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A Road Trip Through Iowa Summers

Vacation Pic--Courtesy of State Historical Society of Iowa.jpeg
Courtesy of State Historical Society of Iowa
Families would often park along the side of the road to camp or enjoy a picnic as they road tripped across Iowa.

Take a road trip through Iowa history.

A lot of people cancelled or altered their summer vacation plans this year. Any travel carries with it some risk during this pandemic, but camping and road tripping, particularly short trips, are soaring in popularity because they’re some of the lower risk options.

In many ways, it feels like we’ve stepped back in time, to when road tripping and camping were some of the only options for middle class travelers seeking adventure.

Not an Iowa road trip experience, but in 1963 my family traveled from outside Chicago to Arizona with stops in Texas and Colorado before returning ... the "air conditioner" my dad purchased for the car was just a water tank that hung outside the passenger window and contained a spring operated fan/paddle that was supposed to evaporate the water and blow the "cooled" air into the car. [It] didn't send any cool air but rather a shower of water all over the passengers.
Listener Dan Wacker on his most memorable road trip

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with historians about the evolution of the American road trip.

If you're interested in learning more about Iowa history, Join Leo Landis for his virtual learning series. They occur on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at noon. Next Thursday, learn about the history of the Iowa State Fair.


  • Leo Landis, state curator, State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Tom Morain, former director, State Historical Society of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River