Near the geographical center of Iowa, Boone is a city in Des Moines Township and is the county seat of Boone County. With parts of the original Lincoln Highway running through it, Boone presents the picture of a big “little city”. Bounded by abundant parks and summer camping areas along the colorful Des Moines River, it is adjacent to some of Iowa’s richest farm lands.
As far back as 1849, local blacksmiths were mining coal from the banks of Honey Creek, south of what would later become Boone. Boone was platted as a town in 1865 under the name “Montana” and incorporated the following year when the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company built a railroad station there. The name was changed to Boone in 1871, and the nearby town of Boonesboro was annexed to Boone in 1887.
The city was named in honor of Captain Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone, who made an expedition through the territory June 23, 1835, during the Second Dragoon Expedition. By 1865, when the town was plotted, there were 300 buildings, and the town grew rapidly, especially after the railroad arrived. It is situated 340 miles west of Chicago, 150 miles east of Omaha, 200 miles south of the twin cities St. Paul and Minneapolis, 320 miles north of St. Louis and 42 miles north of Des Moines.
Boone is still served by the mainline of the Union Pacific Railroad, which purchased the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad (C&NW) in 1995.
Pufferbilly Days, an annual event celebrating Boone’s railroad heritage, is held the week after Labor Day and is one of Iowa’s top five community festivals with over 30,000 attendees.
In conjunction with this celebration, during the first week in September, the Boone Speedway holds the Speedway Motors IMCA Super Nationals racing event, with many of the top drivers from across the United States coming to Boone to compete.
The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad / James H. Andrew Railroad Museum was started in 1983 by a group of volunteers who wanted to preserve a scenic section of the former Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern Railroad (of which Boone was the exact midpoint). The stretch of track winds through the Des Moines River Valley and includes a 156’ tall bridge spanning Bass Point Creek. The line runs from Boone, through the old coal mining town of Fraser, and ends at the site of the former junction with the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway at Wolf. They have a steam locomotive that powers the museum’s 1920’s excursion trains, and a passenger locomotive powers their dinner train, dessert train and picnic train. They also have a short electric trolley ride that provides roundtrip service between their depot and downtown Boone. For two weekends in September, they host a “Day out with Thomas”, October has a “Pumpkin Express” and in November and December, “The Santa Express” rolls.
Boone is also the site of the annual Farm Progress Show at the Central Iowa Expo. The show alternates between Boone, Iowa, and Decatur, Illinois. The outdoor flat space facilities include 116 acres that are gated, with an additional 70 acres for parking. There are also buildings permanently located on the grounds that are available to rent.
The first Fareway Store opened for business in Boone on May 12, 1938. Today, Fareway is a top 10 employer in Iowa, with over 120 store locations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The very first Casey’s General Store was a converted three-bay garage that opened in Boone, Iowa, in July 1968. The first Casey’s carried a limited list of products – two kinds of gasoline, common grocery items and 10-cent cups of coffee. Pizza was introduced in 1985, and now Casey’s is the 4th largest convenience store chain and the 5th largest pizza chain in the US.