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Native Americans inhabited the gentle sloping bluffs along the Mississippi River on which Davenport now sits. The peoples who lived on the fertile soil of eastern Iowa were forced into selling their land for pennies to white settlers. From the original survey of the town in 1836 throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, progress was steady as steamboats navigated the dangerous rapids of the Mississippi River, and settlers came to battle extreme Midwest winters and plow the unbroken prairie. In 1856, the first bridge to span the river was completed here, heralding the locomotive from the east and becoming of major importance to the movement west. German and other immigrant families came in droves and with them the development of major national industrial centers for agriculture and its implements, lumber and building material, alcohol and tobacco, and numerous other products. Davenport has been a town of unusual and fascinating history.