(I've tried to catch typo's from the conversion from pdf format to web page,
not always successfully)
The attention of western emigrants has been turned very much to the
State of Iowa for the past two or three years. Especially have the eyes
of men been charmed, with the beautiful country which lies along the
Des Moines Hiver. Letters of inquiry are received daily, in large numbers,
by those who have been here long enough to be supposed to have any
information to give, and the settlement of the regoin about Fort Dodge
promises to be rapid. To meet these inquiries, and furnish correspondents
with the means of answering those who desire information, the following
statement has boen prepared for their use, and may be relied upon as
literally true, and worthy of implicit confidence.
A Brief Description of Fort Dodge.
The Valley of the Des Moines River docs not present a more powerful
attraction at any point through its whole length, than the region that lies
about Fort Dodge,—either in reference to beauty of scenery, richness
of soil, purity and abundance of water, extent and variety of mineral
wealth, or healthfullness.
The town lies upon the east bank of the river, 200 miles west from
Dubuque, and was selected by Government, gn accovu.it of these advantages,
as well as the fact that it lay directly in the line of Chicago,
Dubuque, Sioux City and the South Pass. It is tlie County Seat of
Webster County ; the Land Office of the central District of northern Iowa
is located here ; it commands the trade of the valley from the Minnesota
lino on the north to the Boone River on the south, together with all the
range of country which lies between the Des Moines and the Missouri.
the Valley of the Des Moines is already settled through its whole
length, having thriving villages springing up at short intervals, all of
which, within the limits specified, must always find their outlets through
Fort Dodge. These local advantages clearly indicate tlie importance
of the place, testify to the wisdom of. an early settlement, and promise
a bright and prosperous course for the future.
The site of Fort Dodge was selected for a Military Post, by
Brevt. General Mason, thou Colonel of the 6th Infantry. Its object
was to keep in check the Sioux Iudians, and was placed at the extreme
part of what was called the neutral ground between the Sioux,
Sac amd Fox Indians. Maj. Woods was ordered on, in the spring of
1850, and established a post which lie called Fort Clarke. But another
post in Now Mexico having rooieved the same name, to prevent confu-
sion, it was changed, by order of the Secretary of War, to Fort Dodge,
in honor of Senator Dodge, of Wisconsin. In July, 1863, the troop*
were withdrawn, and ordered on to establish Fort Ridgely. November
5th, 1855, a Land Office was established hero, and the country known
as "The Fort Dodge Land District." The present town-site was purchased,
when vacated as a Military Post, by the "Fort Dodgo Company,"
consisting of the Hon. Bernhart Henn, Hon. George Gillaapy, Col. Jesse
Williams, and Maj. Wm. Williams.
Fort Dodge is nearly midway between the Mississippi and Missouri
Rivers, in a rich, beautiful and picturesque valley, and must of necessity
be important as a place of trade and manufactures for its supply. It is
now reached by the Dubuque & Pacific R. R. as far as Nottingham, 40
miles, and thence by stage in throe days travel by daylight only. Also,
through Demoine, from Iowa City, in four days and one night. Freights
are brought both ways, at an expense of from $2,50 to $3.00 per 100.
The Dubuque & Pacific R. R. will soon bo open to Manchester, making
50 miles. Sixty-one miles further is partially graded, and the whole is
under contract to Fort Dodge. To carry this road to completion, in
addition to stock, a full grant of 3,810 acres of land por mile (the same
as given to the Illinios Central,) has been made, which, at $12 por aero,
which is less than the average of prices got for thoir land, will bring tho
road $15,2'75,520, or $46,080 per mile. The company is entitled to
lands for 20 miles before commencement, a like quantity when 20 miles
is completed, and so on till the whole is finished. In addition to this,
donations of land to the value of $600,000 have been made by individuals.
These facts are a guarantee that the road will be completed at an early day.
