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History of Anamosa


What is now Anamosa was founded as the settlement of Buffalo Forks in 1838 and incorporated as Lexington in 1856. Lexington was a very popular name for towns at that time, so when Lexington chose to become incorporated as a city in 1877, the name was changed to Anamosa to avoid mail delivery confusion. There are many different stories on how Anamosa was chosen as a name, but all of them center around a local Native American girl named Anamosa, which means white fawn.  A Native American family passed through town in 1842. The family stayed at the Ford House. The little girl, named Anamosa, endeared herself to the townspeople and following the family's departure from town, local citizens decided to name their town after her.  Interestingly enough, a deaf man who ran, wrote for and edited the local newspaper (The Eureka) was the one who suggested the name Anamosa. His name was Edmund Booth and was a prominent leader in the national deaf community at the time. In Anamosa's early days, many important buildings such as the post office and the church, sat on the street which used to be land Booth owned. When Booth died in 1905, every store in town closed to mourn his death.

Legend of the name of the river that flows through Anamosa-Wapsipinicon: A Native American maiden and her lover threw themselves off a bluff overlooking the Wapsipinicon River. Legend has it that one was named Wapsi, the other Pinicon. Origins of this legend are unconfirmed.  

Wapsipinicon State Park is one of Iowa's oldest state parks, created in 1921. Located on the southwest end of Anamosa, the Wapsipinicon State Park offers camping, fishing, golf and hiking.  

The original site of Anamosa sits upon the junction of the Buffalo Creek with the Wapsipinicon River.  Riverside Cemetery, which is located across from the Wapsipinicon State Park, is the final resting place for the founding fathers Col. William Shaw and Edmund Booth.  

In 1983, the Anamosa Library was listed as one of three Eastern Iowa libraries entered in the National Register of Historic Places.  In November of 2004, the new Anamosa Library and Learning Center opened and the Anamosa Police Department moved into the former library building in May of 2005.

Anamosa was named as the Pumpkin Capital of Iowa by the Iowa State Legislature in 1993 and hosts Pumpkinfest, a pumpkin festival and weigh-off, every year in October.

Anamosa State Penitentiary

In 1872 the Anamosa Penitentiary was built.  The Penitentiary was built by inmates with stone from the quarries in Stone City and is listed on the National Historic Register.

Grant Wood

Grant Wood was born in February of 1892 in Anamosa, Iowa. During the summer of 1932, he established an art colony in Stone City, Iowa just 4 miles north of Anamosa. The aim of the original art colony was 'to join in working together toward the development of an indigenous expression. To this end, we do not strive for any particular formula or technique. We rather seek for a stimulating exchange of ideas, a cooperation of a variety of points of view.'  Riverside Cemetery, which is located across from the Wapsi State Park, is the final resting place for Famous American Artist, Grant Wood.