In 1839 the town of Bentonsport was platted. It became a bustling steamboat town situated on the Des Moines River and provided transportation for people and goods. Bentonsport was the site of the first paper mill in Iowa as well as grist, saw, linseed oil and woolen mills. The approximately 1,000 residents depended on the mills to process their crops, on the river for shipping, and on the local stores to obtain the goods they could not make. It became a stop on the Des Moines Valley Railroad, which helped bring settlers and pioneers west in the 1800s.
As the river traffic slowed down due to locks and dams being shut down, and the railroad extended its reach along with a shift in the economy of the area, Bentonsport gradually declined in the later 1800s.
Today, this village is home to about 40 residents with several of the buildings housing a variety of shops. In addition, some buildings have been added to enhance the village and provide arts, crafts and historical artifacts. The Vernon School House, Wendell Mohr?s former home and studio, is across the river in Vernon, once known as South Bentonsport. The iron truss bridge is one of the oldest iron wagon bridges remaining on the Des Moines River: currently enjoyed by visitors as a pedestrian bridge.
On Saturday, Sept. 1, the heritage of this historic village, which was named a National Historic District in 1972, will be celebrated with shopkeepers in period dress as well as a home-cooked meal with live music from 11 a.m. ? 12:30 p.m. (free-will offering), artist demonstrations from 1? 3 p.m. (weather permitting), shared history and refreshments at the Mason House Inn from 1 ? 4 p.m., and tours of the Vernon School House from 1 ? 4 p.m.
For more information call Pam at: 319-293-3749 or visit www.greefstore.com.