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Sturm und Drang

An excerpt from the 1938 Federal Writers Project volume, Iowa: a Guide to the Hawkeye State:

[At Fahnstock turn left off State Highway 7 onto County Road 7A and drive six miles to the rural community of Resort (population about 50; 1228 feet above sea level).]

As County Road 7A leaves Fahnstock, the relative flatness of the Muskrat Valley shifts subtly into rolling countryside and within two or three miles we are in the picturesque Lake District of western Fennimore County.

Receding glaciers from the last Ice Age left a few minor bodies of water, but the principal lakes are Sturm and Drang. At low water, a sandbar nearly divides them in two; when water levels are normal or high it is easy to motor between them and they become Sturm und Drang, a temperamental spring-fed lake whose surface can change from placid to turbulent in minutes.

Just thirteen miles west of Agincourt, Sturm und Drang became a place of resort as early as the 1880s, when isolated cabins sprang up along its eastern shores. Fishing was good and the hunting of seasonal waterfowl supplemented the 19th-century diet. Post-Civil War leisure pursuits popularized the lakes for other activities.

Found on eBay

The first to take financial advantage may have been Smith’s Hotel, built in 1890 on Sturm’s east shore about a quarter mile from the Station-Store, a country emporium and rural post office. Moody’s Resort followed in about 1910, and finally Bagby’s or The Last resort on the west side of Lake Drang completed the group in the late ’20s. All are still in operation today.

The volume of summer residents encouraged Northwest Iowa Traction to extend a spur line in 1910 from Fahnstock to the Station-Store, which also provides motor launch access to distant points on the lakes. From the 1920s an artist colony has flourished and holds an annual exhibit in Agincourt.

[Return to Fahnstock on County Road 7A and turn left toward Storm Lake.]

The WPA Federal Writers Project produced a number of statewide guidebooks, many of them of exceptional quality and usefulness. Others, not so much. Each, however, has a literary style and that is what I’m trying here to match, with moderate success, so it will require a good deal of tweaking. 


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