Story Themes

Silos & Smokestacks and its partners interpret our heritage by using six themes. Each theme explores different aspects of agriculture. The themes help visitors interpret and experience the story many ways: in small towns and large cities; on trails and county roads; and through farms, natural areas, local museums and historical buildings.

The Fertile Land

The prairie and gentle hills of Northeast Iowa are some of the world’s most fertile ground. Much of this
dark, rich topsoil was deposited long ago by glaciers.

Farmers and Families

Iowa farmers’ philosophies date back to pioneers whose survival required ingenuity, thrift and
cooperation. To keep planting and harvesting, todays’ farm families still endure long hours, physical
demands and extremes of nature.

The Changing Farm

Farming keeps evolving as changing techniques and technologies reshape relationships between farmers and consumers. Many large farms become specialized while some smaller farms diversify.

Higher Yields: The Science and Technology of Agriculture 

Historically, Iowa’s resourceful farmers are always making great gains in productivity. Agricultural milestones include the steel plow, the tractor and genetic engineering.

From Farm to Factory: Agribusiness in Iowa

Systems that move products from field to table have grown from serving local consumers into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Multi-national companies include John Deere, Quaker Oats, ADM, Pioneer, Cargill, Amana and Maytag.

Organizing for Agriculture: Policies and Politics

Iowa farmers often face rough fluctuations in the value of grains and livestock. Farmers’ groups like the Grange and Farm Bureau lobby for pro-agriculture legislation.