city, seat (1839) of Johnson county, east-central Iowa, U.S., on the Iowa River, 27 miles (43 km) south of Cedar Rapids. Founded as territorial capital of Iowa in 1839, it lost the state capital to Des Moines in 1857 but retained the University of Iowa (1847). With the arrival of the railroad (1855), Iowa City became an important dispersal point for westward immigrants. Coralville, just to the west, was the starting point for the Mormon handcart expedition to Utah of 1856.
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