What Ever Happened to the Town Beneath the Lake?

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the area around Pella, there is a very interesting lesson in history regarding a local body of water named Lake Red Rock. This lake wasn’t always there—in fact, there use to be several smaller towns in its place. One of those towns was named Red Rock!

Residents eagerly boarded the bus and headed over to the lake’s visitor center to satisfy their curiosity! We were intrigued to learn about the different towns beneath the lake and how the lake came to existence. During our visit, we discovered that all of the towns were fairly small and had been located next to the Des Moines River that flowed between them. Some of the towns included Red Rock, Fifield, Coalport, Rousseau, Cordova, and Dunreath. These towns all played significant roles in the area until one day the Des Moines River flooded, leaving the towns under several feet of water. When the water receded, the townspeople did all they could to try to prevent it from happening again. Talk soon began about the utilization of a dam; the location of the dam would ultimately determine the fate of these towns. As everyone knows today, the dam was placed just south west of Pella and unfortunately brought the previously mentioned towns to their demise. Most of the debris from the towns was demolished and carted away before the lake filled. However, the dam has been very helpful to the town of Pella since its construction and is now being updated to a hydro-dam.

We learned many interesting facts about the towns that were swallowed up by the lake, as well as a fascinating story about a tree. The notorious Peace Tree represents an important piece of history, and can still be seen floating around the lake to this day. For the longest time, the ancient sycamore tree was attached to the ground as the top poked out of the water. In 2018, the massive tree finally broke from its roots and started floating around. There was a buoy attached to it as a safety precaution for boaters, as the tree bobbed its way around the lake. Now the tree serves a symbol of the rich and bountiful history of Lake Red Rock.

Our residents loved to hear about the towns that some of them had once visited before the lake took over. The history behind these towns and the lake help make what Pella and its surroundings what they are today!

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