Oskaloosa, Iowa

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Oskaloosa, Iowa
Nickname(s): Osky
Motto: "Note the Difference"
Location of Oskaloosa, Iowa
Location of Oskaloosa, Iowa
Oskaloosa, Iowa is located in USA
Oskaloosa, Iowa
Oskaloosa, Iowa
Location in the United States
Coordinates: Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Mahaska
Incorporated February 4, 1875[1]
 • Total 7.45 sq mi (19.30 km2)
 • Land 7.43 sq mi (19.24 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
Elevation 840 ft (256 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 11,463
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 11,555
 • Density 1,542.8/sq mi (595.7/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 52577
Area code(s) 641
FIPS code 19-59925
GNIS feature ID 0459908

Oskaloosa is a city in and the county seat of Mahaska County, Iowa, United States.[5] The population was 11,463 in the 2010 census, an increase from 10,938 in the 2000 census.[6][7]


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." (This interpretation of "last of the beautiful" is not correct. "Oskaloosa" in the Mvskoke-Creek language means "black rain" from the Mvskoke words "oske" (rain) and "lvste" (black). "loosa" is an English corruption of the Mvskoke word "lvste". See for example the Wikipedia entry for Tuskaloosa, eponym of the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In addition the Mvskoke word "Ouscaloosa" means "Black Water").[8] 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.

Theodore Roosevelt campaigns in the Oskaloosa city square in the fall of 1912.

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.[8]

On January 6, 1882, most of the buildings in the north half of Oskaloosa were severely damaged and most of the plate glass windows in the area were broken by an explosion. Three boys were killed in the explosion. The boys had been seen shooting at the A. L. Spencer gunpowder magazine half a mile north of the town center.[9]

In the 1880s, over a million tons of bituminous coal was mined in the area from 38 mines. The first mine in the area was opened shortly after 1853 by Robert Seevers, who in 1853 drove a drift into a 4-foot coalbed in an exposed creek bank east of town.[10] Initially, coal was mined entirely for local consumption, but with the arrival of the railroads, coal from the region was shipped widely. By 1887, the report of the state mine inspector listed 11 coal mines in and around Oskaloosa.[11] The coal output of Mahaska County surpassed that of all other Iowa counties by 1895, by which time, the output had reached over a million tons per year.[12] In 1911, coal mining was reported to be the primary industry in the region.[13] In 1914, the Carbon Block Coal Company of Centerville produced over 100,000 tons of coal, ranking among the top 24 coal producers in the state.[14]

The Sam Smith coal mine in 1895. It was located in what is now the 1300 block of High Avenue West.

There were several major coal-mining camps in the Oskaloosa area. Muchakinock was about 5 miles south of town, on the banks of the Muchakinock Creek. Lost Creek was a mining camp about 8 miles southeast of town. On January 24, 1902, there was a mine explosion in the Lost Creek No. 2 mine. This was one of only two major mine disasters in Iowa between 1888 and 1913. A miner setting shots to blast coal from the coal face re-used a hole left over from a previous failed shot, and the result was a coal dust explosion that detonated barrels of gunpowder stored in the mine. 20 men died on the site and 14 more were badly injured. The explosion sparked a statewide miner's strike, and as a result, the following April, a law was passed regulating blasting in coal mines.[15][16]


Oskaloosa is located at Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. (41.293856, −92.644546).[17]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.45 square miles (19.30 km2), of which, 7.43 square miles (19.24 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.[2]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 625
1860 4,393 602.9%
1870 3,204 −27.1%
1880 4,598 43.5%
1890 6,558 42.6%
1900 9,212 40.5%
1910 9,466 2.8%
1920 9,427 −0.4%
1930 10,123 7.4%
1940 11,024 8.9%
1950 11,124 0.9%
1960 11,053 −0.6%
1970 11,224 1.5%
1980 10,989 −2.1%
1990 10,632 −3.2%
2000 10,938 2.9%
2010 11,463 4.8%
Est. 2014 11,541 [18] 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 11,463 people, 4,715 households, and 2,842 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,542.8 inhabitants per square mile (595.7/km2). There were 5,144 housing units at an average density of 692.3 per square mile (267.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.3% White, 2.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 4,715 households of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.7% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 35.8 years. 23.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 13.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 23.2% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

2000 census

As of the census[20] 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 per square mile (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.


Top Ten Companies

Employer Date Founded Type of Business Approximate Number of Employees Description of Services
Musco Lighting 1976 Sports Lighting 450 Academy Award and Emmy award-winning company that provides permanent and temporary lighting for major sports venues around the world.
Oskaloosa Community Schools Education 375 Includes a high school, middle school, elementary school, preschool and alternative school
Mahaska Health Partnership 1907 Healthcare Services 450 Mahaska Health Partnership has a history of making healthcare personal in our community for more than 100 years. Our new patient care wing opened in September 2013, and is home to Surgical Services, Inpatient Services and the Birthing Center. This new patient care wing provides us with the space, technology and accommodations to care for our community for generations to come.

Other services offered on campus include: -Emergency Services, with a Level III Trauma certification, Family Practice, Podiatry, Orthopaedics, Pediatrics, Allergy, Cardiopulmonary, Behavioral Health Services, Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry, Medical Nutrition Therapy, Home Health and Hospice Services, Hospice Serenity House, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Diabetes Education, Wound Ostomy, Public Health, Cancer Care and Infusion Center, Flight Physicals, Laboratory Services, Radiology, Massage Therapy, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sleep Services, Walk-in Clinics, Whispering Tree Gifts, Visiting Specialists regularly on campus

MHP also offers services in New Sharon, IA at the New Sharon Medical Center.

