President Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch in 1874. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum was dedicated here by Hoover and his dear friend, President Harry Truman, in 1962. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, which includes the Library-Museum, the Hoover Birthplace Cottage and the gravesites of President and Lou Henry Hoover, was authorized by Congress on August 12, 1965.
Before the Civil War, areas in and around West Branch were stops of the Underground Railroad. Abolitionist John Brown once stayed at the Maxson farm east of West Branch. In 2008, archaeologists found evidence of unmarked graves in nearby North Liberty Cemetery while investigating an account of 17 escaped slaves who died before reaching Canada.
The West Branch Community School District has about 800 students and includes three schools: Hoover Elementary, West Branch Middle School and West Branch High School.
The city's industrial park is home to a major distribution center of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. The building is 550,000 square feet and as of 2007, is undergoing an expansion. The industrial park is also home to Plastic Products, Wausau and, by the end of 2007, will be home to Acciona Energía's first North American wind turbine assembly plant.
West Branch has been one of 36 communities in the Main Street Iowa program since being accepted on June 1, 2006. The program encourages downtown economic development through historic preservation.
The ZIP code for West Branch is 52358.
Scattergood Friends School, a Quaker boarding school, is located east of the town.
Oliphant Street Field, the playing field for the West Branch High School football team, is situated just northwest of downtown. Colloquially known as "the Little Rose Bowl", it was constructed by the Works Progress Administration by escalating a sloped field, yielding a playing field with natural seating on three sides.
The West Branch Bears boys golf team won four state championships, and the football team won three state championships, in 1989, 1991 and 1992.
There were 840 households out of which 37.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.7% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,500, and the median income for a family was $51,667. Males had a median income of $31,949 versus $26,379 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,577. About 4.5% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.