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What some locals describe as the "Gold Rush of the Midwest" the late 19th and early 20th Century industrial boom that greatly impacted the economy and the environment was centered around mother of pearl. Fresh water pearls found in shells taken from the rivers of 19 states in and around Iowa, were shipped to Muscatine, Iowa, located on the Western bank of the Mississippi River. Annually, 1.5 billion buttons were created and transported by railcar and barges to larger cities where clothing manufacturers could sell clothes at higher prices with pearl buttons attached to them. The National Pearl Button Museum tells the story of this industrial boom, it's impact on the local and national economies, and the environmental impact over clamming had during this era of success.


Accessed November 5th 2019. http://www.muscatinehistory.org/#sthash.cASzvQsj.dpbs.