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Tour of Dows Street Historic District

I. THE TIMBER, THE CREEK & THE ROAD

Near Ely

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NEXT –The Railroad and the Town

How did the town of Ely happen to grow on this particular spot in Linn County? Historians tell us that early settlement in our part of the Territory of Iowa typically concentrated at prairie/forest margins where there was a variety of natural resources. On the west edge of Ely you will see a creek which was once surrounded by timber. In 1838 it attracted a small group of immigrants, most of whom were from Indiana. They named the timber, not surprisingly, Hoosier Grove and the creek, Hoosier's Creek.

A country scene near Ely

As more settlers moved into the area, a trail between the settlements of Cedar Rapids, Solon and Iowa City developed along the line of our present north/south artery, State Street. It became a stage line road and, in the 1850's, a post road. Iowa became a state in 1846, most of the surrounding prairie was converted to farmland by 1859, and pressure was building for the establishment of a trading center to supply domestic needs and a market for produce.