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Des Moines River Improvement Project Focus of History Series
Posted: 02/05/2013
Join historian Dr. Rick Woten at 2 p.m., March 3, in the Bonaparte Opera House for a tale of public controversy, litigation, and political bickering over a project to build a navigation system on the Des Moines River from the Mississippi River to the convergence with the Raccoon River, in Des Moines.

Saddled by controversies arising from an ambiguous land grant, adversarial titles and the arrival of railroads, the idea of a navigable Des Moines River serving as a great thoroughfare for the transportation of Midwestern produce was never realized.

Woten, faculty and curriculum coordinator at William Penn University is an avid researcher, scholar, lecturer, and public speaker on Iowa and rural history. He researched the Des Moines River Improvement Project extensively for his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.

The program is the second of the History on the River series of talks on the Des Moines River in southeast Iowa.  The series is cosponsored by Pathfinders RC&D and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Pre-registration is requested by going online at or contact Pathfinders RC&D at 641-472-6177. 

Pathfinders RC&D is a nonprofit organization that assists local communities with initiatives related to economic development, natural resource conservation and recreation.

Pathfinders has been serving Jefferson, Van Buren, Mahaska, Keokuk, Davis and Wapello counties since 1978.  To learn more, contact Pathfinders by calling 641-472-6177 or visit