A Rail Road is also in progress from Keokuk up the Des Moines
Valley, which is to extend to the Great Bend of the St. Peters, in Minnesota,
giving us ready access to the Lower Mississippi, and opening a
communication with the timber country which lies to the north. Thus
there will be opened a market east and south, and reaching that part of
the Mississippi which is below the embarrassmonts which occur in a low stage
The town of Fort Dodge is situated upon an elevated plateau, cornposed
of throe terraces, which rise in all about 150 feet above the level,
of the rivor. Upon the cast it is approached by an extensive prairie ;
on the north, west, and south, it is surrounded by heavy timber. The
banks on the west side torminato precipitously, forming an amphitheatre
around the town, and adding exceedingly to the beauty of the scene,
which is declared by all who have seen it, to be unequaled by anything
west of the Mississippi River. the Des Moines, a pure, bright, clear
stream, flows over a rook and pebble bottom at the base. Streams
enter above and below the town, and a never failing stream, called tho
Lizzard River, enters from the west ;—all those are clothed with timber,
and furnish an abundanco of water power, the Des Moines at this
point is about as largo as the Cuyahoga at Cleveland, and abounds with
salmon, pickerel, and other fine fish. From its central position in such
a country, away from the reach of any large city which could divert
trade, and having dependencies at the north and west, it must of necessity
hold out inducements hardly to bo equaled at any other point.
The first building, aside from Government barracks, which were
eleven in number, was put up in the spring of 1856, but the population
now amounts to 1200, while that of the county is over 5000. A good brick
School House, two stories high, and costing over $4000, has been built,
and a school of 96 scholars is now in successful operation. The Presbyterians,
Roman Catholics, Congrogationalists, Methodists, and Episcopalians,
have each an Organization and minister ; the two former have built
places of worship, and the two latter contemplate doing so next
The population is made up of emigrants from all the Eastern and Middle
States, England, Ireland, and Germany, and will compare with any
town in the east, in respect to education, refinement, and intelligence.
A large number are graduates of eastern colleges, and the notes of the
piano and other instruments are no strangers to our ears. It is confidently
believed that there is no town in the west where there is a larger
proportion of men and women of education and cultivation. An evidence
of this may bo seen in the maintenance of a weekly Literary Society, at
which original essays, poems, and rhetorical exercises, aro exibited.
Over 1400 subsciptions to various periodicals are received at this office.
A large and well conducted weekly newspaper, "THE FORT DODOGE
SENTINEL," is published by A. S. White, (John F. Duncombe and A. S.
White, Editors,) and other means of improvement and amusement are
Among the many inducements presented to settlors at this point, not
the least is our
On both sides of the Des Moines River, inexhaustible beds of Coal of
excellent quality, crop out of the banks. These beds are already opened
and wrought, within eighty rods of the depot grounds, and are reached
without excavation or extra expense. Besides furnishing fuel for
domestic and industrial purposes, it must be an important source of
revenue when the Dubuque & Pacific Rail Road opens this valley to
the upper Mississippi.
There is also an immense deposit of Plaster of Paris, or Gypsum,—
perhaps the best in the United States. It is 18 to 20 feet thick and
covers an area of not less than ten miles square. When calcined and
pulverized, it is as white as any1 in the world. Preparations will be made,
next summer for grinding it. It has been thoroughly tested, and is found
to be of superior quality for building purposes, and can be furnished at
much less cost than lime. It has been used with sand alone for plastering
walls, and makes a smoothe and beautiful finish at a very tritling
The timber upon the river consists of Whito and Red Oak, Sugar-
Maple, Black and White Walnut, Linn or Basswood, Kim, Hickory and
Locust, beside many others öf inferior growth, such as Iron wood, Cottonwood,
&c. the price of lumber this Spring will bo from $2 00 to
50 for all kinds to finish a house. There'aro several saw and grist
mills within some 10 to 13 miles,—some of which are near the town,
and a huge flour mill is to be erected here the coming season. Carpenters,
masons and other mechanic's, get high wages, and there is a pressing
necessity for a largo increase. Stonecutters, agricultural implement
makers and other mechanics, could not fail to do well.
Town lots vary in price from $75 to $000, according to location. Improved
farms, within three, six and ten miles, are hold at from $10 to
$20 per acre. Prairie lands, samo distances, unimproved, from Government
price up to $8. Timbered lands, from $10 to $25. Prairie lands
may be fenced for about 60 cents per rod, all hired ; and after the first
crop, are the same as old farms in all desirable respects. The soil,, which
is a dark alluvial, varies from 2 to 6 feet in depth, is suitable for all kinds
of grain. Corn, potatoes, wheal,—iu line, all the products of the middle
States, grow in the richest profusion.
