basket dinner

Coon Rapids, Iowa

Coon Rapids is a city in Carroll and Guthrie counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 1,305 at the 2000 census. The small portion of Coon Rapids that lies in Guthrie County is part of the Des MoinesWest Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In September, 1959, Coon Rapids played a role in promoting détente between the United States and the Soviet Union, when a local man, Roswell Garst, hosted Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev on his farm.

In 2005, Coon Rapids was designated one of the first three "Iowa Great Places." The Great Places program, launched by Governor Tom Vilsack and implemented by the Department of Cultural Affairs, aimed to concentrate state agency resources on high-potential communities. See more on Great Places:


Coon Rapids is located at (41.872462, 94.676787), along the Middle Raccoon River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.5 km²), all of it land.

Coon Rapids-Whiterock named an Iowa Great Place

In October 2005, Coon Rapids-Whiterock area was elected a "Great Place" of Iowa for its rich history and resources, and creative future vision. The local Great Place committee represents an alliance between the nonprofit Whiterock Conservancy, the City of Coon Rapids, and the Coons Rapids Development Group.

Whiterock Conservancy is an Iowan nonprofit organized in late 2004 to administer a private conservation land donation from the Garst family of Coon Rapids. Its goals are environmental restoration, sustainable agriculture, and low-impact public use and education.

The first three Iowa Great Places (Coon Rapids, Clinton and Sioux City) were each awarded $1 million in seed money by the Iowa legislature. In September 2007, Coon Rapids was also awarded a $1.7 million Vision Iowa grant. The Coon Rapids Great Place Program combines natural resource restoration witb trails, public park development, elder care, diversity, historic preservation, microenterprise support, and tourism marketing.

For more information, see:

For recent updates on Coon Rapids under Great Places projects, see:

School Achievements

In 2002, eight students from CR-B were selected for the Iowa All-State Choir, which is a large number for a 1-A school district. In the summer of 2007 Coon Rapids-Bayard state baseball semi-finalist. In 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, Coon Rapids received a "Spanish Language and Cultural Assistant" partially financed via the Spanish Embassy to help introduce these topics into the school programs and curriculum.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,305 people, 543 households, and 346 families residing in the city. The population density was 750.7 people per square mile (289.6/km²). There were 571 housing units at an average density of 328.5/sq mi (126.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 99.16% White, 0.61% African American, 0.15% Native American, and 0.08% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.76% of the population. However, the town is making many positive diversity efforts including an annual migrant housing drive and welcome picnic, Spanish embassy language and cultural assistants, etc.

There were 543 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 23.0% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 25.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,951, and the median income for a family was $39,800. Males had a median income of $29,018 versus $22,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,765. About 6.8% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.7% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 67 or over.


This section copied from:

Brief account of the origins of Coon Rapids, Union township, Carroll county, Iowa: Sources cited, listed at end. Please go to the source document for more complete information.

The original town of Coon Rapids was, next to Carrollton, the first town in the county. It was not known by that name, but there was a sort of frontier outpost at that point, on the route from Des Moines, Panora, Sioux City and points farther northwest [1].

The land was first taken up by one O.J. Niles, a peculiar character, who attracted the attention of the early pioneers. He was elected justice of the peace and was an important individual in the transaction of business for his neighbors [1]. It is related that a man named Tuttle, of Tuttle's Grove, felt a grievance over a horse trade he had made with Samuel Wilson, and stated the details of the transaction to 'Squire Niles. The 'suire listened patiently, and at the close advised Mr. Tuttle that the law in the case was so complicated that he could not obtain justice. Some suspicious persons, always inquiring as to the relations of cause to effect, remarked that Wilson was a splendid shot, and Miles was very fond of venison [2].

O.J. Niles enter the land on which Coon Rapids stands, in Union Township, in 1855. Mr. Niles was from Western Michigan, and probably of Yankee birth [2]. He lived in a 16 x 36 log house [2], the site of the present funeral home [3]. (The centennial report says: The earliest record of any settlement is in 1854; one of the earliest in Carroll County. In 1853, Obediah Niles, a Yankee by birth, came from Michigan. He purchased of land from the government and the tract included almost all of the present town site [3].) His (Obedian Niles) nearest neighbors were at Tuttle's Grove where Mr. Charles Cretsinger now lives [3].

The nearest railroad was at Des Moines [3]. A mail route was established in 1858 between Panora and Sioux City, with intermediate offices at Carrollton and Denison [2].

The earliest record of a 4th of July gathering was in 1859 at Tuttle's Grove. Lawson Mingus stood barefooted at the foot of a huge oak and read the Declaration of Independence. That evening, a dance was held at Sammy Wilson's on Brushy Creek and many danced barefooted. It is recorded that people from the little hamlet of Coon Rapids attended the event [3].

