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The following is just a glance of some of the “firsts” in Iowa transportation history. For more information, visit the online version of the booklet – "Discovering Historic Iowa Transportation Milestones" - by clicking on the title line.

1819

First steamboat to pass along an Iowa border (traveled on the Missouri River)

1823

The Virginia became the first steamboat to navigate the upper Mississippi River from St. Louis, Mo. to St. Paul, Minn. It did so twice that year. This was the first steamboat to pass along Iowa’s eastern border.

1838

First "official" road in Iowa territory (route from Keokuk to Iowa City).

1838

First regular stagecoach line (operated from Burlington, Iowa to St. Francisville.

1856

First "manned" balloon flight (Burlington).

1856

First railroad bridge over Mississippi River was completed near Rock Island, Ill.

1867

First railroad to traverse the state was completed (Union Pacific).

1888

First electric street car put into service (located in Des Moines, second electric railway in United States).

1899

First automobiles displayed in Iowa (at a fair in Linn County).

1904

First concrete paved street (Eagle Street in Le Mars).

1904

First required the registration of motor vehicles.

1905

First person killed in an automobile accident.

1911

First regular passenger bus line (operated between Charles City and Waverly).

1917

First federal aid for highways received.

1919

First official road map published.

1920

First commercial air freight flight to Iowa.

1920

First regular consignment of U.S. airmail reached Iowa.

1925

First state motor vehicle fuel tax.

1928

First scheduled airline in Iowa (Midwest Airways Corp.).

1928

First asphalt paved roadway.

1929

First Iowa woman to earn a pilot’s license (Ila Fox of Callender).

1930

Iowa woman becomes the first airline stewardess in the country (Cresco native Ellen Church).

1931

Locks and Dam 15 is located at Mississippi River mile 483 on the northwest tip of Arsenal Island in Rock Island, Ill. This is the first structure built as part of the 9-foot navigation channel. The locks were built first, with construction starting in April 1931 and ending in December 1932. Work on the dam began in March 1932 and was completed in May 1934.

1935

Lincoln Highway became first paved transcontinental highway.

1949

Iowa Road Use Tax Fund established.

1953

Salt first used experimentally on roadways for ice removal.

1958

First Iowa segment of interstate opened (I-35/80 on southwest edge of Des Moines).

1971

Iowa’s original AMTRAK system put into operation.

1986

Seatbelt law enacted.