Located in Iowa’s northwest quadrant, Sac County offers abundant agricultural resources, scenic landscapes, and cultural activities for its 10,000+ residents across 578 square miles. Before its establishment in 1851, this region was home to the Fox and Sauk (Sac) Native Americans, from whom it derives its name.
The fertile soil, a result of glacial deposits, was shaped by the Wisconsin glacier, which also formed Black Hawk Lake, the southernmost glacial lake in Iowa. The allure of farming attracted settlers in the 1850s, with affordable land prices of $3 an acre. Settlers often journeyed by ox cart, and building a residence was a requirement for new property owners.
These hardy settlers spread the word about Sac County’s opportunities, leading to population growth. By 1860, 246 people called it home, growing to 1,411 a decade later and a remarkable 17,639 by 1900.
Sac City, the county’s oldest community, became the county seat in 1856. As the population increased, various towns emerged. To transform the prairie into farmland, John F. Duncombe surveyed and divided the county into square-mile sections. Sac City developed along the Fort Dodge to Sergeant Bluff stagecoach line and thrived as a stopping place for travelers.
Local businesses and homes, many with striking architectural designs, enriched the town. Commerce, banking, and real estate investments played pivotal roles in its growth. Churches and schools served as community hubs, and the Sac City Institute, a respected college, trained teachers and had a renowned music conservatory.
Entertainment options included movie theaters, opera houses, circuses, fishing, hunting, skating, and Chautauqua shows, often held in a significant outdoor pavilion.
Transportation, including access to railroads and Highway 20 (once Sac City’s Main Street), fueled community growth, connecting residents to markets and distant horizons. Sac County’s history is a tapestry of resilience, innovation, and community spirit, shaped by its diverse landscape and the people who call it home.