“Are We There Yet? Let’s Check the Maps,” an exhibit of antique maps that covers 125 years of the settlement and growth of Mitchell County and Iowa, will be unveiled at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 24 during grand opening reception at the Mitchell County Historical Society Museum in the Cedar River complex in Osage.
Featured are over 40 maps, ranging from the mid-1800s through much of the 20th century. The museum has been reorganized to accommodate the display of loaned maps for the exhibit, according to organizers from the Mitchell County Historical Society.
The maps come from a variety of owners and sources, said society member Denis Boerjan. As word spread, interest in the exhibit grew. He said he was impressed with the variety of maps and what they show.
“Seeing the stagecoach and railway routes, the names of rivers and towns, how they have changed – it’s really, really interesting,” he said.
According to a press release, the maps are as instructive as they are illuminating. Visitors will be able to see how some rivers and roads had different names from today. For example, the Cedar River on early maps was called the Red Cedar River.
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Some towns prospered with the arrival of the railroad, while others became ghost towns and today have only a brief mention in the history books. Early towns with names such as Fuller, Brownville, and Doran are only visible on early maps.
Also interesting are the original flat maps of the towns of Riceville, Orchard, Carpenter and McIntire. Mitchell County maps from 1870, 1899, 1938 and 1972, showing ownership of all parcels in the county, will also be on display. Boerjan said the 1938 map might be of particular interest, given the number of insurance companies and banks that owned many plots – following the Great Depression years, when some farmers lost ownership of their lands.
Some maps will also show Iowa early in its history – first as a territory, then as a state. The early roads, known by names rather than numbers, are also interesting. On a 1914 map, visitors can see the Lincoln Highway, River to River Road, and The Great White Way. Additionally, the Osage News created and published a hand-drawn map of Mitchell County in 1908.
Brief commentary, refreshments and music by Sam Crosser will be part of the grand reception when the exhibit opens to visitors. The exhibit will continue to be on view through September during the museum’s regular hours of operation, 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
There is no admission charge at the reception. Donations are welcome.
The Mitchell County Historical Society Museum is located in the Cedar River Complex, 809 Sawyer Drive in Osage.