Clow Valve Company 1878 Manufacturing 350 The Oskaloosa plants include iron and brass foundries, a machine shop, assembly, finished goods warehousing, shipping and administrative offices. Clow Valve Company's primary products include fire hydrants and a variety of valves.
Wal-Mart 1962 Retail Department Store 265 An American public corporation that runs a chain of large, discount department stores.
William Penn University 1873 Education 300 A private, liberal arts university.
City of Oskaloosa 1844 Municipal Government 199
Hy-Vee 1930 Retail Food Store 155 An employee-owned chain of supermarkets located in the Midwestern United States.
Cunningham Inc 1969 Mechanical Contractor-Commercial, Industrial 100 Sheetmetal Mfg, Hvac, Geo-Thermal, Plumbing-Piping, Architectural Metal-Roofing, Industrial Services, Duct Cleaning, and Heating and Air Conditioning Services .
Mahaska Bottling Co. Soft Drinks 97 Pepsi-Cola bottling company
  • Includes full, part-time and seasonal employees.
    • Source: LocationOne Information Systems website and telephone survey conducted February 2010

Arts and culture

Annual events

The Southern Iowa Fair is one of the largest traditional county fairs in Iowa and is held each July.

Art on the Square is held each June on the city square. This event features local and regional artists.

Sweet Corn Serenade is held each August on the city square. A concert by the municipal band is the highlight of the corn-on-the-cob and pork burger feast.

Each December, the Lighted Christmas Parade travels through the downtown area on two consecutive nights. The floats in the parade are adorned with lights for the after-dark event.

Government and politics

The City of Oskaloosa has a Mayor-City Council-City Manager form of government under a Home Rule Charter. The Mayor and City Council are elected. The City Council is composed of seven members who have the responsibility of making decisions regarding rules and regulations pertaining to Oskaloosa.

The Mayor is elected for a two-year term and Council Members are elected to serve for four years. The City Manager is appointed by the City Council. The current Mayor is David Krutzfeldt.

The city is a sister city with Shpola, Ukraine.

In July 2015, Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a family picnic at Oskaloosa's George Daily Community Auditorium, which the Des Moines Register was not permitted to cover.[21]


Oskaloosa is the home of William Penn University, a private, liberal arts college. It was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1873 as Penn College. In 1933, the name was changed to William Penn College, and finally to William Penn University in 2000.

Oskaloosa was the home of the now-defunct Oskaloosa College.

The city's public system, Oskaloosa Community School District, operates a high school, middle school, elementary school, and an alternative school. Oskaloosa Elementary opened in January 2005, merging five smaller buildings scattered across the city. The building is the largest elementary school in Iowa.


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 Meskwaki 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.

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

Oskaloosa hosted the Iowa State Fair prior to the Civil War in 1858 and 1859.

In 1934, Oskaloosa became the first city in the United States to fingerprint all of its citizens, including children.

The city is mentioned in country and western singer Johnny Cash's song "I've been everywhere".

Municipal Band and Historic Bandstand

The first settlers in the area brought along their instruments and the universal, deep love of music. That led to the organization of a band in 1864. In 1880 the band was called the K. T. Band (for Knight Templars). It was about 1882 when a double-deck bandstand was erected in the center of the city park. The band started playing in the city park when it was just a field. The construction of a brick walk through the park was done with money obtained from a local talent minstrel show. In 1886 the K. T. Band went to St. Louis for their national conclave and was a tremendous hit. That marked the beginning of the band's prominence in the Midwest.

It was the genius of Charles L. Barnhouse that developed the band "atmosphere" from the time he came to Oskaloosa in 1891. He exerted a creative influence to build up a musical organization that would become the pride of the city. His band grew to statewide acclaim, becoming the official band of the Iowa State Fair for four years. In 1904 the band became even more well known when it played at the National K.P. encampment in Louisville, Kentucky, and stopped off en route, by invitation, to play at the World's Fair in St. Louis. In the ensuing years the band became popular throughout Iowa and other states.

In 1907 and 1908 Oskaloosa had two bands playing concerts – the Iowa Brigade Band and LaRue's Band. The merchants on High Avenue West employed their own band to compete with the Iowa Brigade Band in the park on Saturday evenings.

In 1911 the citizens decided to beautify the city and they voted to fund improvements for the city park. The citizens recommended that a new bandstand be erected in the center of the park. The old double deck frame bandstand was moved to one side to be used while the new bandstand was being built. The first concert in the new bandstand was played on June 1, 1912, and the bandstand was dedicated on July 25, 1912.

Notable people

  • Lisa Eagen, athlete and Olympian, 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, Team Handball[23]

See also


  1. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  4. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  5. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  6. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  7. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  9. The Explosion at Oskaloosa, New York Times, January 7, 1882.
  10. Iowa Geologic Survey Annual Report for 1908, 1909, Des Moines, page 556.
  11. Third Biennial Report of the State Mine Inspectors to the Governor of Iowa for the years 1886 and 1887, Roberts, Des Moines, 1888, page 87
  12. Seventh Biennial Report of the State Mine Inspectors to the Governor of the State of Iowa for the two years ending June 30, 1895, Conaway, Des Moines, 1895, page 50.
  13. Oskaloosa in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition.
  14. Frederick E. Saward, The Coal Trade, 1915, page 65.
  15. Albert H. Fay, Coal-Mine Fatalities in the United States 1870–1914, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Washington DC, 1916, page 190.
  16. Paul Garvin, Iowa's Minerals, Burr Oak Books, 1998, pages 198–199.
  17. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  18. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  19. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  20. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  21. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  22. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  23. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

External links