IEDA grants to study Muscatine underground railroad, crop history

Nine Iowa communities receive IEDA funding

underground railroad

A pair of grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) will help advance two projects to study Muscatine County’s rich history in the underground railroad as well as its fruit and vegetable industry. 

The Certified Local Government grant program encourages governmental partnerships, provides training and technical assistance, and supports preservation of historic resources at the local level.

In a nButchery underground railroad Muscatineews release Friday, March 29, IDEA announced that it had awarded about $125,000 in grants to nine Iowa communities, including these two in Muscatine County: 

  • The City of Muscatine received a $20,000 grant to hire a consultant to complete an intensive level survey related to the underground railroad and the anti-slavery history in the City of Muscatine and Muscatine County. The city will be the host city for the 2025 Preserve Iowa Summit. The total project cost, with a local match, is $36,787. 
  • Muscatine County was awarded an $11,800 grant to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the local region’s historic fruit and vegetable industry, which enriched the county’s development through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Researchers will place an emphasis on “Muscatine Island” in the Fruitland Township, which is widely known for its quality watermelon and cantaloupe as well as other crops. The study also will include other township’s contributions. Related facilities and equipment, still in existence, will be cataloged and made available for the public. 

Largest in nation program

Iowa’s program is one of the largest in the nation and is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office in conjunction with the National Park Service. Funding for the Certified Local Government grants comes from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service.

“Each of these projects represent the growing momentum for community revitalization through historic preservation,” IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham said in the release. “This investment in projects across Iowa will have a significant economic impact and demonstrates our commitment to local preservation in partnership with our state’s 90 Certified Local Governments.”

The Iowa grants for Muscatine are administered through IEDA’s Iowa State Historic Preservation Office. The funding will be distributed in the form of matching grants to the selected projects.

Other project supported by the grants include: 

  • Development of Uptown Creston District’s National Register of Historic Places nomination.
  • Creation of a Historic Structure Report for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fort Dodge that will establish a roadmap for vacant property’s rehabilitation and reuse.
  • Completion of a survey of the Overman Park Neighborhood, one of the early residential neighborhoods adjacent to Historic Downtown Cedar Falls.

To see the full awards list, visit here.

For more information about the Certified Local Government Grant program, contact Allison Archambo at (515) 348-6287 or

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