1897 IOWA State Fair Medal Found

1897 IOWA State Fair Medal Found

Every now and then we find something that is truly historical. This weekend I got to do some metal detecting at an old Dairy farm when I got a nice tone about 7 inches deep on the Minelab E-Trac.

The tone sounded great, so I decided to dig it.  When I first saw it in the hole, I got excited because I had no idea what it was but knew it was old. Turns out it is Really old.  An 1897 Iowa State Fair relic to be exact!


One of my favorite parts about this hobby is that many time our finds tell a story, and this relic proved that to be true.  While researching this medallion, I came across some interesting information about the 1897 Iowa State Fair that I thought you might enjoy reading.

An interesting note about the 1897 State Fair in Iowa

Many Indian tribes stayed in an area called “Indian Village” during the 1897 Fair. Chief Black Hawk attended the Fair.

Dr. Carver’s diving horse was a main attraction.



William Frank “Doc” Carver (May 7, 1851 – Aug. 31, 1927) was a late 19th-century sharpshooter and creator of a popular diving horse attraction.


A diving horse is an attraction that was popular in the mid 1880’s, in which a horse would dive into a pool of water, sometimes from as high as 60 feet!

Carver went into partnership with Buffalo Bill Cody to put a Wild West show on the road. The grand opening of the “Wild West: Hon. W. F. Cody and Dr. W. F. Carver’s Rocky Mountain and Prairie Exhibition” in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 17, 1883

Another interesting piece I came across during my research is the mention of a Cow named Corina that showed at the 1897 Iowa State Fair.


Man, Corlina must have been a cow to behold! 🙂

Another very interesting tid bit of information was learned during my research on the medallion and the 1897 Iowa State Fair:


Now, why would that information be interesting? Well, remember where I found this medal? ON A DAIRY FARM…On the Missouri border!  Ironic? Coincidence? Nothing?

– I’m unsure, but that leads me to believe that more research is needed to find out if there is any correlation between the two.

The property I was detecting was once a thriving dairy farm, and the owner was very kind in allowing us to detect on his property.  He came out to meet me since it was my first time there, and he seemed like a gentle soul, so I gave him the medal.  Truthfully, I wanted to keep it, but giving a property owner a cool find from his property is good karma, and I am sure he will have no problem letting us detect his property any time we want.  A win-win situation for all involved.


– This find was one of my oldest dated finds, and one of the coolest relics I’ve ever dug!

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There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Clark Rickman at 12:19 pm

    btw, What I love about finds like this one is the opportunity to research and really give the find both provenance and depth. After reading the research clips I can imagine myself actually being there. Those later 1800s fairs had to have been incredible to attend.

    • Rob at 12:44 pm

      Thanks Clark! I enjoy learning from your articles as well and agree that the research part is as much fun as finding the items in many cases. It was neat to be able to give provenance and some history to this find, and I too was able to imagine myself at the fair. Isn’t it something that we’re able to learn facts about 100+ year old finds… from the comfort of our homes! 🙂

  2. ARK5 at 2:14 pm

    I agree you did a fantastic job of researching your find. It would have been awesome if you had been able to take it home and really clean it up.

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