Hollywood has long glamorized the characters and stories of the Old West. The cinematic work of Iowa’s very own John Wayne is a prime example of how this has been accomplished.

Soaring mountains and sweeping vistas, rugged cowboys on dusty cattle drives, pioneers and wagon trains, frontier towns filled with gamblers and gunfighters — all of these are symbolic of the romantic pictures painted in the minds of many regarding the United States during the 19th century.

Iowa’s actual history mirrors small slivers of Hollywood’s version of the Old West and offers interesting links to many notable occurrences.

For example, the westward mig­ration of millions of people forever shaped the history of the United States. Iowa, even before garnering statehood in 1846, had a front row seat for this and played host to countless people seeking new opportunities out...