History of Cedar Falls | Cedar Falls Historical Society | Cedar Falls, Iowa

A Brief History of Cedar Falls, Iowa

William Sturgis and his brother-in-law, Erasmus Adams, were the first permanent residents of “Sturgis Falls,” now known as Cedar Falls. They were attracted to the area for its farm land, timber and the Cedar River. The community was bought from the Sturgis family, in 1850, by John and Dempsey Overman, along with John Barrick. They renamed the community Cedar Falls.

Cedar Falls grew from approximately 450 people to over 1,500, from 1855 to 1860. The area began developing and the post office was opened in 1850, a schoolhouse in 1853 and a railroad connection in 1861.

In 1863, the Civil War Soldier's Orphan Home was built. This has since become the University of Northern Iowa. In the early 1900s, many prominent landmarks were constructed. Some of these included Viking Pump, The Broom Factory, Sartori Hospital and the Cedar Falls Bible Conference. Prohibition was also strongly supported by the community during this period of time and Overman Park and College Hill Park were created. In 1921 Cedar Falls held their first Cedar Falls Interdenominational Bible Conference, as religion was becoming an important influence on the community.

From 1950 to 1980, the City of Cedar Falls had one of the fastest growing populations in the state of Iowa. Today, residents of Cedar Falls have a strong sense of pride in their community and boast a competitive school system, a collaborating relationship with the University of Northern Iowa and experienced community leaders.