When the first settlers arrived in Iowa, nearly 30 of this state's 35 million acres were blanketed with tallgrass prairie. In less than 150 years, 99.9% of this vast, lush grassland disappeared under the plow. The prairie before you contains some of the more than 300 native grass and wildflower species that once stretched for endless miles across Iowa's landscape.Topsoil Chart
"When Henry Wallace (Uncle Henry) began buying land there (in Iowa), much of Adair was still 'raw prairie'. Bluestem grass standing eight feet tall covered much of its twenty-four square miles."
"American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace"
By John C. Culver and John Hyde, W.W. Norton & Company, 2000
Iowa's centuries old prairie resulted in rich, fertile topsoil. Agriculture cultivation and wind and water erosion have seriously depleted the topsoil in a mere 150 years.
1850 - 14" · 1950 - 8.5"
1875 - 13" · 1975 - 7"
1900 - 11.5" · 2000 - 5.5"
1925 - 10" · 2025 - ?
"Hybrids and Ploughshares"
by Lisa Schlesinger
Prairie reconstruction on this 9 acres started in 1997. Seed from the Wearin Prairie in Mills County, one of Iowa's few remaining native prairies was drilled in the spring.
Kyle Swanson, Vice President of the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center, 1994-1999, assisted with the planning of this prairie.
Kyle is known throughout Iowa for his prairie research and restoration projects.
He died on March 13, 2000 and is remembered here for his prairie dedication and volunteer work.