The New International Encyclopædia/Keokuk (Iowa)
KE′OKUK. A city and one of the county-seats of Lee County, Iowa, 160 miles southeast of the State capital, Des Moines; at the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers; and on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, the Toledo, Peoria and Western, the Wabash, and other railroads (Map: Iowa, F 4). It is at the foot of the Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi, around which a canal eight miles long with three sets of locks, built by the Federal Government at a cost of between seven and eight million dollars, and opened in 1877, provides a navigable waterway. With these transportation facilities, both by rail and by water, Keokuk has developed into an important wholesale and jobbing place, and, as the centre of a fertile agricultural section, controls an extensive trade in farm products. The river falls 21 feet in 12 miles, affording at this point great possibilities for water-power, estimated at from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand horse-power, which is now being developed. The industrial establishments include lumber-mills, powder-works, canning and pickle establishments, a poultry-packing plant, tin-can factory, stove-works, garment factories, boot and shoe factories, a cereal factory, and flour-mills. The city, locally known as the ‘Gate City,’ extends from the river to the summit of high bluffs, and has wide streets. Among its features may be mentioned Rand Park, the burial-place of the Indian chief after whom the city was named, the National Cemetery, a public library of 17,000 volumes; and among educational institutions, a college of physicians, established in 1849, and a large dental college. Other noteworthy structures are the United States Government building, the high-school building, the Union railroad station, Young Men's Christian Association building, and opera-house. The railroad and wagon bridge across the Mississippi River here is over 2000 feet long. Keokuk was incorporated first in 1848, and is governed, as are four other cities in Iowa, by special charter. The government is vested in a mayor, elected biennially; a unicameral council; and subordinate municipal officials, of whom the more important are appointed or elected as follows: By the mayor—the police and deputy marshal, light inspector, street supervisor, and calaboose-keeper; by the mayor, with the consent of the council—the library committee, park commissioners, and city weigher; by the council—the mayor pro tem., city attorney, clerk of the Superior Court, city engineer, treasurer, and sidewalk inspector; and by the people—the judge of the Superior Court, city marshal, and assessor. Population, in 1890, 14,101; in 1900, 14,641. Consult “Early Days in Keokuk,” in Annals of Iowa, vol. iii. (Iowa City, 1871).