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Iowa History Daily: March 27 - Founding Fort Dodge

Iowa History Daily: On March 27, 1854, Major William Williams started to survey and lay out the city of Fort Dodge. When the military left town, Williams purchased the fort site, officially incorporated the town in 1869, and also served as the first mayor.

The fort itself represented a major westward shift for the American military in Iowa. Following the decommissioning of Second Fort Des Moines (1846) and Fort Atkinson (1849), the United States needed an installation as American settlement stretched into the northwestern part of the state. The 1835 expedition of the 1st United States Dragoons under Stephen Kearny identified the site as a potential prime spot for a fort during their journey up the Des Moines.

In 1850, Company E, 6th Infantry received marching orders at Fort Snelling to erect a fort at the confluence of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek, near the large summer village of the Wahpekute Dakota leader Sintominiduta. The fort, originally named Fort Clarke, changed to Fort Dodge to avoid confusion with another Fort Clarke in Texas. Although the fort didn’t see much military action during a brief existence, it was the site of many interactions between Indigenous peoples and the first American residents of the area.

Today, a plaque offers interpretation at the original fort site located in the downtown of the Webster County city of roughly 25,000. Visitors hoping to gain a sense of the fort’s geographic location can visit the Fort Dodge Public Library, which stands on the former parade grounds. To gain a feel for the fort itself and dive deeper into the history, visitors can stop at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village located west of the original fort site across the Des Moines River. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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