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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 30, 2009

I35 rest area

Rest area touts Iowa and Iowa State's transportation history

by Diana Pounds

Whether you need a rest or not, the new interstate rest area just south of Story City is worth a stop. The attractive facility on southbound I-35 celebrates Iowa's contributions to transportation, and Iowa Staters play an important role in that history.

Historical tidbits

Among historical tidbits visitors can find at the facility:

  • The Iowa State Highway Commission, forerunner of the Iowa Department of Transportation, was established at Iowa State in 1904. Engineering dean Anson Marston and Agriculture dean Charles Curtiss were early advocates of the commission and its first commissioners.
  • ISU alumnus Thomas MacDonald was chief engineer of the Iowa commission and would become commissioner of what's now known as the Federal Highway Administration. Under his leadership, 3 million miles of interconnected, hard surface highways were laid across the United States.
  • Slipform paving, which greatly shortened the time to construct interstates, was invented in Iowa.
  • Iowa leads the nation in miles of paved roads per capita and is fifth in the number of bridges.
  • Many types of motor vehicles were invented and manufactured in Iowa from 1900 to 1915.


The Iowa Department of Tranportation gives a nod to Iowa Staters who played a strong role in state and national road-building history in a display at a new rest stop near Story City.