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Iowa has a rich transportation history that began 10,000 years ago. From nomadic hunters blazing trails as they followed game through the countryside to the whiz of today’s interstates, every step is a unique piece of our history. As the Iowa Department of Transportation celebrates 100 years, we invite you to peruse our stories, ask us questions and share your transportation experiences with us.


The evolution of the Iowa driver’s license

Many Iowans have fond memories of getting their first driver’s license. There is a sense of accomplishment and of maturity, along with a feeling of freedom to travel when and where you desire. Of course, the privilege of driving also carries a heavy responsibility for the safety of others on...

Which came first: the driver’s license or the automobile license plate?

Two of the most frequent questions Iowan’s have for the Iowa DOT Library are: What year was the first license plate issued? What year was the first driver’s license required? As it happens, the automobile license plate predates the operator’s license by quite some time. When did Iowa first require...

Your Input Needed on Our 100th Anniversary Time Capsule

As part of the Iowa DOT’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, the DOT is assembling a time capsule which will be buried on the grounds of the Iowa DOT's Central Complex in Ames. The time capsule is to be opened in the year 2038. We are currently seeking suggestions for items to...

Symbol of New Relations Bestowed Upon the Iowa DOT

Ceremonial pipe (calumet) presented to the Iowa DOT Sept. 11, 1982 as a symbol of trust betweent the Department and Iowa's Native American community On Sept. 11, 1982, Hereditary Chief Ernest Wabasha VII of the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe and Maria Pearson of the Turtle Clan of the Yankton Sioux tribe...

Iowa Department of Transportation Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The story of transportation in Iowa starts nearly 12,000 years ago, when nomadic people roamed what is now Iowa hunting large mammals like mastodons and caribou, and blazing the earliest walking paths. About 2,500 years ago, people started to settle near rivers; and the rivers turned into transportation routes for...