November 05, 2003

*Ask Jen: Des Moines Edition

Des Moines (pronounced DE moin, by the way) has a somewhat confusing name origin. I have been told various different meanings and histories for the name, but I believe I have finally found a reasonable answer to the question that keeps me up nights:

The name "Des Moines" comes from the river of the same name. Indians called the river Moingona, meaning "river of the mounds." Early French explorers later translated this into La Riviere de Moingona, which, over time became Des Moines.

I've been asked about Des Moines enough that I figured I'd just post this information so y'all can sleep better at night, too.

Posted by Jennifer at November 5, 2003 04:26 PM


Re: Des Moines
Wide variances in pronunciation of such names- example; Des Plaines, Illinois is pronounced des planes.

Posted by: Jim at November 5, 2003 05:13 PM

I've always been more curious about the whole Cedar Rapids "city of five seasons" thing. I'd originally thought it was for the five brothers that were all killed in the war but their name wasn't "Season" and I think they were actually from Waterloo. So basically I just made that up in my own mind, I guess.

I'd heard that the fifth season is "time" - whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

Any insights?

Posted by: picklejuice at November 6, 2003 04:14 AM

Good question, Natalie...I have no insight but shall look into it for you. While I lived in Iowa City I just figured they couldn't count in CR.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 6, 2003 04:18 AM

thank You Jen for your insight. I lived off and on in Ottumwa untill I was 13 and am always drawn to the river when I return to Iowa. Quite a difference from the sand hills and swamps where I now live in Columbia, SC. My life has led me to the quasi-profession of a wanna-be poet and much of what I now write is influenced by what I learned living and playing(reenacting?)by the Moingona.

Posted by: Steve Cunningham at January 9, 2004 11:16 AM