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State Park Series - Twin Lakes State Park

Located between Rockwell City and Pomeroy in Calhoun County, a 15-acre State Park nestled alongside the 453-acre North Twin Lake holds natural and historic treasures.

Come along with Notes on Iowa as we explore Twin Lakes State Park.

Although not one of Iowa’s largest state parks, Twin Lakes stands as one of the oldest with a history stretching well into the distant past. The ‘twin lakes’ which find separation by a narrow strip of land between 500 and 1,000 feet wide ranged from five to six feet at the park’s founding. The glacially formed lakes lack any streams running into them, making the bodies of water unique from many others. Instead, springs feed the lakes and rain pools to continuously refresh the lakes.

A major waterfowl nesting site dating to a time before American settlement of the area, the Ioway, Dakota, Sauk, and Meskwaki peoples all hunted on the lakes at different points in time. Archeological evidence at the site also suggests an even deeper past to the parks location, and careful observers can identify many remaining but unmarked mound sites at the park. The indentations tie back before the historical record, and demonstrate humans occupation of the site stretching back thousands of years to the retreat of the last glaciers to cover the area.

The site of the park also gained popularity during the late-1800s as a popular place for swimming. Known initially as ‘Sandy Point’ and owned by a local man named “Ramsey” the park came into the public domain through the tireless efforts of local citizens including Senator Perry C. Holdoegel.

An influential politician in the passing of the 1917 Iowa State Park Act, Holdoegel proved dogged in pressuring the state to create a state park in the Twin Lakes area of his home district. Appearing before the State Board of Conservation repeatedly over the early 1920s, Holdoegel eventually influenced the board to pursue a land purchase. When initial overtures failed, the state went to the extreme of condemning ‘Ramsey’s’ property at Sandy Point in 1923.

The fifteen acres of condemned land contained the 500 feet of shoreline familiar to visitors today. The following year an additional shoreline stretch known now as the West Area added to state held beachfront opportunities for Iowans at Twin Lakes. Lois Pammel designed the initial plans for the park, and handed them over to Calhoun County.

With the lands in hand, little development followed aside from general maintenance and tree planting over the park’s first decade in state control. The state named A.L. Ruseley as custodian for the park in 1924. In 1934, Civilian Conservation Corps Camp 1757 came to the area for work on Dolliver State Park near Fort Dodge. Also on the to-do-list of the CCC were improvements at Twin Lakes including a large stone-and-log shelter house, shoreline work, and other small improvements for the park.

Today, Twin Lakes State Park offers visitors a chance to marvel at the still standing CCC-era stone shelter, picnic areas, shoreline access, two beaches, and playground equipment. Although no boat access is provided at the park, anglers often test the water for bluegill, crappie, and walleye. The state operates two boat ramps outside of the park on the south shore of North Twin Lake. A new seven mile multi-purpose paved trail runs through the park on its way to encircling North Twin Lake.

Next time you find yourself looking to get out and enjoy Iowa’s public lands, consider a stop at Twin Lakes State Park. A truly stunning representation of Iowa’s natural beauty and a testament to the necessity of maintaining opportunities to get outdoors for all Iowans, Twin Lakes State Park shines as a must visit for all people hoping to see Iowa Slowly.

Thanks for coming along with notes on Iowa to explore Twin Lakes State Park.

Make sure to subscribe to the Notes on Iowa website, subscribe on YouTube, follow on social media, and tune in each Sunday to explore the history of Iowa’s state parks, preserves, and other public lands.

I hope I’ll see you out there!

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