WELCOME
TO
Coalville, Iowa

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There are People all over the country that grew up in Coalville, but very few know about our little community. On the next few pages you will be able to learn and experience some of the "FUN" things we remember from growing up in Coalville, Iowa.

Coalville is a typical country town in Iowa and is situated in a good farming area. Webster County is known for its fertile soil. But our early settlers that came to this little community came for one purpose, and that was for the COAL that could be mined. The town originated in 1859 although it was never incorporated because of the Coal Mining, it was named Coalville, Iowa. In the late 1800's Coalville was a bustling little village boasting of a general store, a butcher shop, a pool hall, a bowery, several taverns, a school and three churches. Because of the coal that was being mined in the area Coalville had a real boom in population. Miners came to work the mines and the population grew from 529 in the year 1890 and it went to 870 in the year 1900. Our little comunity is 7 miles south-east of Fort Dodge, Iowa off the new # 20 Highway. The Coalville Grocery is a great place for people to stop in, meet and eat. Take a little trip out to Coalville, stop in at the grocery, fill up your gas tank and meet some of the nice people that live in Coalville. Hey... and while you are there, buy a RAFFLE TICKET to help support the Otho/Kalo/Coalville Scholarship Fund!!
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This page is created for the purpose of bringing this little community to the attention of those who grew up in Coalville, Iowa. "Just like our Family!" So, if you remember... TOYLAND,... THE COALVILLE COOLIES, ...WILDCAT CAVE,...THE OLD COALVILLE GROCERY, ...COALVILLE SCHOOL . In time more things will be added and you are invited to share your memories. Send your email and we'll try to include your memories too! Thank you.
youngjer@wccta.net, timnan@dodgenet.com, lalbrght@wccta.net
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The 1870's Villages and Coalville


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Gypsum was located at the junction of the Illinois Central and the Lehigh branch of the Chicago and Great Western Railroads. The village consisted of a few houses, a depot, a school house and a general store. Its importance was due to the fact of its being a transfer station between the two railroads. Its nearness to the gypsum mills and coal mines made it a heavy shipping point. The station was formally called Carbon Junction, and the "Y". This little village no longer exists today.

Click on the words that are highlighted in blue and it will link you to this information.[Roger Natte, a local Fort Dodge Historian has been researching and compiling information on a piece he has prepared on Coal Mining in Webster County. Roger contributed some of this information to the Coalville homepage. A good share of mining in Webster County focuses on mining in the Pleasant Valley Township area. A special thank you to Roger for this information.]

The Village of Coalville grew with the mining of COAL and Gypsum Rock and was considerable of a town at the peak of the coalmining business. Silas Corey laid out the town in the early 1870's. The streets were all 50 feet wide except for Railroad Street and Division Street which were 30 feet wide and ran along the Railroad right-of-way and along the north boundary Line part of the way. The streets running North and South and starting with Railroad Street, now a blacktop, are called First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth. Starting at the north end of the town, the streets running east and west are called Division, Hayes, Dolliver, Cleveland, Boies, Frankling, Hoyt and Garfield.

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In the late 1800's Coalville was a bustling little village of a general store, a butcher shop, a pool hall, a bowery, several taverns, a school and three churches. Population grew from 529 in the year 1890 to 870 in the year 1900. After this time there were no actual saloons left in Coalville, however a man who ran the Post Office, brought kegs of beer from Fort Dodge and sold mugs of beer in the back room. Coalville had no formal law enforcement so any disturbances, which were very rare, were handled by a Justice of Peace from Fort Dodge. According to quotes from past residents written: "After ten hours in a coal mine, you're just too tired to raise any HELL."

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The Fort Dodge COAL Company, owned by two men named Craig and Dawson, controlled Coalville in its peak coal production years. At this time Coalville was a company town numbering about two hundred people, with the general store and many of the house owned by the Coal Company. The coal miners worked ten hours a day, six days a week, for about forty cents an hour. At that time there were no child labor laws and ten or twelve years old was a common age to start working in the mines. Most of the wages paid to the miners was in the form of script money as it was called. Script money was a written IOU issued by the coal company which could be redeemed at the general store or used for paying rent for company owned housing. The Great Western Railroad was the source of transportation for all coal marketed. During the peak mining years about ten full flat cars loaded with thirty tons of coal a piece left Coalville each day. Some of the coal went to Fort Dodge, which at that time ran primarily on Coal. Also coal was marketed to the Blanden and Crawford Gypsum mills which were then in small-scale operation in the area. The remaining coal was marketed to other Iowa communities. In 1915 the main deposits of coal had been mined out. In 1916 the railroad was forced to leave Coalville, because there wasn't enough business left to support it. With no way to market the remaining coal it then became necessary for the Fort Dodge Coal Company to go out of business. The residents in and around Coalville walked or rode in horse drawn buggies to Gypsum Station (which was where the Chicago Great Western acquired the Mason City and Fort Dodge Railroad in 1901) to catch the passenger cars, driven by steam locomotives, into Fort Dodge. These stream locomotives were supplanted later by a self-contained gasoline-driven McKeen motor car which made regular daily trips from Fort Dodge to Lehigh, through Gypsum until 1917.