For the benefit of thoso not conversant with prairie lands, wo will
remark that the turf is broken, if hired, for from $2 60 to $3 00 per acre.
Corn is then planted and left untouched until harvest, when from 2.0 to
40 bushels ma)' bo gathered, having cost no further labor than planting
and picking. After this crop, the land is fit ior auy crop, and is free
from thoso incumbrances which so long , injure the appearance and productions
of a farm where the timber is heavy. It is, evident from these
facts, that a small investment iu land, with another for a small house,
many a man who is. struggling with poverty at the East, might soon be
entirely independent. It must be remembered that , every acre of this
land is not only, tillable, but of the richest quality, none of it lying waste
because of rocks and swamps, The timber lands furnish him posts and
boards, i f ho chooses, or he can use wire, which is cheaper,—the coal
mines his fuel, so that his farm need not be any larger than he may wish
to keep under cultivation.
There is another important fact to be noticed. The hay, which may
bo cut anywhere upon the open prairie, is pronounced as good as that
made of timothy and clover, so that a man may keep any amount of
stock he may desire, without waiting several years for his fields to be
ready for the scythe. The grass in summer is of such richness that cattle
are always fat, and sheep are healthy and vigorous.
The climate is excellent ; for except the two last winters, there has
boon very little difference between the present and past winters, since
the first settlement of the State. This vicinity is remarkable for health,
being free from those intermittent fevers which are the terror of settlers.
We have thus united such manifest advantages over most other portions
of the West, as must commend our town and vicinity to the favorable
consideration of observing men.
By looking at the map you will see that with the Dubuque & Pacific
and Valley Railroads, we must command a wide extent of country, and
have the advantage of communication with both Southern and Eastern
markets. Giving due weight to these considerations, it must be evident
that thousands would greatly improve their worldly condition, and run
no risk, by removal to this part oí tho West. At present, prices are
high for heavy goods; but when our Railroads are finished, which must
be at no distant day, they will be furnished as cheap as at Chicago,
All the products of the country are low, this year, and it is important
that those who contemplate a removal to the West, should be hero soon
if they wish to avail themselves of the low price of land and other advantages
of an early settlement, as every month is adding to the value
and price of land. If it is delayed till the Railroad is finished, the price
of land will be quadrupled. Fort Dodge has already got such an upward
impulse, that it is vain to deny that it will be an important town.
The land within six miles West, and twice that distance North, is already
settled by pre-emptors, and, with the adjacent land on the Plast sido of
the river, already contains a population sufficient to support a good sized
town, while the whole length of the river is lined with thrifty farms-
Merchants of various kinds aro needed, in addition to those already
here, to meet the wants of a constantly increasing community.
Since the above was prepared, orders have been given at Washington
to bring in all the unsold lands in this part of tho State, which will
immensely increase the weight of all theso considerations, and render
what might be thought mere conjecture, a matter of certainty.
Advertising pg 11: John F. Duncombe, John Garaghty, Chas. M. White, Charles
B. Richards, Egbert Bagg
Advertising pg 12: Hezekiah Beecher, Edward D.G. Morgan,
J.C. Woobury, A.M. Dawley, James B. Strow, John D. Strow
Advertising page 13: W.O. Ruggles, G.G. Bissell, C.R. Bissell
S.B. Olney, Albert Morrison, James Swain
Advertising page 14: B. Grayson & Co., Chas. A. Sherman, C.H. Stoddard, H.D. Merritt
Advertising page 15: G.G Bissell, C.R. Bissell, Luther L. Pease, G.S. Ringland, J.J. Barclay
Henry Carse, Dan. H. Smith
Advertising page 16: Wm. N. Meservey, Hon. Thos. Sargent,
Henry Wisner, James Gilchrist, Sam. M. Ribbins
Advertising page 17: C.G. Bruce, C. Bruce, Stephen B. Ayers