Quad City Fun Facts

There are so many little-known facts about our very own Quad Cities! We are blessed with such a rich history in our location, it’s time we share some of these awesome facts with you! We have compiled a list of our favorite Quad-City related fun facts from a few great local resources such as VisitQuadCities.com, www.50pluslife.com, and b100quadcities.com.

Please comment with your favorite Quad City fun fact!

      1. The Quad Cities is a misnomer. There are actually five cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois.
      2. The Quad Cities is home to the only section of the Mississippi River that runs east to west.
      3. The first bridge across the Mississippi River opened in 1856. It was only open for 15 days before it was struck by a steamboat and burned.
      4. Representing the five cities, there are five arches along the Rock Island Centennial Bridge, built to celebrate Rock Island’s 100th birthday in 1940.
      5. Arsenal Island, which lies between Davenport and Rock Island, houses the Rock Island Arsenal. The Rock Island Arsenal is the largest government-owned weapons manufacturer in the entire United States. It is also one of only 2 bridges in existence that turns 360 degrees in either direction.
      6. During the Civil War, more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers were housed at a prison camp on Arsenal Island. Two thousand are now buried at the Confederate Cemetery on the island.
      7. Quarters 1, the commanding general’s home at the Rock Island Arsenal, is the second largest single family dwelling owned by the federal government. Only the White House is larger.
      8. The Quad Cities also gets to claim the first 4 lane bridge across the Mississippi, The Centennial Bridge, which opened in 1940!
      9. The first appendectomy in the United States was on January 4, 1885 at Mercy Hospital in Davenport.
      10. The first chiropractic college in the world was established in 1897 right here in the QC; Palmer College of Chiropractic. It was started by Daniel David Palmer who was labeled the founder of chiropractic medicine.
      11. A Little Bit O’ Heaven, a popular tourist attraction in the Quad Cities from 1924 to 1981, was located on the campus of Palmer College of Chiropractics and included pools filled with live alligators. During the winter months, the alligators were housed in the basement of the Palmer mansion.
      12. In the parlor of the Palmer mansion sits what may be the world’s largest ivory chess set. The play-board is approximately six feet across, the chess pieces nearly a foot tall. On top of the case that houses the chess set is a gold leaf hen with inlaid jewels.
      13. The first NFL football game was played at Douglas Park in Rock Island in 1920. The Rock Island Independents beat the St. Paul Ideals 48-0.
      14. Ronald Reagan began his career at WOC, first radio station west of the Mississippi River. This being his first radio job, at 21 years old, he worked as the sports announcer. This was the beginning of his career in show business.
      15. Rock Island’s economy prospered in 1856 when the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (the first to be robbed by Jesse James) built the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi.
      16. Alexander Victor from Davenport, Iowa, invented the first electric washing machine for the White Lily Company. He then went on to invent an amateur Motion Picture Camera and Projector and started the Victor Animatograph Corporation in Davenport. This company manufactured the first 16mm motion picture projector, and became a leader in the field of motion picture technology.
      17. Walt Disney applied for his first job at the Victor Animatograph Corporation in Davenport; they didn’t hire him!
      18. Iowa State University professor John Vincent Atanasoff reportedly sketched a diagram of the world’s first electronic computer on a cocktail napkin while enjoying a drink at Hunter’s Club in Rock Island, IL in the winter of 1937-38. The establishment also has ownership of the state’s oldest liquor license. Hunter’s opened in 1933.
      19. In 1999, at the John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities, for a first-time policy change in the PGA Tour’s 83-year history, caddies were allowed to wear shorts!
      20. The O’Reilly Auto Parts World Series of Drag Racing is by far the longest running major sporting event in the Quad Cities area. The race is also the oldest continuous drag racing event in the world – one year older than the U.S. Nationals!
      21. Built in 1956, Cordova Dragway Park is one of the oldest drag strips in the country.
      22. The book “Road to Perdition” and the movie of the same name are based on John Looney’s life. The notorious lawyer-turned-gangster, John Looney’s huge mansion in Rock Island still stands to this day on 17th Avenue.
      23. John Deere moved to Illinois and invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837.
      24. Moline, IL. is home to the John Deere World Headquarters.
      25. The worldwide headquarters of Deere & Co. was completed in 1964 and designed by world renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the designer of the St. Louis Arch.
      26. The Quad City Symphony Orchestra has been operating since 1916!
      27. Hollywood stars Laura Flynn Boyle and Mary Beth Peil are both from Davenport.
      28. Jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and theater pioneer Susan Glaspell were both born in the Quad Cities.
      29. Quad Cities’ Lock and Dam No. 15 is the longest roller dam in existence, and it stretches between Arsenal Island and Davenport. It was the first Lock and Dam built on the Mississippi River.
      30. The Rock Island Auction Company was featured on the Discovery Channel show “Ready, Aim, Shoot.”
      31. The Rock Island Arsenal is the #1 largest employer in the Quad Cities, John Deere is second.
      32. Whitey’s Ice Cream started in Moline, IL. in 1933!
      33. Abraham Lincoln served in the Quad Cities as a captain participating in the Black Hawk War. He also returned to the Quad Cities as a lawyer to defend the railroad against the steamboat companies.
      34. In 1910, the U.S. Census declared that Davenport was the second richest city in America based on per capita wealth.
      35. With 10 different makes of automobiles being manufactured in the early 1900’s, the Quad Cities was known as “Little Detroit”.
      36. The 1910 Velie automobile, made in Moline, IL cost $1,800.
      37. For two days, First National Bank of Davenport was the nation’s only national bank.
      38. Moline’s first public library opened in January 1873, sharing quarters with the post office.
      39. On August 28, 1929, the famed Graf Zeppelin made a special low-flying trip over Davenport as a salute to the city’s large German population.
      40. Davenport was a member of the Northwestern League, the first professional baseball league in the Midwest, as early as 1879.
      41. Cigar manufacturing was the major industry to employ women workers at the turn-of-the-century in Davenport.
      42. The Quad Cities was ranked No. 1 nationally by Golf Digest for affordability and easy access among cities with populations between 250,000 and 1 million.
      43. Over 100 festivals are held in the Quad Cities each year. Over a one year period, that averages out to more than 8 events per month.
      44. The Quad Cities was the site of the western-most battle of the Revolutionary War, fought in 1780.
      45. The Quad City Symphony, founded in 1916, is among the oldest symphonies in the United States.
      46. Buffalo Bill Cody was born in a farmhouse in LeClaire, Iowa.
      47. Davenport B. Sears came to the area in 1836 and built a mill made of stone and brush. It was the first of many mills that gave Moline its French name meaning “city of mills”.
      48. The Quad Cities is home to the invention of Taco Pizza! Thank Happy Joe’s for that!

We hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as we did making it! Please feel free to drop in your own local fun facts in the comments!

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