West Des Moines, Iowa, is a city rich in history. Over the years, there have been many significant events that have taken place near the city. From battles to inventions, these events are a testament to the city's past.
1. Des Moines River Floods - 1850 and 1903
The Des Moines River runs near West Des Moines and has flooded multiple times throughout history. The two most significant floods occurred in 1850 and 1903. The 1850 flood caused major damage to the city and resulted in the construction of a dam and levee system to protect against future floods.
2. Battle of Five Forks - 1865
The Battle of Five Forks was fought near West Des Moines during the Civil War. It was a key Union victory that led to General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House just days later. The battlefield is now a historical site and park.
3. Iowa State Fair - 1886
The first Iowa State Fair was held in West Des Moines in 1886. It has since become one of the largest and most popular state fairs in the United States, attracting millions of visitors each year.
4. Johnny Sauter Invents the Automatic Transmission - 1920
Johnny Sauter, a West Des Moines mechanic, invented the first automatic transmission in 1920. The invention revolutionized the automobile industry and is still used in cars today.
5. Great Train Robbery - 1923
The Great Train Robbery took place near West Des Moines in 1923. A gang of robbers stole over $10 million in cash, gold, and securities from a train traveling from Chicago to Washington, D.C. The crime remains one of the most infamous train robberies in U.S. history.
6. The Scandal of the Iowa Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument - 1911
The Iowa Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was erected in 1901 to honor the state's Civil War veterans. However, in 1911, a scandal erupted when it was discovered that the monument was constructed using subpar materials and was in danger of collapsing. The scandal resulted in the monument being dismantled and rebuilt with proper materials.
7. Wallace Carothers Invents Nylon - 1935
Wallace Carothers, a chemist at the DuPont Company, invented nylon in 1935. The synthetic material revolutionized the textile industry and is still widely used today in a variety of products, from clothing to toothbrush bristles.
In conclusion, West Des Moines, Iowa, has been the site of many historically significant events. From floods and battles to inventions and scandals, these events have shaped the city's past and continue to be an important part of its history.
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