Fort Dodge, Iowa: 1850 to 1970 (Images of America Series)
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Fort Dodge, Iowa: 1850 to 1970 (Images of America Series)

by Roger B. Natte
     
 

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Fort Dodge was founded in 1850 as a military post to police the Iowa frontier. A subsequent land boom created fortunes that were reinvested in the local economy. The town soon earned the nickname "Mineral City" because of the extensive deposits of coal, gypsum, limestone, and clay. By 1900, the city was a rail center and the world's largest producer of gypsum

Overview


Fort Dodge was founded in 1850 as a military post to police the Iowa frontier. A subsequent land boom created fortunes that were reinvested in the local economy. The town soon earned the nickname "Mineral City" because of the extensive deposits of coal, gypsum, limestone, and clay. By 1900, the city was a rail center and the world's largest producer of gypsum products. With a highly diversified economy, the city prospered and by World War I was able to claim to have more skyscrapers per capita than any other city in the Midwest and beautiful public buildings designed by some of the nation's leading architects. Between 1900 and 1925, Fort Dodge enjoyed the role as an important political center and the home of two U.S. senators, the director of the U.S. Mint, the solicitor of the Department of the Treasury, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, and the first presidential press secretary and speechwriter. Sons and daughters of the community went on to establish national reputations in art, music, literature, science, and journalism. Images used in this volume come primarily from the archives of the Webster County Historical Society and were chosen to represent the changing character of the community from 1850 to 1970.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Publication: The Messenger

Article Title: Fort Dodge Remembered

Author: Bill Shea

Date: 10/25/08

Around Fort Dodge, Roger Natte is well-known for his knowledge of local history.

Some of that knowledge has been put into print in the form of two books that will debut this week.

One titled ''Fort Dodge 1850-1970'' will be available nationwide through Arcadia Publishing's Images of America Series.

The other, ''Picks, Shovels and Carbide Lamps: Coal Mining in Webster County'' will be available locally through the Webster County Historical Society.

Natte has contributed to other books, including the ''Dictionary of Iowa History,'' and articles that he's written have appeared in scholarly publications. But having two books printed at once is still a big achievement for him.

''It isn't new for me to have my things published,'' he said. ''Anytime you finish anything, it's a wonderful feeling.''

''Obviously when you have a larger publisher do it for you, it's pretty exciting,'' he added, referring to Arcadia.

''Fort Dodge 1850-1970'' is a 127-page collection of historic photos with captions. Natte said more than half of them have never been published before.

All of those photos were found among the 15,000 images owned by the Webster County Historical Society. Natte said he examined about 1,000 photos before picking the ones for the book.

Accompanying the photos are captions which Natte believes could serve as a brief history of Fort Dodge all by themselves.

''We wanted to tell a story about how the community developed rather than just have a collection of photos,'' he said.

The book's cover features a photo of John F. Kennedy in a Sept. 22, 1960, parade on Central Avenue when he was a Massachusetts senator running for president. Former Messenger photographer Fred Larson captured the image. Natte said he sent the publisher 10 to 15 potential cover shots and the JFK photo was selected.

''They picked it because it's someone everyone can identify with,'' he said.

The historian worked for about six months on the photo book.

Writing the coal mining book took a lot longer. In fact, it took so long that the first draft was written on an Apple II computer.

The last coal mine in the county stopped production in 1946, but Natte was able to interview some retired miners for the book.

''Mining is a good story,'' he said. ''You get everything from child labor to union activities to stories of rough coal towns.''

He believes there is a demand and a need for local history books.

''We really have such a rich history we ought to promote it,'' he said.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738561820
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
10/22/2008
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,184,876
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author


Roger B. Natte is a retired history professor at Iowa Central Community College and has long been active in state and local historical organizations. He currently is director of the local archives and author of a number of monographs on local history.

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