Harlan, Iowa is a city steeped in history. Nestled in Shelby County, it has witnessed several important historical events that have shaped Iowa and the country as a whole. Here are seven of the most significant historical events that have taken place near Harlan.
1. The Founding of Harlan: Harlan, Iowa was founded in 1869 by Colonel William Harlan, a businessman from Indiana. The town was named after him and quickly became a center of commerce and agriculture in Shelby County.
2. The Great Flood of 1952: In July 1952, heavy rains caused the Nishnabotna River to overflow, resulting in one of the worst floods in Iowa history. Harlan was one of the towns affected by the flood, with many homes and businesses being damaged or destroyed.
3. Battle of Athens: In August 1861, a group of Confederate sympathizers in Athens, Missouri, crossed the border into Iowa and raided the town of Sidney. The local militia, which included men from Harlan, responded and engaged in a battle that resulted in the death of several Confederate soldiers.
4. American Gothic House: The American Gothic House is a famous landmark in Eldon, Iowa, located about an hour's drive from Harlan. The house, known for its distinctive Gothic window, was the inspiration for the famous painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood.
5. The Lincoln Highway: The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway in the United States, stretching from New York City to San Francisco. It passed through Iowa, including Shelby County and Harlan, and helped to connect the country.
6. The Maquoketa Caves Massacre: In September 1868, a group of Paiute Indians from Nevada were captured and brought to Iowa to be exhibited at fairs and carnivals. While in captivity, they were subjected to abuse and neglect, and some of them died. In revenge, a group of Paiutes attacked a wagon train near Maquoketa Caves, killing several people, including a woman from Harlan.
7. The Farmer's Holiday Association: The Farmer's Holiday Association was a populist movement that emerged in the 1930s in response to the economic hardships faced by farmers during the Great Depression. One of the leaders of the movement was Milo Reno, a farmer from Harlan. The organization called for a boycott of the grain market and organized protests and strikes to demand fair prices for farmers.
In conclusion, Harlan, Iowa has witnessed several significant historical events that have had an impact on Iowa and the country. From the founding of the town itself to the battles fought there and the populist movements that emerged, Harlan has played a role in shaping the history of the United States.
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