Coalville Grocery


Old Coalville Grocery Tearing Down the Old Store New Grocery Store
Old Coalville Grocery
Tearing Down the Old Store
New Grocery Store

Many of the early settlers stayed in Pleasant Valley after their arrival in this country and contributed much toward the development and progress of the area. Among these were Tom and Henry Collins. They were farmers and coalminers and also owned the General Store. The General Store was sold to William Jordison in 1882, who had arrived from Yorkshire, England, near Leeds, with his brother Samuel in 1879. The General Store was operated by William Jordison and his descendants until 1967 when it was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Peart. Don and Tiny owned the "Coalville Grocery" for almost 20 years. The old store was torn down in the late 70's and the new one was built around 1983. Tiny said, "I enjoyed all the years I worked at the Coalville Grocery, I felt like I was the local psychiatrist though, sure heard a lot." The Peart's sold the grocery to Mike and Barb Runyon and they sold it to Angie and Ken Marquart. The current owners Tiny said, are Denny and Brenda Crouse. We were all lucky to have the grocery in town, it saved lots of trips into Fort Dodge.


Toyland


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From the earliest days, through World War I and the depression years, entertainment for the community was found close to home. Autumn was the time for packing picnic baskets and going off to the walnut or hickory groves in the wooded areas to gather nuts for the winter use. Ice skating on the river and ponds, riding in a horse drawn sleigh, tobogganing or coasting on a small sled or playing Fox and Geese were all great winter fun. The preferred location for coasting were the part of the old stage coach road that ran from the school house, west, to the river, and a hill, called "Toyland Hill" that was located close to the river.

To this day I remember hearing stories from my brother and sister of the school children all meeting and sliding down the hills of Toyland. All the kids of Coalville grabbing their sleds and heading for this great hill to throw your sled on the fresh fallen blanket of snow and they all would scream and squeal as they slid down the hill trying to bob the brush and little bumps. Doing their best to see who could ride the best ride and stay on the sled and jump up at the bottom and say, "Let's do it again!"


Wild Cat Cave


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The early settlers, traveling to this area in their covered wagons and they must have marveled at the land's beauty, at the endless stretches of whispering prairie grass, at the scenic Des Moines River, at the groves of walnut, hickory and wild plum trees and at the beautiful wooded areas along the river and creeks. They must have been delighted with the miniature gorges and canyons of Wild Cat's Cave. Wild Cat's Cave was a well-known recreation place in the early days.

In the later days the settlers would come to Wild Cat's Cave, which hosted live band performances. Many area people traveled down the winding roads to the canyon floor where it stretched out flat in front of the cave, and they could listen to music and the kids could climb the rocks and play in the creek.

Wild Cat's Cave was a lively place on a Saturday night, with Banjos, Fiddles, Guitars, and Accordions playing, there were various friends and neighbors making music together in this lovely natural amphitheater.


Information gathered from "Webster's Prairies", The Township History of the County. Coalville section written by Irene Sweatt. Also information was gathered from resources located at the Fort Dodge Historical Society re: article written by Lee Harris, from personal interviews with former earlier citizens; Mr. Robert Jordison, Mr. Alec Ray, Mrs. Margaret Peart, Mrs. E.B. Stewart and Mr. Marvin White. Pictures were obtained from various contributors: Tiny Peart, Bernard and Jo Auten, Roger Natte and the Fort Dodge Historical Society and the Clarence Albright Family.

Click here to visit COAL INFORMATION NETWORK one of the BEST Coalmining links on the net. A great source of information and "Your LINK to the World of Coal Information on the Internet".

Click on the words that are highlighted in blue and it will link you to this information.[Roger Natte, a local Fort Dodge Historian has been researching and compiling information on a piece he has prepared on Coal Mining in Webster County. Roger contributed some of this information to the Coalville homepage. A good share of mining in Webster County focuses on mining in the Pleasant Valley Township area. A special thank you to Roger for this information.]


Click here to visit Webster Co Gen Web link
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