In 1861, he (O.J. Niles) sold a few acres of his land to a man by the name of Winfred who started to improve the mill site, on Middle Coon [1]. The settlers were so enthusiastic over the prospect of a mill in their vicinity that they held their Fourth of July celebration that year on the proposed mill-site [2].

In 1863 Crockett Ribble, County Treasurer, bought the site and commensed to improve it, with financial assistance from the county. A Mr. Frizzell set up a store to supply the men with tobacco and other "necessaries," and John J. McCollum started a blacksmith shop [2].

Jacob Cretsinger lived on Wilson Hill, east of the mill. He carried mail from Panora to Sioux City on horseback. Anxious to have a mail station nearer his home, he petitioned the government for a post office for Coon Rapids and suggested the name [3].

William Minnich bought the land in 1865 and laid out a town, and built the house (where William Schnepps now lives - in 1887), to rent as a store [2]. The first occupant was Shoemaker & Endicott [2].

But the old town did not prosper, and when the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad built through, in 1882, there were but few families there. The Western Town Lot Company then laid out the new town, alongside the railroad, a mile or so west from the old site, and newcomers were numerous and the town grew rapidly [1].

The Coon Rapids Bank was opened in June, 1882, by Lyons & Cooney [2]. The City Bank was established in the autumn of 1882, by H.L. Miller & Co., the present proprietors (1887) [2].

The first graded school building was put up in 1883 [2].

In the Enterprise of 1883 is the earliest printed record of a 4th of July celebration. A brass band of 12 instruments was organized for the event. The program was as follows: National salute of 107 guns at sunrise. Prayer by the Chaplain. Reading of the Declaration of Independence. Address of State Senator from Panora. Music by the brass band. Vocal Selection. Basket dinner followed by toasts and responses. There were races, baseball and other amusements. In the evening following supper, the program consisted of music by the band, fireworks and dancing [3].

Coon Rapids was incorporated in 1884, the result of an election held December 19, 1882 [2]. Officers were elected in January following, and J.H. Louthan was the first mayor. The officers for 1886-1887 were: Mayor, T.C. Reid; Recorder, D.M. Grove; Councilmen, A.R. Harfield, C.E. Morris, B.H. Shute; H.L. Miller, Henry Wallace and I.L. Dermond; Treasurer, J.H. Louthan; Assessor, Theophilus George; Marshal, James Mulford; Street Commissioner, Geroge Miller [2].

In 1885, the population of the town was 729 [1].

The following firms are in business at Coon Rapids in December, 1886:

   * J.H. Adams, Merrill Hotel;
   * W.H. Asher & Co., general store;
   * J. Bates & Co., drugs;
   * Beed Brothers, elevator;
   * E.J. Bradley, lumber;
   * A. Brutsche, general store;
   * C.L. Cady, barber;
   * John Cooney, bank;
   * Cumpston & Co., drugs;
   * L.A. Cushman, barber;
   * Dale & George, elevator;
   * I.L. Dermond & Bro., grocery;
   * B.F. Erb, drugs;
   * George Foreman, mill;
   * H.Frisbie, livery;
   * E. & W. Garst, general store;
   * A.M. Graham, meat market;
   * A.R. Hatfield, general store;
   * S.D. Henry, publisher of the Enterpise;
   * L. Hoffman, tailor;
   * Holliday & Harris, insurance;
   * O.D. Houghton, butcher;
   * S.E. Huse, lumber;
   * M.H. Ish, grocery;
   * W.J. Jackley, billiard hall;
   * Jones Bros., hardware;
   * F.C. Jones, postoffice;
   * W. Law, blacksmith;
   * J.H. Louthan, harness shop;
   * William McNabb, meat market;
   * H.L. Miller & Co., bank;
   * C.E. Morris, grocery;
   * Mrs. J.D. Parrott, millinary;
   * L.L. Peck, bakery and billiard hall;
   * E.A. Rogers, photographer;
   * Scott & Son, blacksmiths;
   * Steele & Johnson, furniture;
   * A.R. Taylor, hardware;
   * O.C. Triplett, restaurant;
   * J.E. Tucker, jeweler;
   * Henry Wallace, blacksmith;
   * J.F. Yetter, harness;
   * G.W. Zollinger, confentionery [2].

The first class was graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 1888. The class contained eight seniors [3].
[See Alumni Pages, through the years:]


   * [1] From History of Carroll County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, by Paul Maclean, Volume I, Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company (1912).
   * [2] Biographical and Historical Record of Greene and Carroll Counties, Iowa. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company (1887).
   * [3] Coon Rapids Centennial Page


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