Buena Vista County, IA
Buena Vista County is in the third tier of counties from the northern boundaries of the state, and the third east of the Missouri River. It is bounded on the north by Clay, on the east by Pocahontas, on the south by Sac, and on the west by Cherokee. It is watered by the Little Sioux River, which runs in an east and west direction through the northern portion, and by the head waters of the North Raccoon River.
There are some large groves of oak, maple, ash, black walnut, cottonwood and &c. on the Little Sioux, but the aggregate of timber for the space of seventy-five miles along this river is not equal to that on the Des Moines, Boone, or Iowa rivers, and will only be sufficient to supply the settlers within a few miles of the river. The natural tendency of an increase of timber along this river and many other streams, seen in the young growth extending from the river groves upon the prairies, especially when the fire has been kept away from them by the settlers for two or three years, shows that the fires alone are a sufficient reason at present for the scarcity of time. So well adapted does this valley appear to be for the growth of nearly a dozen kinds of good timber, that if the fires were kept from the prairies for several miles from the timber for five years, that space would no doubt be covered by a young forest.
This stream, like as those on the Missouri slope, however wide the bottoms may be, often stretching one or two miles, has cut a deeper channel than the streams of the same size in other districts. There are more abundant springs near the banks, and hence the country is better drained. The prairie is more gently and almost uniformly rolling, with but very few quarter sections in any township of exclusively grass land. The growth of blue joint and other nutritious grasses, is larger than of the same species in Eastern counties, indicating an equal adaptation to stock raising and to grain culture. Storm Lake, in the southern part of the county, is a beautiful sheet of clear water of considerable depth, and over three miles long, with perpendicular earth banks surrounding a part of it and also a line of boulders, forming in some places a low natural wall piled up by the action of the ice, as is the case with many other lakes of this kind. The outlet, is said, in high water to be toward the Boyer river, a tributary of the Missouri. It is, therefore, near the highest land, in line from Ft. Dodge to the Missouri River. At this point, the characteristics of the Missouri slope also appear, as they do also on the divide further southward in Sac county. One of these is the appearance of small concretions of lime in the soil, which are turned by the plow and thrown up by the burrowing animals. They appear to dissolve on the surface and to be forming in the soil, and that is an indication of good wheat land. There is a grove of inferior timber near the lake, but no other within ten miles, and north and west it is still further to that on the Little Sioux River. The lake has an unfortunate name, and it is a misnomer to have a “Storm Lake” in a country with such a fine climate as western Iowa.
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