Place:Oelwein, Fayette, Iowa, United States


Coordinates42.677°N 91.916°W
Located inFayette, Iowa, United States
Contained Places
Old Catholic Cemetery
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Oelwein is a city in Fayette County, Iowa, United States. The population was 6,415 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 4.1% from the 2000 census. The largest community in Fayette County, it is located 2 miles south of the junction of State Highways 3 and 150.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The town of Oelwein was laid out in a corn field purchased from Gustav Oelwein on the coming of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railroad (later called the Rock Island) in 1872. Some years later the two dividing streets of Oelwein were named after his sons, Frederick and Charles.

The town of Oelwein is named after the Oelwein family, but they were not the original settlers of the land. On the contrary, it was entered by a professional man at Dubuque, who made it his business to enter land, add a good fee for his trouble, plus a high rate of interest, and then not turn it over to the man in whose name it was registered until he was able to pay the price. Oelwein's present site was entered in 1852 by J. B. Burch. The hamlet of Oelwein was instituted in 1873, and was incorporated as a town in 1888, with Dr. Israel Pattison becoming its first mayor. The town suffered its chief setback in 1887, when nearly all of the old Main Street business district (now First Avenue SE) was destroyed by fire. In 1890 the census gave the population as 830.

By January 1892, Oelwein was chosen to become the center of the Chicago Great Western Railway; the CGW made the town the site of their locomotive and car repair shop. Clearing the land for the shops began in June 1894. The shops were completed and put into operation in May 1899. Thus, Oelwein became known as the "Shop City" and later the "Hub City" because of the rail lines coming into town and the repair shops located here.

By 1895 the population had increased to 1,928, and in 1897 Oelwein was incorporated as a city. In 1900, Oelwein had 5,142 people within the city limits, of whom 789 were foreign-born. Oelwein was one of few Iowa towns to experience an influx of Italian immigrants who were employed in the railroad industry. In 1910, the population was 6,028, and in 1940, 7,801.

In 1968, the town suffered another setback when a tornado swept through the main business district. 68 homes were destroyed, including some in F5 damage, 132 sustained major damage and 600 sustained less damage. Every business in the district suffered damage including 51 that were destroyed. Two churches, an elementary school, and the middle school were destroyed. Extensive damage was also done in nearby Maynard. Along the path, 5 people died (one in Oelwein), 156 were injured, and $21 million worth of ($18 million in Oelwein) damage was done, inflated to $130.4 million today.

Oelwein remained a "railroad town" until the early 1980s when most of the railroad tracks to the East, North and then West directions were abandoned. Transco Railway Products exists in Oelwein today. That business employs about 70 people repairing railroad cars. Transco employees donated their time to refurbish a Chicago Great Western EMD FP7 diesel locomotive that is displayed near the Hub City Heritage Museum, 26 2nd Avenue SW, the museum of railroad memorabilia.

Methland controversy

The 2009 book by Nick Reding (Bloomsbury Press) documents the drug culture and how it ties into larger issues of rural flight and small town economic decline placed in the historic context of the drug trade. While Reding's book received positive reviews from the New York Times Sunday Book Review and Washington Post's Book World, it was severely criticised by local columnist Laura Behrens, who wrote, "it is so ridden with errors of basic reporting that the credibility of its larger premises is crippled", pointing out several factual errors.

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