the history

History of Belle Plaine

The City of Belle Plaine, population 2534 is located in the Southwest corner of Benton County approximately 2 miles north of the Iowa River. The name “Belle Plaine” is said to mean “Belle of the Prairie” or Beautiful Plain” and was chosen at the same time the railroad came.  The land consisted of high prairie grass with the only wooded area along the rivers and creeks. Deer and wildfowl were plentiful and the streams a fisherman’s paradise. Today hunting and fishing are still enjoyed and trees are bountiful throughout the entire city.

In 1856 the first post office was established after eight families came from Tennessee to join the original seven families.

Mr. and Mrs. William White came to Belle Plaine in 1861 and built the first frame house, first store building on Main Street and built the first bridge across the Iowa River.

In 1864 the town grew rapidly and its solidity was established. The years from 1862 to 1872 brought settlement of the prairie, permanent establishment of the town, and the beginnings of commerce and culture.

Two events are special in the history of Belle Plaine.

In 1886 a well being drilled sprang water up 53 feet in the air causing what is now known as “Jumbo Well.” It took 14 months to harness the well.

In 1894 a great fire occurred destroying almost 5 solid blocks of businesses (approx. 80 businesses).

In the 1920’s the “Lincoln Highway” came through Belle Plaine. This was the first transcontinental highway and brought many travelers through the town.

Today Belle Plaine has continued to grow. We have major manufacturers and employers whom make up a sizable workforce.  Our schools are not consolidated and consist of Longfellow Elementary and the Belle Plaine High School & Junior HIgh. Kirkwood Community College has a campus here and our Community Library is one of the finest in the area.

In addition the city has 5 parks including an Aquatic Facility, ball diamonds, basketball court, tennis courts, volleyball, disc golf, park shelters, camping pads with electricity and new playground equipment.  We also have a movie theatre, a 9 hole golf course and airport.

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