About Cresco

About Cresco

Cresco is the largest town in Howard County. The population is just under 4,000. It has just about everything you need and then some. Cresco is home to Featherlite Trailers, the nation's leading provider of aluminum livestock, horse, and utility trailers. It is also the home of Bethany Housewares, a long established company with an international reputation. Donaldson Company, Inc., a multinational company, has its star-ship plant in Cresco. That is just part of the existing industry.

The educational system in Cresco is one of pride for the entire area with public and private systems provided. Cresco is the home to a Northeast Iowa Community College center. The Cresco Center is a valuable option for people of all ages who want to take college courses close to home.

Cresco has been described as one of the prettiest small towns in the Midwest and it is apparent from the outset that the people of Cresco care about their homes, their businesses, and their neighbors. In Cresco, you can walk down the Maple covered streets in safety, enjoying your neighbors, relaxing at one of the city's numerous parks, shopping in the convenient business district, or attending the church of your choice.

Cresco is also known all over for having excellent snowmobile trails. Every year, many out-of-towners arrive for the annual SnowFest. There is also an annual Norman Borlaug Harvest Fest which draws a great number of people as well. It is a weekend celebration in September that includes Inspire Day at the Borlaug farm, parades, sports events, quilt auction, car show, and many other activities.

You can be as busy as you want to be in Cresco with more than 40 clubs and organizations providing a wide range of activities and fellowship.

Or you can relax quietly, and enjoy the good life!
Proud Member of the Cresco Area Chamber of Commerce and we accept Cresco Chamber Dollars.

link to Cresco Area Chamber of Commerce
link to City of Cresco

History of Cresco

History of Cresco

Although Cresco quickly became the largest town in the county, it took several years for it to be recognized as the county seat. Before Cresco was founded, a heated disagreement arose as New Oregon, Vernon Springs and Howard Center all pitched to be the county seat. In a compromise, a courthouse was built about half way between New Oregon and Vernon Springs, but it was constructed of basswood and after a few years it was not usable. Court was then moved into private homes in the area, and that was the status when Cresco was founded.

Cresco naturally wanted to be the county seat and the necessary paperwork was completed and the vote was held. Almost unbelievably, the voters turned down Cresco as the county seat, preferring the site of the original courthouse.

But the board of supervisors used the Iowa rule that communities has jurisdiction within two miles of their city limits, thus enabling the supervisors to move the courthouse location from the Vernon Springs/New Oregon site to Cresco.

The first courthouse was made of wood and was located in the center of town on a city block donated by the city of Cresco. It was destroyed by fire in 1876. A brick courthouse was constructed in 1879 and opened on January 1, 1880. That same building continues to be used today, although a number of additions have expanded it. The jail and attached sheriff's home were built in 1882 and continue to serve today. A new Law Enforcement Center was added in the early 1980s, serving the sheriff and Cresco police departments and housing a joint dispatch center.

Attractions in Cresco

Attractions in Cresco

Attractions in Cresco and Howard County focus on recreation, indoor and outdoor, museums and other attractions.

The Cresco Fitness Center is a facility where many come to use the exercise equipment, the large indoor pool, and the large gymnasium. Outdoor activities include hiking and biking in the summer on the recreational trails, and snowmobiling and skiing during the winter months.

The Cresco Opera House which has recently been renovated, once hosted traveling music shows and theatrical performances. It is now used as the Cresco Theatre and also holds community plays and performances.

The Kellow house was built in 1880 William Kellow and was acquired by the Historical Society in 1969. The house is of Second Empire design. William Kellow Sr., a farmer and stonemason, quarried the stone and built the foundation for his son's home. Window sills are white cut stone and trim above the window is ornamental wood brackets. The roof was designed by a French Architect. The Historical Society has restored the interior, but made no structural changes. It is furnished in the period of the late 1800's and early 1900's with several of the furnishings being Kellow family heirlooms.

Cresco's most recent addition to the community was the Prairie's Edge Nature Center at Vernon Springs. The Nature Center is managed by the Howard County Conservation and Naturalist. They have a wide selection of programs from insects and trees to wildflowers.