Our Town Cedar Falls - A Rich History

CEDAR FALLS - Like many eastern Iowa communities, Our Town Cedar Falls has grown around a river, and that's played a major role in Our Town's history. Much of the history of Cedar Falls is centered around the Cedar River.

During the winters in the 1920s and '30s, the town harvested ice from the river and stored it here at the ice house. We'll take you inside the building, which now serves as a museum. And we'll see how the local Historical Society has made efforts to preserve other historic buildings in town.

Jeff Kurtz has a busy job. He's the president of the Cedar Falls Historical Society. And Cedar Falls loves its history.

"The mission of the Historical Society is to preserve and communicate the history of our community. So we collect artifacts, create displays, provide educational opportunities- all to get people interested in history and to take pride in their community," said Jeff Kurtz, Historical Society.

The town was founded in 1845 by William Sturgis. Originally called Sturgis Falls, the town was re-named Cedar Falls in 1849. The Historical Society maintains five museums in Our Town that highlight all this history. They each have a different focus. Perhaps the most unique is the Ice House Museum.

Back then, the lifestyles of citizens in cedar falls depended on this building. The city harvested ice from the Cedar River. And drivers delivered it to homes to be used to keep food cool. But refrigeration technology came about and the ice house was no longer necessary.

"This building was vacant for a number of years. It's been everything from a boat house to an auction house," said Kurtz.

In 1976, it was fated to be torn down. The community rallied to save the building and it re-opened as a museum in 1979. And now exhibits at the museum teach visitors many lessons.

"The value of history is to take examples and have a better understanding of ourselves and gain wisdom," said Kurtz.

The Historical Society volunteers and the citizens of Our Town Cedar Falls work hard to preserve historic buildings like the Ice House.

"History is not always in a book. It's the church next door, it's the business that existed for many years or the home or the park or areas all around us that it is up to us to take care of or watch them deteriorate," said Kurtz.
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