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The Fennimore County Fair


Soon after the county’s founding in 1853, the Fennimore County Agricultural Association would have organized and begun to scout sites for a fairground. Some sort of operation must have coalesced at Muskrat City until the courthouse moved to Agincourt. Muskrat City was established on lowland with ongoing flood issues; the town itself eventually faded from sight, with the exception of a store and post office, and that eventually closed during the Depression. All that remains today is one house and the foundation of the original bank.

I have some idea of the sequence of acquisition and evolution of the fairgrounds — the original quarter section became a wide triangle, reshaped by highway construction and a property swap — but only a vague notion of what buildings would have been built and in what order. Two things specific to the Fennimore situation: 1) the late 19th century Chautauqua Movement established a shed for their summer lecture circuit, and 2) after 1909, the Northwest Iowa Normal School developed a cooperative relationship and expanded their athletic facilities on the fairgrounds.

Hall of Philosophy, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY

Its location across the river also made an opportunity for the new city trolley line to build a spur for seasonal service to the grounds — and a permanent pedestrian bridge for the normal school students. The Muskrat isn’t quite as deep as the trestle required here, but it would also have been produced by the seat-of-the-pants engineering.

Just imagine the alcohol-induced encounters between students and this bridge before A.D.A.

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