The Des Moines Aviation Park in Altoona had a short-lived but rich history that helped advance Iowa’s aviation industry. When it was founded in 1926, it became Iowa’s first municipal airport, containing the state’s very first airline hangar!
One winter evening in 1857, as a snowstorm pummeled Iowa, a lone stagecoach crossed the Little Four Mile Creek in Altoona, carrying Iowa’s greatest treasurers. It was a long, exhausting journey from Iowa City to Des Moines. But, when the drivers saw Altoona, they breathed a sigh of relief. Finally! They had nearly arrived. But not quite….
One day, back in 2001, Doug Teuber was driving through Altoona when he hit the brakes. There, resting in someone’s front yard like a sleeping giant, was a stone weighing approximately 16 tons. Just what he needed. Years later, the rock became the centerpiece of a war memorial which now includes a fountain, a mural, four bronze statues representing each service branch, and nods to the veterans of several American wars.
In 1882, at a time when coal was the country’s primary source of energy, the Altoona Coal and Mining Company was born. The business started as a rather small operation—it had three employees, who were also the owners. But, as these men dug deeper and deeper below the surface of Altoona, they discovered a large vein of black gold.
Reading about history is one thing. But when you get out and experience it yourself – when you catch a glimpse of its true scale and scope – the past has a way of coming to life. Head to the corner of 8th Avenue & 8th Street and you’ll find yourself transported back in time as you stand in the shadow of an authentic Corsair II: a Vietnam-era fighter plane.
On the afternoon of August 29th, 1877, thousands descended on Altoona to see the aftermath of that morning’s train wreck. Word had traveled lightning-fast across the Des Moines Metro; people were saying this was the greatest rail accident the area had ever seen.