Capital Insurance Company, 1906


Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1906.

Des Moines Self-Tour

There are a bunch of historic places worth visiting in Des Moines and with the weather cooling off a little, you can actually enjoy being outdoors.   To see a little history of Des Moines visit the Historic Places page of our Local History Wiki.  There are two historic tour maps, a map and list of places on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of links to other historic places websites that focus on Des Moines and Polk County (Drake’s Historic Des Moines collection is very nice).

The great thing about this tour is that you can access it on your phone or computer anywhere with an Internet connection.

Historic Tour 1

Historic Tour 2 (images soon to come)

Print version of the Historic Tour.

So go ahead and enjoy a digital tour of historic places in Des Moines.

Freshly Digitized – 1887 Map of Grant Park


Grant Park Manufacturing District

To view a larger version of the map, click on it and then click on the area you wish to expand.

Automobile Industry in Des Moines

Imperial Automobile Company advertisementWith the Mecum Auto Auction here in town this past weekend, I thought a little bit of history about Des Moines’ automotive industry would be in order.

From the late 1800’s through the 1930’s Des Moines had a vibrant automotive industry. Automobiles were designed and manufactured here by a number of companies. From early electric carriages (yes, electric cars have been around for that long) to gas-powered luxury cars, Des Moines was a happening place when it came to automobiles. We even had a Ford manufacturing plant in what is now Central Campus for the Des Moines Public Schools! In 1906 Fred Duesenberg designed his first automobile, the Mason, in his machine shop at 915 Grand Ave. The car was named for Edward R. Mason, the financier of the project. Iowa was even number one in the nation in automobiles per capita in 1916.

For a more in depth look at Iowa’s automotive industry find Iowa’s Automobiles : Made in Iowa : An Entertaining and Enlightening History, Bill Jepsen.

Checkout this street scene of Des Moines from Four modes of transportation in one picture!

Image: Imperial Auto advertisement from The Midwestern, March 1914.

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