Founded at the fork of two wilderness rivers, Fort Des Moines (which narrowly escaped being named Fort Raccoon) was a temporary garrison of dragoons to keep the peace between Native Americans and settlers until the area could be organized into a territory. After the soldiers left in 1845, pioneers and squatters moved into the abandoned cabins of the stockade, and the city of Des Moines was born. Its central location between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers made it a natural center of provisioning and commerce for travelers heading west, and the city grew large enough to become Iowa’s state capital in 1857. With the city consistently ranked in the top ten best places to live and work, the residents of Des Moines enjoy a quality of life that is the envy of most. This collection of images provides a look back to the historical roots that made the city what it is today.