1884-1885 Iowa State History

“This sketch is intended principally as a pen-picture of Sac County as it now is, and will include a short outline of its history and a few incidents of the life of the early settlers.

“The soil of Sac County is a deep black loam, and in its nature is purely a vegetable decomposition. Its depth is from eighteen inches to five or six feet. In some parts of the county the surface is almost perfectly level for long distances, but in general it is of the genuine ‘rolling prairie’ description. The inexhaustibility of the soil is shown by the fact that farms which have been under cultivation for from twenty to twenty-five years are now as fertile and productive as ever. More than that-the land may be plowed here when it is so wet that it is almost impossible to do work and it will never bake.

“As regards the productiveness of Sac County, perhaps as effective a way of showing whether the detractors of Northwestern Iowa, mentioned in Governor Campbell’s letter, are right or wrong, will be to give to our readers the benefit of some of the observations of the Hon. Eugene Criss, pioneer and resident of Sac County for more than a quarter of a century. Judge Criss says that his average yield of corn in his twenty-five years’ residence has been from forty to fifty bushels to the acre, and the highest yield he has ever had was sixty-five bushels. Average yield of oats, forty to fifty; highest yield, seventy-six bushels. Average yield of wheat, fifteen to eighteen; highest yield, thirty bushels. This is his personal experience, and with fair cultivation only no fancy farming; that he knows of at least two of his neighbors who have raised as high as forty bushels of wheat to the acre. Others, too, have raised, in more than one neighborhood in the county, from seventy to eight bushels of com per acre, and, it is said, without more than ordinary tillage. The principal agricultural products of Sac County and this section generally are com, wheat, oats, flax, barley, rye and grass. Timothy, clover and blue grass grow readily and will make Sac, at an early day, one of the leading stock and dairy counties of Iowa. And Iowa is, with rapid strides, coming to the head of all the States in dairy products. We will put Judge Criss on the stand again in regard to the advantages for stock raising.

“We have stated that the tame grasses grow rapidly. Besides that fact, it is also true that the Kentucky blue grass is rapidly coming ‘of itself in places where it has never been sown. Along fences, along paths made by cattle through the brush and in pastures, in spots where the timber and underbrush have been cleared, in door-yards and other places, in some mysterious way that sweetest and best of feed for stock is making its appearance. It is a matter which the present writer does not understand, but it is a good thing, and we are glad to see that this section is so fortunate. Grass is always sufficiently high to turnout stock at a date varying in the different years from April 1st to April 30th. And now we produce Judge Criss’s testimony. The Judge is a Virginian by birth, but has had some years experience in the two States, it is his firm belief that both cattle and horses do better ‘running out’ during the winter months in this part of Iowa than they do in Maryland. This, our readers will observe, is not guess work or the dictum of a traveler or chance observer, but the carefully considered verdict of experience.

The location of Sac County is on the Great Divide, as the watershed between the Missouri and the Mississippi is called. It is in the west northwestern part of the State, the sixth from the southern, the third from the Missouri River, and the tenth from the Mississippi. Sac City, the center of the government, and not far geographical center, is about fifty miles by wagon road west from Fort Dodge and abut eighty-five miles’ east of Sioux City.

Sac County’s only railway communication with the busy world outside is by means of branches of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. These branches are the Maple River Railroad and the Sac City & Wall Lake Railroad. The former has two stations in the County, Odebolt and Wall Lake. The latter has, as yet, no other stations than it termini, Sac City and Wall Lake, which are twelve miles apart. Another station is now being put in which will be better entitled to the latter name than the town which now bears it, being situated on the shores of the Lake, while the present station at Wall Lake is some four miles distant. It seems to us that the present town will be obliged, in honor, to resign its name in favor of the baby town not yet christened. Sac City is situated twenty-eight and eight-tenths miles from Maple River Junction, on the main line (Chicago & Council Bluffs) of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, and just thirty-three miles from Carroll, the nearest town of any consequence in direct railway communication. Both these branches have been built within the past three years, and a large part of the present.

[The additional station on the Sac City & Wall Lake Railroad was eventually christened Fletcher. An account of it will be found in the proper place.]

Sac County Iowa, History of Western Iowa, 1882

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