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Maquoketa Fun Facts

  • 24 July, 2020
  • Andrea Parrott

Since we aren’t traveling to Maquoketa this week for RAGBRAI XLVIII, we gathered some fun facts and interesting tidbits for you. The Maquoketa Caves State Park may be their most famous attraction, but if you’re willing to do a deep dive there is a lot more fun to be had in Maquoketa!

Maquoketa Fun Facts

Twin Arch Cave at the Maquoketa Caves State Park

Maquoketa was originally called Springfield, and under the latter name was laid out in 1838. 

The present name, after the Maquoketa River, was adopted in 1844. 

The river’s name derives from Maquaw-Autaw, which means “Bear River” in Meskwaki. 

The Davenport and St. Paul Railroad was extended to Maquoketa in 1870 prompting growth. The county seat was transferred from Andrew to Maquoketa in 1873. 

Despite its size, the town also attracts many presidential candidates. 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the town twice during his campaign and again while president on August 16, 2011.  

The Old City Hall Gallery displays the oil paintings of International-known Maquoketa artist Rose Frantzen, whose exhibit “Portrait of Maquoketa”, the oil paintings of 180 residents of Maquoketa, was once on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. It is now housed in the permanent collection of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. 

Notable Places in Maquoketa 

People go over paperwork at the front desk at the Decker Hotel in Maquoketa.

  • Maquoketa Caves State Park 
  • Hurstville Lime Kilns, north of Maquoketa 
  • Jackson County Iowa Historical Society 
  • Clinton Engines Museum 
  • 61 Drive-in theater. One of the few remaining outdoor theaters in the United States.
  • Historic Decker Hotel, which has been recently restored
  • The town also holds host to a historic district containing many great examples of Victorian architecture. 

Notable People from Maquoketa 

Rose Frantzen, with her portait of Tom Vilsack

  • Norris Brown, Senator from Nebraska 
  • Craig Callahan, professional basketball player 
  • James H. Cartwright, Illinois Supreme Court justice 
  • Betty Francis, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player 
  • Herbert E. Hitchcock, Senator from South Dakota 
  • Charles Wycliffe Joiner, US federal judge 
  • Matthew Luckiesh, physicist 
  • Junius Ralph Magee, former Methodist bishop 
  • Eben Martin, former US Representative 
  • Robert A. Millikan, Nobel Prize laureate 
  • Rose Frantzen, artist
  • Joseph Otting, businessman 
  • Sage Rosenfels, former quarterback in the NFL 
  • George Homer Ryan, former Governor of Illinois 
  • William Welch, originated the printing of high school diplomas 

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