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Algona, Iowa

Algona is a city in and the county seat of Kossuth County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,741 at the 2000 census. Ambrose A. Call State Park is located two miles southwest of the city.



Algona was founded in 1854 by two brothers, Ambrose and Asa Call, who named the city after the native word for "Algonquin waters".

Between 1869 and 1875 the community was the location of Algona College, an institution sponsored by the Methodist Church.

In 1894, Algona, along with other Iowa communities such as Dysart and Wesley, became part of the project known as the "Orphan Trains". As New York City saw booming immigration, it also inevitably saw a rise in the number of orphans in its asylums. Unable to provide adequate care for them, it saw fit to ship nearly 100,000 westward to start a new life with families across America. Algona itself welcomed nearly 100 orphans into the town, many of whom remained lifelong residents.

From 1902 to 1903, Algona played host to the Algona Brownies, a Negro League barnstorming team. Despite winning the league title in 1903, the team disbanded that same year.

The Henry Adams Building, designed by Louis Sullivan in 1913 is located at the northwest corner of East State and Moore streets. Although not designed to be a bank, the building is nonetheless considered to be one of Sullivan's "Jewell Boxes," a series of banks built in the Midwest from 1909 through 1919.

Algona was the site of a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. From 1943 to 1946 Camp Algona housed nearly 10,000 prisoners, many of whom were put to work on farms owned by Americans who were fighting overseas. A museum now commemorates the camp's history and features a nativity scene built by the POWs.[1]

A destructive F3 tornado killed two people and destroyed a large part of Algona on June 28, 1979 about 7:15 PM. The tornado moved in a south-southeast direction through Algona. Severe damage was done to the central business district and a number of homes were rendered uninhabitable. Near F4 damage was reported in some locations.[2] There was about 15 minutes warning and the tornado sirens were sounded well before the arrival of the tornado. The fact that it was still daylight also contributed to the relatively low death count from this destructive storm.

In 2003, Algona drew national attention when it announced the purchase of the world's largest Cheeto. It was meant as a plan to bring tourism to the town to see the Cheeto by a local radio DJ.[3]


Algona is located at (43.070274, -94.229726) along the East Fork Des Moines River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and (0.44%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 5,741 people, 2,434 households, and 1,550 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,279.4 people per square mile (493.7/km ). There were 2,640 housing units at an average density of 588.3 per square mile (227.0/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 98.38% White, 0.09% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.24% from other races, and 0.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.71% of the population.

There were 2,434 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 32.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 24.1% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 21.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,207, and the median income for a family was $41,210. Males had a median income of $31,504 versus $20,667 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,979. About 7.9% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.


There are two school systems in Algona. The Algona Community School District oversees the public school system. Algona High School has students from Algona Middle School, as well as open-enrolled students from several nearby towns. The public elementary schools in Algona are Lucia Wallace Elementary, Bryant Elementary, and Bertha Godfrey Elementary School. The Catholic school system is made up of Bishop Garrigan High School(named after the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City) and Seton Elementary (named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

Notable people

  • Paul Bell - politician
  • Dick Dale former singer on the Lawrence Welk show
  • Lester Dickinson U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Iowa
  • Denis Menke Major League baseball player and coach
  • Brad Nelson Minor League baseball player
  • J.L. Wilkinson - Owner of Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League


External links

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