought that was the man's wife.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I've noticed some parallels between Iowa and California. You already mentioned Snake snd Lombard streets. About the Danish town - California has one called Solvang, which means "sunny field". It is located between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. They host a Danish Days festival every September, which includes a crepe breakfast, town tour, and dancing in the street. I went once, arriving the night before and camping in my car. The next morning, people told me I had nothing to worry about, and one person said I'd had luxury accomodations, pointing to a couple of guys on bicycles toting sleeping bags!

      I got excited reading about the geodes. I LOVE those rocks! I didn't know you could find them in the Midwest; as fat as I knew, the Southwest is the main place to hunt them. You can also find them in Modoc County, CA; a rock shop owner told me her fsther went there, and returned with a pillow case full of them.

      Thank you for anther fun hub!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      Hahaha ... it seems the laws are getting stranger and stranger as each state comes up. I am wondering if there was ever a horse who did eat a fire hydrant to spur on such a law? LOL ... a bit hard on the teeth I would think.

      Wow, you sure have included a lot of fun facts.

      Thank you for the laughs this Monday evening. Mondays are certainly the perfect day for much laughter.

      Up and across, tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing


    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Pick that city flower in Des Moines if you must, bp. I'll get you out of jail if it takes me 20 years!

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      To answer your query, Bill, about that missile-firing law, perhaps long ago in a more quiet, peaceful time, that clueless council may have been thinking about fireworks missiles.

      Or, maybe inhaling all those ethanol fumes did the damage. ;)

    • drbj profile imageAUTHOR

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Paula. It seems like each state I write about has crazier laws than the one preceding it. Some are so bizarre they make me wonder what those legislators had in mind. Guess they checked their minds at the door.

      Give my best to your beautiful Red-headed Daughter-in-law, born & raised in Iowa, and get her feedback on the Iowa laws as well as those CA laws - some of which are real hum-dingers.

      Delighted you are having fun with these and enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy writing about them. Thanks for the Up and the tweeting, m'dear.

      Re your query, it might be difficult for me to choose the craziest laws of all but perhaps I will do a synopsis at the end of this series and let discriminating readers like yourself decide.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! I knew most of this about my native state, but you did have several new ones in there. Thanks for sharing this one as a fun reference! ;-)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      So glad to see this to start my week! A little humor and a little education so well written in only the way you can!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      3 years ago from Iowa

      Great roundup of oddities from my home state. Who knew?

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      pop......Make sure your car does not catch on fire!! Seems you'll be left with just a steering wheel...maybe!! LOL

    • breakfastpop profile image


      3 years ago

      Sorry I have to get to Des Moines to pick a city flower. See you later.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      So let me get this straight: are there actually circumstances where the city council would give permission for firing missiles in town???? LOL Oh my goodness, this was a great way to begin my Monday.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Doc.... Love your remarks as always...especially the fortune teller!! LOL

      When you've completed the States, will you be asking us to vote on the weirdest/most bizarre? If so, I'll pass on that.....I just don't think I could do that. Every time you publish one, it out-does the prior!

      CRAZY Country. Those old laws should have been a head's-up to us, wouldn't you agree?

      First person I'm sending this to is my beautiful Red-headed Daughter-in-law, born & raised in Iowa. ..(who lives now in California).....I hope she has as much fun reading this as the rest of us! UP++++tweeted.


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