What’s Up with the Map of Iowa?

Iowans are known for their common sense. Except, perhaps, when it comes to naming places.

A stranger might expect Des Moines to be in Des Moines County, but he’d be wrong. You’ll find Des Moines County on the shores of the Mississippi River, while Des Moines is in the center of the state, 170 miles away.

Keokuk is not in Keokuk County, nor is Fort Madison in Madison County. Instead, they share tiny Lee County in the southeast tip of the state.

Sioux City isn’t in Sioux County, either.

Confused yet?

Travel due south of Des Moines to Osceola, but far to the northwest for Osceola County. (Chief Osceola left his name all over the eastern U.S., so be extra careful with this one.)

There’s no ocean in Atlantic, nor mountains in Cascade, but I guess you knew that already.

Independence is in Buchanan County, Buchanan in Cedar County, Cedar Rapids in Linn County, and Linn Grove in Buena Vista County.

Marengo is county seat of Iowa County, and Iowa City the county seat of Johnson County. Johnston (not Johnson) is in Polk County, which is also home to Des Moines (see above).

Fairfield is in Jefferson County,
Jefferson in Greene County, and
Greene in Butler County.

To be fair, Dubuque, Muscatine, and Clinton buck the trend. They’re the seats of government for counties with the same names, which makes a lot of sense.

But they seem to be the exception to the rule, now don’t they?

When you travel around Iowa, pay close attention to your map. If you don’t you might end up far from where you want to go.

One comment on “What’s Up with the Map of Iowa?

  1. Hahaha! I love it. I haven’t studied KS, but Shawnee is in Johnson County, not Shawnee County. I wonder if there are more… Entertaining post, as always. Thanks, Jane.

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