History of Lorimor

A small, but growing community, Lorimor was settled on the "Great Divide", where the water shed to the west of town runs to the Missouri River and the water shed to the east of town carries water to the Mississippi River.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were, of course, the Native Americans, and were friendly to the white settlers when they began to move into the area. It is said that they would help the white settlers fight the prairie fires that occurred. The first white settlers were the Mormons who came to the area in 1846 on their trek to find the "Promised Land" after being kicked out of their settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois. They settled along the east bank of the Grand River in Jones Township. They stayed for two years, building cabins and raising crops, and then in 1850, they moved on. By 1852, all of their land had either been sold or abandoned. A cemetery and monument marks the site of the Mormon settlement and is known as Mt. Pisgah. It is located 4 1/2 miles south of Lorimor and is maintained by members of the Latter Day Saints from surrounding areas.

Located in New Hope Township in the northeast corner of Union County, Iowa, Lorimor was founded by J.S. Lorimor. Mr. Lorimor had purchased 1200 acres in the township from the government. In 1886 news came that the Chicago, St. Paul, and Kansas City Railroad would build a railroad through the township. Mr. Lorimor offered a right-of-way through his land. The offer was accepted and in 1887 J. S. Lorimor laid out the plat for the town along the railroad right-of-way and began to sell lots. The first train passed through the town that same year.

The first lot sold in the town of Lorimor was to John Duff for $100.00. The first business was a lumberyard owned by R.H. Delmage. The town began to thrive and grow with the addition of churches, a newspaper, and a school. A petition to incorporate was filed on March 22, 1892, with the election to incorporate held on May 14, 1892. Fifty-six votes in all were cast in the election with fifty-three votes favoring the incorporation and three votes against.

The railroad allowed the town to grow and prosper by stimulating business and also by providing jobs. Area farmers provided the railroad with much of its freight as they brought their livestock and grain to be shipped. Passenger trains gave the area citizens a means of travel to large metropolitan cities. Through the years the Lorimor business community included one or more of the following: hotel, livery stable, stockyard, foundry, blacksmith, brickyard, furniture store, bakery, dentist, doctor, bank, grocery store, hardware, car dealership, garage, gas station, insurance, beauty shop, barber shop, clothing store, millinery shop, lumberyard, cafe, feed store, veterinarian, funeral parlor and many more of the businesses that made a community prosper.

Lorimor was a busy, bustling town for many years, but as with many small towns in Iowa, the times have changed the makeup of the town and the population has declined.

Through the years, businesses left, the railroad was abandoned, and the East Union School District closed the elementary center. With all of these changes, the people of Lorimor continue to persevere to keep their town a good environment in which to live, to raise families, or to retire. The water, sewer, and natural gas systems are all municipal owned, allowing for some of the lowest utility rates in the surrounding area. The schoolhouse is privately owned and is being rehabilitated into apartments and several new homes have been added to the community in the past three years. The city fathers have put into place building blocks to stimulate growth by passing a residential and commercial tax abatement plan, off-setting our already low property taxes, to encourage new construction and improvements to existing property. The Lorimor Community Development Corporation is active in promoting Lorimor and has plans to attract business to town.

At the present time, Lorimor business offers a convenience store, tire repair, restaurant and lounge, monument business, insurance, beauty shop, welding shop and mini storage units.

Lorimor is proud to be the home of the Stitchcraft Division of Winnebago Industries that employs 60 local residents. The Winnebago plant in Lorimor manufactures the quilts, blinds, draperies, mattresses, bedspreads, and upholstery for the company's motor homes.

Lorimor has several organizations whose members spend many volunteer hours serving the community in various ways. Three churches have active congregations. A group of mostly senior citizens put together a weekly newspaper, The New Lorimorian, that is mailed free of charge to all area residents and several out of town and state subscribers.

Lorimor is the located close to several area tourist attractions including, Twelve Mile and Three Mile Lakes to our west, the Covered Bridges of Madison County to the north, Mt. Pisgah to the south, and the Lakeside Casino located in Osceola, south and east of Lorimor