Guthrie County History

Guthrie County was originally part of old Keokuk County, which was comprised of approximately the western two-thirds of the state of Iowa. Later Keokuk County was organized with its present boundaries and Guthrie County was then part of a vast unorganized region until legislation divided the region into counties, one of which was Guthrie, in 1851. Guthrie county was named for Captain William Guthrie, formerly of Keokuk, who was the captain of the only company Iowa sent to the Mexican War. Captain Guthrie was mortally wounded in battle.

 

The first county seat was Panora but that would not last long.  The fight for the county seat lasted for 14 years (1859-1873) between Panora and Guthrie Center.  In the end, Guthrie Center prevailed with the votes and the construction of the first brick courthouse in Guthrie Center started in 1877 for an estimated cost of $30,000.

 

Guthrie County was the first county in the State of Iowa to comply with legislation requiring a county high school to be located in each county.  The county high school was located in Panora.  The Guthrie County High School was organized in 1876 and remained a respected institute of learning until a special election vote in 1930 abolished the county school.

 

The first mill in the state that was located west of Des Moines was constructed by John Anderson in 1852.  The mill was located on the Raccoon River one and one-quarter miles northwest of Panora.  The mill would later be called the Hanyan-Beamon Mill.  Customers came to the mill from as far west as Council Bluffs.  Some drove as far as two hundred miles, arriving as early as two o'clock in the morning, and often remained for several days.

 

The first railroad to be built in Guthrie County was the "narrow gauge" railroad, which was owned by Fredrick M. Hubbell of Des Moines and ran under the name of "Des Moines and Northwestern Railroad." It was the longest stretch of narrow gauge in the state of Iowa -- running from Des Moines, through Panora, to Fonda, Iowa, totaling 113.8 miles.  Later, the railroad became part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad (CMStP&P RR). The route of the old track is now the Raccoon River Valley Recreational Trail.

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

Established

 1851

 

First County Seat

  Panora

 

First Town Established

  Panora—1851

 

First Permanent White Settler

  Benjamin Kunkle

 

First Birth of Settler

     Malinda Jane Kunkle—1849

 

First Marriage of Settlers

  George Messinger & Lucinda

  Casteel, 1852

 

First Death of Settler

  Mr. McCullough—1850

 

Historical Attractions

  Guthrie County Historical Village

 

  Historic Saints Center

 

  Site of Bonnie & Clyde Bank Robbery

 

  Site of Jesse James Train Robbery

 

  White Pole Road

 

  Mormon Handcart Trail

 

  Newton Stagecoach Trail

 

  Greenwood Cemetery & Prairie

 

  Ghost Towns

 

Guthrie County Tourism Council 

206 W South St.  Panora, IA  50216

© 2020 GC Tourism

Proudly created with Wix.com

p  641.755.2989

e  info@discoverguthriecounty.org