Today’s Throw Back Thursday photograph is of Iowa State botany professor Louis Pammel with Ledges State Park custodian Carl Fritz Hemmings. This year marks the centennial of the passage of the first state parks act in Iowa, which was approved April 12, 1917. The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives plans a summer exhibition, “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”: The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System” which will open to the public on May 17.
Iowa’s landscape of native prairie, forests, and wetlands was rapidly disappearing by the early part of the 20th century due to an expanding population and growing agricultural operations. Individuals from across Iowa advocated for the legislature to set aside land to conserve Iowa’s dwindling natural landscapes resulting in the passage of Iowa’s state parks bill in 1917. Iowa State played a central role in establishing the state park system and the state of Iowa soon became a national leader in the state park movement. The exhibit highlights Iowa State’s role in the state park movement.