Iowa is known for its agricultural production, but did you know that it was once a major producer of coal? In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Iowa had more than 200 coal mines, and coal was the state's leading industry.
Wayne County, located in south-central Iowa, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Sac and Fox tribes, who used the land for hunting and gathering purposes. The county was later explored by French and Spanish explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries, but it wasn't until the early 19th century that European settlers began to establish permanent communities.

In 1846, Wayne County was officially founded and named in honor of General Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War hero. The county's first town, Corydon, was established as the county seat, and it quickly grew as more settlers arrived in the area. These early settlers primarily engaged in farming and agriculture, taking advantage of the fertile soil and suitable climate for crops like corn and soybeans.

The mid-19th century brought significant changes to Wayne County with the arrival of the railroad. The construction of the Des Moines Valley Railroad in the late 1860s connected the county to larger markets and led to the growth of more towns along the rail line. This development enhanced the county's agricultural and economic prospects, as farmers could transport their goods more efficiently.

Throughout the 20th century, Wayne County continued to evolve, adapting to changes in agriculture and the economy. Mechanization and technological advancements in farming practices transformed the landscape and increased productivity. The county also experienced periods of economic boom and decline, closely tied to shifts in the agricultural sector and national economic trends.

Today, Wayne County remains an important agricultural area. The county's towns, like Corydon and Humeston, serve as centers for commerce and community gatherings. With its history deeply rooted in farming and the pioneers who settled the area, Wayne County showcases a unique blend of traditional values and a modern way of life.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Wayne County, Iowa.

  • 1846 - Wayne County is established by the Iowa Legislature.
  • 1849 - A post office is established in Wayne County.
  • 1851 - The first courthouse in Wayne County is built in Centerville.
  • 1875 - The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad is completed through Wayne County.
  • 1881 - The town of Corydon is incorporated in Wayne County.
  • 1916 - The American State Bank is established in Corydon.
  • 1933 - The Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructs the Wayne County Courthouse.
  • 1992 - The Wayne County Historical Museum is opened in Corydon.
  • 2008 - The Red Haw State Park is established in Wayne County.