Every state has those cities that are hard to pronounce, but any time someone from out of town stops by and starts mispronouncing cities it is always funny to see, and hear. Today we are looking at some of those cities.

Before we jump into this, I just want to address that As of 2010, there are 947 incorporated cities in the state of Iowa. So needless to say I most likely missed some of the smaller cities. If you live in a city that gets butchered when it comes to pronunciation, let us know.

The Cities

In no particular order, here are some of the most mispronounced cities in the great state of Iowa. We are looking at the larger cities, but do have some smaller ones on this list as well.

Welcome to Iowa sign

Des Moines

I bet you saw this one coming from a mile away, it's our state capital, and I doubt anyone who's not from Iowa knows how to pronounce it.

Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa. The gold-domed Iowa State Capitol building is among the 19th- and early-20th-century landmarks of the East Village area.


I don't think I've ever heard someone say this right on the first time. I still mess it up from time to time.

Ottumwa is a city in and the county seat of Wapello County, Iowa, United States.[7] The population was 25,529 at the time of the 2020 U.S. Census.[8] Located in the state's southeastern section, the city is split into northern and southern halves by the Des Moines River.




Since I have heard all of these cities on the list my whole life, it's hard to imagine people saying them wrong, but boy they do.

Waukee is a city in Dallas County, Iowa, United States. The population was 23,940 at the time of the 2020 U.S. Census. It is part of the Des Moines


It's just pronounced the way it's spelled, and yet some people from out of town overcorrect and say it wrong.

Keokuk is a city in and a county seat of Lee County, Iowa, United States, along with Fort Madison. It is Iowa's southernmost city. The population was 9,900 at the time of the 2020 census.


Apparently, I also have no idea how to pronounce this, people claim it's actually pronounced like MONTI-CHELLO. Have I been saying this wrong my whole life?

Monticello is a city in Jones County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2020 census, the city population was 4,040


Once you hear it, it's hard to forget, but for a lot of people saying it for the first time can be a struggle.

Maquoketa is a city in Jackson County, Iowa, United States. Located on the Maquoketa River, it is the county seat of Jackson County. U.S. Route 61 adjoins the city, which therefore hosts traffic between Dubuque and the Quad Cities. Iowa Highways 62 and 64 also pass through the city. Maquoketa Caves State Park is located a few miles northwest of Maquoketa.

Sioux City

Another one I grew up hearing and assumed everyone just knew how to say... apparently I was wrong.

Sioux City is in northwest Iowa. The Sioux City Art Center showcases work by artists from the Upper Midwest. Nearby, Sioux City Public Museum has local history displays, including a hands-on replica of a fossil dig site.


How is this on the list?! Some people call this spot DUB-U-K with a very hard k. (It should be pronounced as BYUWK) While that is closer to its actual name than some other spots get when mispronounced, it's still incorrect, and weird anytime I hear it.

Dubuque is the county seat of Dubuque County, Iowa, United States, located along the Mississippi River. At the time of the 2020 census, the population of Dubuque was 59,667. The city lies at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, a region locally known as the Tri-State Area. It serves as the main commercial, industrial, educational, and cultural center for the area.


Fun fact I thought Osceola was spelled with an A my entire childhood, I had to visit the spot to realize my mistake.

Osceola is a city in Clarke County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,415 at the time of the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Clarke County


I was avoiding super small cities since there are so many of them, but I had to put Quasqueton on here to wrap up the list because I still struggle at saying it right.

Quasqueton is a city in Buchanan County, Iowa, United States. The population was 570 at the time of the 2020 census. Just northwest of the town is Cedar Rock, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which is maintained by the state as a museum.


These are all cities I've heard people pronounce incorrectly before. The towns and smaller cities in Iowa are even worse when it comes to people butchering their names, but the towns of Iowa are for another time. Did we miss a city on this list? Let us know on our app.

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Iowa's Island City

There is something unique about every town, but there is really something special about Sabula, IA. Known as "Iowa's Island City," Sabula is the only town in the state of Iowa that is entirely on an island. While not a lot of people have been to, or live in Sabula, it is a quaint little town nestled right on the Mississippi River.

Before we show you around "Iowa's Island City," let me give you the history of Sabula. Sabula was established in 1835, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis. Isaac Dorman and a man named Hinkley crossed the river from the Illinois side on a log and decided to settle on what is now Sabula. An Ohio couple, James and Margaret Woods would settle on Sabula about a year later in April of 1836. Their son, Dr. E. A. Woods would purchase Hinkley's interest in the claim. Charles Swan and W. H. Brown would soon purchase Dorman's interest. The three men, Woods, Swan and Brown later had the land plotted in 1837.

The idea behind plotting the land was because there was no town between Lyons (north Clinton) and Bellevue. The plot of the new town was recorded in Dubuque as this area was part of Dubuque county at the time, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis.

According to Island City Harbor's website, Sabula went through a few names before landing on the official town name. In 1837, Sabula was first called Carrollport. Residents of the town didn't like the name because there was a man's name who was Carroll who had a bad reputation. The town changed its name to Charleston, after early settler Charles Swan. The only issue was that there was already a town called Charleston in Iowa which caused much confusion.

In 1846 the settler’s decided to find a name. Island City Harbor's website says that because of it’s sandy soil, William Hubble suggested the town be called "Sabulum" which is Latin for sand. A party was being held around the time the town name was being discussed, when a woman, supposed to be Miss Harriet Hudson, suggested the town be called Sabula as it was easier to pronounce and sounded more elegant, according History of Jackson County, Iowa, Volume 1 by James Whitcomb Ellis.

Sabula did not actually become an island until 1939. According to Wikipedia, in the 1930's, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed the lock and dam system. In 1939, Lock and Dam No. 13 between Clinton, IA and Fulton, IL was built which caused the bottomlands west of the town permanently flooded. With the Mississippi River east of the town, this created the "Island City." A levee was built around Sabula in 1957 for protection, according to Island City Harbor's website. This also allowed for the south sand pit to be turned into a boat harbor.

I would like to thank my mom Beth, her fiancé Matt, my brother Nolan and my wife Ellie for accompanying me to Sabula. We always have a blast on our trips and this one was no exception.

It's now time to introduce you to Sabula, Iowa, Iowa's Island City.

Ghost In Our Iowa Basement?

As a radio station, we have a lot of people here who have seen some scary stuff. Do you see any ghosts in these photos? I can't, but I also don't know what to look for.

This Isn't The First Face Caught On Camera Here!
In September of 2020 the band "Pit Lord" came to the building to shoot a music video. They shot it in the basement and for a split second in the recording, you can make out a face of what looks to be a woman. You can see that video here.

With a history of ghosts, it's safe to say the basement of our building is CREEPY!

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