City of 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!

Cresco City Hall

    Michelle Girolamo, City Clerk


130 N Park Pl, Cresco, IA 52136

Visit Us

Enjoy Cresco, IA

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

Outdoor activities include hiking and biking in the summer on the recreational trails, and snowmobiling and skiing during the winter months.

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.

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