The New International Encyclopædia/Des Moines

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DES MOINES, de moin′ (Fr., of the monks). The largest city of Iowa, State capital and county-seat of Polk County; near the geographical centre of the State, 138 miles east by north of Omaha, Neb.; on the Des Moines River, at the head of navigation, and at the mouth of Coon River (Map: Iowa, D 3). It is an important manufacturing and commercial city, and is noted for its extensive insurance interests and its exceptional railroad facilities, which include the lines of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific; the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy; the Chicago Great Western; the Chicago and Northwestern; the Wabash; and the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul. Des Moines was settled in 1846, incorporated as the town of Fort Des Moines in 1851, and in 1857 was chartered as a city and became the capital of the State. The city is built on gently sloping hills, and contains, among its finest structures, the Capitol, erected at a cost of $3,000,000; the United States Government Building; the State Arsenal; the State and city libraries; and the city hall. Des Moines is the seat of Des Moines College (Baptist), established in 1865; Drake University (Christian), founded in 1881; and three other colleges, including two medical schools. It has public parks, and several bridges across the two rivers. The Iowa State Fair is held here. An army post for a regiment of cavalry has recently been established at the city. Des Moines and the surrounding region are underlaid with vast deposits of bituminous coal, a material advantage which has contributed to the rapid growth of the manufacturing industries. Among the products are typewriters, sewer-pipe, patent medicines, brick, trunks, carriages, wagons, sleighs, cotton and woolen goods, starch, pottery, oatmeal, confectionery, crackers, mattresses, harness, engines and boilers, scales, furnaces, bicycles, plows, soap, brooms, white bronze, gloves, twine, tents, linseed oil, wall-paper, mashing-machines, furniture, axle-grease, baking-powder, electrical appliances, etc. The annual income and expenditures of the city amount to about $1,055,000 and $800,000 respectively, the principal items in the budget being $40,000 for street lighting, $35,000 for the police department, $65,000 for the fire department, and $265,000 for schools. Population, in 1850, 502; in 1870, 12,035; in 1890, 50,093; in 1900, 62,139; including 7900 persons of foreign birth and 1700 of negro descent.