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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 18, 2017

History program to focus on Des Moines River

Feb 26, 2013
LEDGER ARCHIVE PHOTO SUBMITTED Linda Durflinger and Jessica Strom, members of the Eldon Historic Preservation Commission, stand in front of the Lockkeeper’s House near Eldon in 2010. The house was part of the navigation system built on the Des Moines River.

BONAPARTE — Historian Rick Woten will present a tale of public controversy, litigation and political bickering at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bonaparte Opera House.

The program is the second in a series of talks on the history of the Des Moines River in southeast Iowa.

The March program follows the history of a project to build a navigation system on the Des Moines River from the Mississippi River to the convergence with the Raccoon River in Des Moines. Saddled by controversies arising from an ambiguous land grant, adversarial titles and the arrival of railroads, the ideal of a navigable Des Moines River serving as a great thoroughfare for the transportation of Midwestern produce was never realized. However, construction was begun and traces of the project are still evident, including the Lockkeeper’s House just south of Eldon on Old Iowaville Road in the northeast corner of Davis County along the Des Moines River. The Lockkeeper’s House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, was built for the lockkeeper who would raise and lower the water in the lock for steamboats on the Des Moines River. It has two doors so the lockkeeper could use one for business, while the other was a family entrance into the home. Woten, William Penn University faculty and curriculum coordinator, is an avid researcher, scholar, lecturer and public speaker on Iowa and rural history. He researched the Des Moines River Improvement Project extensively for his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.

The History on the River programs are co-sponsored by Pathfinders RC&D and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Preregistration is requested at www.DesMoinesRiverWT.com or 472-6177.

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