Every town in Iowa has a story as to how it acquired its name, but perhaps few are as interesting as the community of Lakota in Kossuth County.
As the town's website notes, "The present town of Lakota was originally named Germania. The original town site of Germania was surveyed and filed for record by the Northern Iowa Land and Town Lot Company, August 26, 1892. The town received its name from the German heritage of many of the early settlers in the area."
However, less than 3 decades later, at the on-set of the first World War, the town with a lot of German immigrants decided it needed a rebrand.
The website goes on to note: "In 1918, the hysteria of World War I was sweeping the country. Residents couldn’t change their origin to protect themselves from the popular hatred of the time, but they could take the stigma of all things German from the town by wiping its name off the map, which they did. An election was held on October 1, 1918 to vote to change the name of Germania, Iowa to Lakota, Iowa. A canvas of the votes showed there were 48 yes and 32 no votes cast."
The name change to Lakota, "an Indian word with several different translations. Some say Lakota means “beautiful prairie” or as other translations say Lakota means “plenty”, others say it means “allies”."
There's a small monument in the town's city park that was placed there at the time of it's centennial in the 1992. There, they pay homage to the original name.
However, driving around town, you won't see a lot of other references to the original name. Instead, you find a nice farming community of 255 as of the 2010 census and a number of nice amenities, businesses, and homes. For example, near the centennial monument is a small park-like area that includes a veterans memorial, gazebo, and other elements of the town's history.
You can stop and appreciate Lakota's fire bell. Our technology has come along way in the decades since this was needed.
The veterans memorial is very nice and includes a granite stone with engravings, three flags, and some landscaping.
There's also a nice bench donated by some local 4-Hers.
The light poles in town also include some signs welcoming veterans.
Nearby, I found some playground equipment for the town's most youthful residents and visitors.
The city park is near the town's public library, which is a building with some great architecture.
The building also doubles as the town's city hall.
The bell, library, park, and memorial are all located within the downtown part of the community. There's several other commercial type buildings in this area.
Lakota Agency is an insurance business.
The front of this building includes an establishment called "Mug Shots".
The backside of the building is also a hospitality establishment. At the time of my visit, it was known as Road Runners. However, in the time since my visit, which was in November of 2020, a new business has moved in. Road Runners has been replaced by The Patriot Bar and Grill. The next time I'm in the area, I'll have to pop in to check it out.
There are several other commercial or industrial buildings in the area and around town that are being used in various ways.
This red building has served as a veterinary clinic.
My visit was on a Saturday and the museum was not open. Otherwise, I'd love to stop in and scope it out. I'm sure there's plenty more in there about it's Germania era.
I found a building which serves as the garage for the emergency services vehicles.
On the north edge of town, I found a car dealership.
There's a garage building that appears as though it may be a trucking business or perhaps a road maintenance shop and garage?
Lakota is home to a few churches, including this gorgeous Presbyterian Church.
There's also a sizable Lutheran Church.
There's a big old brick school building in town. The building has a lot of neat uses these days and one of those is Luby's on Smith Street.
As the picture notes, there's an Eagle Avenue of Homes sign. I did not expect to find such a great mix-use for this building in Lakota, but I'd encourage you to check out the website to see everything that is going on. From banquet and office space to residential homes, there's a lot to appreciate here. I'm glad to see Lakota is making such a good use of their old school building. Many other small towns could and should follow their example.
Of course, there are other nice single family homes around town.
As you can see, these streets are lined by nice mature trees.
There's also several housing options in multi-family dwellings.
I found a building with an American flag painted on it.
And what's more American than some baseball? There's also a ball field in town.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of Iowa's economy and that's also true of Lakota.
Just up the road, right along Highway 9, is a State Line Co-op location.
The railroad runs right by the elevator and also goes through town.
Of course, the railroad is important for hauling away our abundant grain commodities and bringing in crop inputs.
If you find yourself in North Iowa traveling down Highway 9, it's a worthwhile destination just off the highway.
Growing up in rural O'Brien County, one of my neighbors was originally from Lakota. Despite driving by a few times on Highway 9, I believe this was the first time to actually stop in and explore the town. My visit was brief but enjoyable. However, I'll have to stop back again and check out a few of the hospitality spots and visit the museum and library. Whether it goes by Germania or Lakota, this Kossuth County town is a nice, quaint farming community with a lot a lot of positive things happening.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Kossuth County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me an note through this site.