Friday, August 15, 2014

Keokut, Iowa

We arrived in this town about mid-afternoon today.  The owner of the rv park where stopped for the night   strongly encouraged us to drive into Keokut and at least view the large dam there, located on the Mississippi River.  He informed us that one of Keokut's early bridges across the Mississippi has become an observation deck from which we could view the river and watch riverboats going through the locks.
The observation platform was closed today- however John and I, while driving around the town, discovered a hill that offered us a fairly good view of the river and dam.  Construction of the dam and powerhouse began in 1910.  Upon its completion in 1918  it was the largest single capacity powerhouse generating platform in the world.  A local resident informed us that during World War II Hitler planned on targeting the powerhouse as one of 10 areas in the United States to bomb.  Something else interesting which we found out about the dam is that it supplies power for the St.Louis metro area and southeastern Iowa.  It is owned by Ameren of Missouri.
We were impressed by the many old Victorian-style homes in Keokut, many of which are not in good repair.  Pictured above is the Katie John House.  Mary Huskamp Calhoun grew up in this house and wrote about it in her Katie John books.  The house was built in 1872 by Henry Clark who sold medicines to the military hospitals of Keokut during the Civil War.  As a side note here, many wounded Union and Confederate soldiers were brought to Keokut by riverboat to be cared for in the hospitals.  In Keokut is one of the twelve original national cemeteries of our nation.  Another side note here:  Samuel Clemens worked in this town from 1855-1856.  While walking in the historic district we found a marker noting the site of the Orion Clemens Print Shop.  Orin and Samuel printed the first Keokut directory in 1856.
The town is named after Chief Keokut, his remains were placed in the base of the monument pictured above.  He was a Sauk leader who did not oppose the advance of the white man and refused to participate in the Black Hawk War of 1832.   The sculpture of him is located in Rand Park.  While there we took some time to walk through a beautiful flower garden where we found a impressive sculpture of a hummingbird which has a tree trunk as its' base.  It seemed amazing to us that a small town as Keokut (population of about 10,000) has so much rich history as well as interesting attractions.

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