Sioux City in Woodbury County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
From Settlement to State Park
Stone State Park
People have always been attracted to the loess Hills, with their rich natural resources and beautiful landscape. Native peoples, explorers, early settlers, and modern man have gathered across, settled upon, and enjoyed these lush lands.
Settlement after Statehood
Following statehood, 1846, western Iowa was flooded with pioneers. They came in covered wagons, on horseback, and on foot. Seeking adventure and a new way of life, they surged westward. Many settled in these hills.
The late 1800s saw a nationwide transformation, as small pioneer settlements blossomed into thriving urban centers. Iowan Daniel H. Talbot joined the boom and soon amassed a fortune in growing Sioux City.
Mr. Talbot invested his wealth in land, including most of what is now Stone State Park. Though he had no formal education, he had a keen interest in science and established an experimental cross breeding farm on the property. He produced solid-footed hogs, bred cattle with buffalo, and kept all manner of unusual animals. He amassed a large library and a collection of bird skins, which reside today at the University
Changing Hands, Changing Times
Mr. Talbot lost his fortune in the nationwide Panic of 1893, and his farm was taken over by the First National Bank. It became known as Minnewauseka Park. During the 1890s, the new park was the center of much social life with dances in the old barn, picnics, swimming and fishing.
An ensuing depression saw the failure of the bank, and the land was acquired by the bank's president Thomas Jefferson Stone. Elaborate parties were held, and water was sold from the property's famous springs, Melhurst Springs. Upon the death of Stone and his wife, Emma, in 1905, the land passed on to their children. Son Edgar Stone developed the land as a private recreational park.
Following Edgar's death, his wife, Lucia, donated the property to Sioux City in 1912 on the condition that it be called Stone Park. Roads were developed to and through the park, which are still used today. In 1918 the Stone City Park and Zoo was opened with 5 Buffalos, 3 cows, and 2 bulls. Ostriches, wild cats and other animals, purchased from a bankrupt circus, were eventually added to the small zoo.
Birth of a State Park
In 1935, the park was deeded to the state, officially becoming Stone State Park. Portions of the zoo were transferred to others, although the black bears remained a park fixture until 1940. many groups including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Salvation Army, ran cams at the park, drawing generations of young people outdoors.
The CCC at Stone
The Depression of the 1930s brought great change to Iowa state parks. President Roosevelt created several programs to provide work for Americans. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was formed in March 1933 and by July 275,000 young men were working in 1,300 camps around the nation. Many served in state parks, constructing a variety of facilities by hand. Over 1,000 structures were built across 39 Iowa parks. Company VCCC 2725 at Camp SP23/DSP3 served at Stone State Park from 135 to 1939. The men developed hiking trails, overlooks, roads, and a water system. Park residences, Stone Lodge, two shelters, stone erosion control dams, and two entrance portals were also constructed, adding greatly to the amenities in the park. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Erected by State Parks Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Parks & Recreational Areas • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 🏞️ series list.
Location. 42° 33.428′ N, 96° 28.511′ W. Marker is in Sioux City, Iowa, in Woodbury County. Marker is on Stone State Park Dr. Located at the western entrance to Stone State Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sioux City IA 51109, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Geology Wonders (here, next to this marker); Native Peoples of the Loess (a few steps from this marker); An American Treasure (approx. 0.2 miles away); Prairies in the Hills (approx. 0.3 miles away); Big Sioux River Valley (approx. 0.3 miles away); Prospect Hill (approx. 5.3 miles away); Grasshopper Cross (approx. 5.4 miles away in South Dakota); St. Peter's Church (approx. 5.4 miles away in South Dakota). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux City.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 11, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 83 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 10, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.