About Chester, Iowa

About Chester, Iowa

On the very northern most edge of the state, the Upper Iowa River traverses a picturesque landscape formed of high rocky bluffs and deep narrow limestone gorges. Clear, cold fast-running streams cut through steep-sided hills covered by oaks, hickory, maples, and basswood. Nestled quietly amongst all of natures beauty is the scenic town of Chester, Iowa.

Chester is just a few miles north of Hayden Prairie, the largest prairie area in the state of Iowa. It lies right on the border of Iowa and Minnesota. It is just 45 minutes south of Rochester, MN. There are all the perks of a small town in Chester... the smiling faces, where everyone knows everyone. There is also ample hunting around these parts. Chester offers convenience stores, auto services, a discount store, dining, Farmers Market on Thursdays, an indoor Roller Rink, and many other specialties that small towns have.

History of Chester

History of Chester

The small community of Chester is located within shouting distance of Minnesota along the Upper Iowa River. As early as 1854 people searching for new opportunities out West began entering the Chester area. A few of the early settlers to Chester included W.A. Kingsley, C.M. Sawyer, and Josiah Laws. The following year of 1855 saw land claims made by Artemus Eaton, Joseph Cray and many other families. It was not until the Spring of 1857 that these claims became legal property of the settlers through the great land sale.

As many other Howard County communities, the railroad was of great reasoning for settlement, growth, and expansion in the town. Along with the railroad came the incorporation of local businesses. Some of the early places of commerce included a bank, hotel, butcher shop, funeral home, barber shop, pool hall, grocery store, clothing store, and restaurant.

Like many river towns, the milling industry also erupted in Chester. The first mill was built around 1886 by Bidwell and Harding.

An asset to Chester community is the close location of Hayden Prairie. This area consists of 240 acres of original prairie that has never been plowed. the area is an attraction for various species of wildlife and a wide variety of wild flowers.

Attractions in Chester

Attractions in Chester

Hayden Prairie
Hayden Prairie State Preserve is 240 acres of tallgrass prairie, the largest in eastern Iowa, and managed by the DNR's Wildlife Bureau. This natural prairie is an attraction for a variety of wildlife, birds, and wildflowers.

Hayden Prairie is named after Dr. Ada Hayden, a former professor of botany at Iowa State University and a strong advocate of prairie preservation in Iowa. It is located near the towns of Lime Springs and Chester in northwest Howard County, about 5 miles south of the Minnesota border.

Hayden Prairie is one of Iowa's best prairie remnants. This 240-acre prairie, purchased in 1945 was the first prairie to be acquired by the state and in 1966 it was renamed a national registered landmark. Two years later Hayden Prairie was designated as a state preserve by the state of Iowa.