Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge, city (1990 pop. 25,894), seat of Webster co., central Iowa, on the Des Moines River; settled c.1846; inc. 1869. Fort Clarke was built on the site in 1850 and renamed Fort Dodge the following year. In a mining and agricultural area, Fort Dodge is a rail and distribution center. Industries in the city pack meat and make farm equipment and fertilizers. Gypsum mills are in Fort Dodge, and the outlying region has extensive gypsum beds. The city has the Fort Dodge Historical Museum.
Fort Dodge is a city and county seat of Webster County, Iowa, United States, situated on the Des Moines River. The population was 25,136 at the 2000 census. Fort Dodge is a major commercial center for North Central and Northwest Iowa. It is located on U.S. Routes 20 and 169.


Fort Dodge is located at (42.506803, -94.180271).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38.4 km²), of which, 14.6 square miles (37.7 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it (1.89%) is water.


City of Fort Dodge
Population by year
1860 672
1870 3,095
1880 3,586
1890 4,871
1900 12,162
1910 15,543
1920 19,347
1930 21,895
1940 22,904
1950 25,115
1960 28,399
1970 31,263
1980 29,423
1990 25,894
2000 25,136

As of the census of 2000, there were 25,136 people, 10,470 households, and 6,376 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,726.1 people per square mile (666.6/km²). There were 11,168 housing units at an average density of 766.9/sq mi (296.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.47% White, 3.79% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.30% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.94% of the population.

There were 10,470 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.9% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.

Population spread: 24.3% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,361, and the median income for a family was $42,555. Males had a median income of $31,253 versus $23,360 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,018. About 7.7% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.2% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


U.S. Highway 20 bypasses Fort Dodge to the south, and U.S. 169 skirts the west side of the city; both highways have business routes through town. Iowa Highway 7 has its terminus at the northwest edge of the city.

The Fort Dodge Regional Airport is located north of town. It is primarily a general aviation airport with minimal commercial links.

Jefferson Bus lines serves Fort Dodge with a link to Williams.

Major industries

The major industries of Fort Dodge are: gypsum and limestone mining, drywall manufacturing, trucking, veterinary pharmaceuticals/vaccines, and retail.

Gypsum rock is processed into drywall and plaster products at several Fort Dodge manufacturing facilities. Drywall was patented by a Fort Dodge resident, and the gypsum used to create the Cardiff Giant hoax of the late 19th century was mined at Fort Dodge.

Fort Dodge is the home of Fort Dodge Animal Health (division of Wyeth) USA manufacturing. A major producer of pharmaceuticals and vaccines for veterinarians, the company's headquarters were moved from Fort Dodge to Overland Park Kansas in 1995. Two of the company's three USA manufacturing plants are located in Fort Dodge.

At least three major national trucking companies (primarily flatbed carriers serving the drywall industry) are based out of Fort Dodge.

Fort Dodge serves as a retail center for North-Central Iowa.

The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, 1,250-bed medium security state prison, opened in 1998.

For most of the 20th century, meatpacking was a major industry in Fort Dodge. The last two large meatpacking plants (owned by IBP and Hormel) closed during the 1980s. One of the laboratories of Fort Dodge Animal Health was built on the site of a former Hormel processing plant.


The Fort Museum has a replica of the Cardiff Giant, which was a fossilized giant humanoid "discovered" at Cardiff, New York. The Cardiff Giant was later proved to be a hoax, sculpted from gypsum mined at Fort Dodge. The Fort Museum is a full scale recreation of a military outpost on the prairie from the 19th century. Also in Fort Dodge is the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, the first public museum of art in the state of Iowa. The Blanden, opened June 5, 1932, is renowned as one of the finest small museums in the nation for its extensive permanent collection as well as popular touring exhibits.

The Fort Dodge Municipal Band is the Karl King Band, named after well-known composer Karl L. King, who was the leader of the municipal band for fifty years before his death in 1971. Several local landmarks are named after Karl King, including the bandshell at Oleson Park, a memorial statue in front of the Fort Dodge Public Library, and a bridge over the Des Moines River.

Hawkeye Community Theatre, one of the longest continually running theatre organizations in the state, is located on 521 North 12th Street. It is housed in a century old classic building converted for live theatre performances, and seats 220. HCT puts on six full length productions a year of varied genre. Website is


Fort Dodge is the home to the central campus of Iowa Central Community College.

The public school system is represented by Fort Dodge Senior High School (9-12), Phillips Middle School (PMS) (7-8), Fair Oaks (5-6), and several elementary schools.

Private schools in Fort Dodge include St. Edmond (Preschool-12),Community Christian School (pre-K -8), St Paul Lutheran (Preschool-8), and Harvest Baptist School (7-12)

Fort Dodge has been the location of some Iowa High School Athletic Association championships, including Cross Country championships at Kennedy Park. It is probably most well known in Iowa for hosting the state girls' softball championships at Harlan Rogers Park.


Oleson Park boasts a small zoo featuring a small population of albino white tailed deer. Oleson Park also has woods and hiking trails. The town's band shell is located here.

Snell-Crawford Park(bottom of Williams Drive, at 12th avenue) is a local favorite for weekend recreation. It has a disc golf course, 3 sand volleyball courts, exercise stations located along a jogging/walking trail, picnic tables and grills. In the summer kids go crawdad hunting.

Kennedy Park is the nearest camping facility to Fort Dodge. It has a larger camp ground, a lake with a swimming beach, and an 18-hole golf course.

The 300 acre Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park opened to the public on July 6, 2006. The park is located on abandoned gypsum mines. Plans are in place for the park to be expanded to as much as 1,500 acres in the future.

Fort Dodge is a top tubing destination in the state, offering the swift and clear waters of Lizard Creek, solitude on the Des Moines River from Fort Dodge to the Dolliver Park area, and the nearby lake at Brushy Creek.

The Fort Dodge Country Club features one of Iowa's premier 18 hole golf courses. The par 71 golf course will challenge golfers of all abilities, from the beginner to the seasoned pro. The recently renovated clubhouse boasts spacious rooms for weddings/parties. Amenities include a swimming pool, bar/restaurant, and a stocked pro shop.

Other Distinctions

Notable Residents


AM radio stations

  • 540 KWMT (Three Eagles Broadcasting, news/country/farm) 5 kW day/.2 kW night
  • 1400 KVFD (Three Eagles Broadcasting, news/talk/sports/oldies) — 1 kW

FM radio stations

  • 88.1 KICB (Iowa Central Community College Broadcasting, alternative rock) — 0.2 kW
  • 91.1 KTPR-FM (Iowa State University/WOI Radio Group, NPR) 100 kW
  • 92.1 KUEL (Three Eagles Broadcasting, adult contemporary) — 6 kW
  • 94.5 KKEZ (Three Eagles Broadcasting, adult contemporary) — 100 kW
  • 96.9 KIAQ (Three Eagles Broadcasting, Hot Country) - 100 kW
  • 99.7 KXFT (Three Eagles Broadcasting, Contemporary Hits) — 25 kW
  • 105.9 KTLB (Three Eagles Broadcasting, Classic Rock) - 25 kW

Television stations




External links

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