Oskaloosa, city (1990 pop. 10,632), seat of Mahaska co., SE Iowa, on the North and South Skunk rivers; inc. 1852. It is the trade and processing center of a rich farm and livestock area. Machinery, feeds, egg products, and steel are manufactured. Coal has been mined there for over 100 years. A small fort was established there in 1835, and it became a post on a much-traveled westward trail. The city was settled (1844) by Quakers. William Penn Univ. and Vennard College are there.

Oskaloosa is a city in and the county seat of Mahaska County, Iowa, United States. The population was 10,938 at the 2000 census.

Oskaloosa is the current home of William Penn University and the former home of Oskaloosa College. Vennard College is located in the connected municipality of University Park, Iowa.

It is the headquarters of Musco Lighting, an Academy Award-winning company that provides permanent and temporary lighting for major sports venues around the world.


Oskaloosa derives its name from Ouscaloosa who according to town lore was a Creek princess who married Seminole chief Osceola. It means "last of the beautiful.

The first white settlers arrived in 1835 led by Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone who acting on instructions from Stephen W. Kearny selected it to be the first site of Fort Des Moines on a high ridge between what Skunk River and Des Moines River. The ridge was originally called the Narrows.

The town was formally platted in 1844 when William Canfield who had a trading post on the Des Moines River moved it to Oskaloosa. It became the county seat in the same year.

In the 1880s more than a million tons of bituminous coal was mined in the area.


Oskaloosa is located at (41.293856, -92.644546).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.9 square miles (17.8 km²), of which, 6.9 square miles (17.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.29%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 10,938 people, 4,603 households, and 2,863 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,593.8 people per square mile (615.6/km²). There were 4,945 housing units at an average density of 720.5/sq mi (278.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.86% White, 1.16% African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.32% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.26% of the population.

There were 4,603 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.2% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.

Population spread: 24.1% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,490, and the median income for a family was $42,138. Males had a median income of $33,830 versus $23,698 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,721. About 10.6% of families and 13.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 11.6% of those age 65 or over.


In the city's town square is a bronze statue of Chief Mahaska, the 19th-century leader of a Native American tribe called the Ioways, for whom Mahaska County was named. Recently restored, the artwork was completed in 1907 by an Iowa-born sculptor named Sherry Edmundson Fry (1879-1966). At the time it was commissioned, Fry was living in Paris. He returned to Iowa the following summer to make preparatory drawings of Mesquakie Indians at the nearby settlement at Tama, Iowa, and to collect Indian artifacts and other reference materials. Returning to Paris, he began on a clay scale model, which he first showed at the Paris Salon in 1907. A year later, he exhibited the final full-sized sculpture, for which he won the Prix de Rome. Soon after, it was shipped to the US, and arrived in Oskaloosa by railroad in September. The formal dedication of the statue, which was attended by a crowd of about 12,000 people, was held on May 12, 1909.

Also in Oskaloosa are two private homes designed in 1948-51 by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Typical of his Usonian homes, these include the Alsop House at 1907 A Street, and the Lamberson House at 511 North Park Avenue.

There are also many geocaches in Oskaloosa. See geocaching.


Nelson Pioneer Farm, located just a couple miles northeast of the city, is the home of the Nelson Home and Barn. The farm, built in the 1850s, is on the National Registry of Historic Sites. The third week of September is a Pioneer Festival featuring exhibits, demonstrations, music, food, and more.

The Southern Iowa Fair is one of the largest traditional county fairs in Iowa. Midway rides, 4-H Fair booths, livestock exhibits, and a petting zoo are just a few of the aspects of this traditional fair. Campgrounds are also available to those wanting to stay at the fair site for days.

Art on the Square is an annual event held in the downtown on the city square. This event features local artists as well as artists from various locales.

The Sweet Corn Serenade is another annual event held in the downtown on the city square. This even has musicians playing on the bandstand. It also features games, but the main attraction is the corn on the cob that you can get, along with many other foods.

Yet another annual event is the lighted Christmas parade, which usually takes place in early December. This parade features the Oskaloosa Marching Indians playing "Jingle Bells"

Notable natives

External links


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