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If you would like to triangulate the smallest American city to be a Catholic Archdiocese, home of the oldest brewery in Iowa and hideout of the notorious gangster Al Capone, your GPS would surely lock itself to Dubuque. Named after the first European to settle in what would later become the state of Iowa, this stunning riverside port city along Mississippi River is based amidst some picturesque bluffs and was initially a mining and trading settlement. It was full of German and Irish immigrants post 1788 AD and a clear indication of the same can be found in the city’s religious and architectural identities. It would be worthwhile to visit some of its religious monuments that relate to its more than 200 year old identity and by the same token, the superbly ornate St. Mary Sacred Heart and St. Luke's Methodist Church would come highly recommended. Cable Car Square and Fenelon Place Elevator also make a cut to the list, albeit for historical reasons. If you’re looking for a more subtle experience, you can take day trips along the Great River Road to appreciate some picture-perfect beauty of the upper Mississippi River valley or you can go forward to the nearby city of Galena. The latter is best known as the ‘town that time forgot’ and is home to historic former lead-mining and numerous antique shops.
Dubbed as ‘one of the five finest religious Tiffany collections in the world’, St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Dubuque is a glorious example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture and has the maximum number of Tiffany windows among all churches in Iowa. Its organ consists of 1000 pipes and was one of the largest in the city during the time of installation.
National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is home to a number of include marine and freshwater species from the regional rivers. You should visit it for its more than a dozen aquariums consisting of giant catfish, sturgeon, ducks, frogs, turtles, rays, octopus, and river otters. Also of note are some outdoor exhibits like steam boilers, boats, a blacksmith shop and raptor aviaries including bald eagles. Flanked by a magnificent 3D/4D theatre, other stellar attractions here include the National Rivers Hall of Fame (it has a magnificent collection of historic small watercraft), Historic Train Depot and Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum.Fenelon Place Elevator (or the Fourth Street Elevator)
Disputably claimed to be the world’s shortest and steepest railroad, the Fenelon Place Elevator is a 3-feet narrow gauge funicular railway in Dubuque. Its predecessor was built in 1882 for the private use of former state senator JK Graves. After some incidents of fire breaking out in subsequent years, a new funicular that used cable car technology was opened to the public in 1893- and the same has been working till date sans much fuss. Worth noting is the point that the funicular is 296 feet long and angles up at 106 degrees with a vertical elevation of 98 feet .