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Natural Resources Commission Tours Iowa’s Only Original Fort

FORT ATKINSON, Iowa- The Fort Atkinson State Preserve got a visit from the members of the Iowa Natural Resources Commission, as well as a number of staff members from the Department of Natural Resources. The Commission often visits DNR- run facilities while heading to a monthly meeting. In June the Commission meets at Luther College in nearby Decorah.

The Fort was built in 1840 six years before Iowa became a state.

“This is the only Fort remaining in Iowa that was built before statehood,” said Jeff Hildebrand, who runs the Volga Recreation Area, along with Ft. Atkinson. “The original structures, the canon house, in the south west corner, and the magazine bunker over there and the North Barricks are all origninal structures.”

The Fort was built by the US Government to help calm tensions among indian tribes in the region.

“The treaty of 1825 established a neutral line just to keep the Sioux, and Sauk and Fox, from battling because there was an on-going feud between them,” said Hildebrand. “Just the history of the Fort is amazing, not so much because there were no battles fought here, there were no skirmishes. but just what was going on with in the country the time that this is operating.”

“I am very very impressed with the Fort Atkinson area and with the Fort, and the amount of wonderful community support that we see here,” said Margo Underwood, of Clear Lake, who serves as Chair of the Natural Resources Commission. “We try to take four tours a year and really get out and see some of the different areas where we have projects and different activities going on.”

The Fort gates are open 6am to 10:30 at night. There is a museum located in the barracks building. It contains artifacts used at the Fort. It also has maps showing the Iowa Territory. The Museum is only open by appointment.

If you would like more information on the Fort Atkinson State Preserve, click here.