Iowa August 29, 2017
Most People Have No Idea This Underwater City in Iowa Even Exists
Local residents know about it, of course. When the lake’s water levels are low there is visual evidence of life before the lake.
Lake Red Rock is a place thousands of people go every summer to swim, camp, fish, and enjoy the outdoors.
Most people aren’t aware that while they are enjoying the sun and water on the lake, they are above six Marion County river towns that were covered with water during the development of the lake.
The towns of Dunreath, Red Rock, Cordova, Rousseau, Fifield, and Coalport are all under the surface of the water at Lake Red Rock.
The Corps of Engineers bought the area around Lake Red Rock in the early 60s. The one-hundred-year-old school in Red Rock closed in 1958.
In 1947, flooding in the area was severe. Local government agencies decided to build preventative structures.
They decided to build a structure above the town of Red Rock, just one mile wet of the Mile-Long Bridge. Just a few months later, a second site, 10 miles downstream was chosen.
The Dunreath school was open until 1955.
Residents between the two sites were understandably upset. Eleven years later, in 1959, the second site was approved. All land below elevation 760 was acquired for the project.
The Fifield Store was just one building in this lost town. The school operated until May 1959.
The dam was completed in late 1968 and the gates closed in 1969. The minimum pool elevation of 725 was raised to elevation 742 due to rapid siltation.
The Red Rock House as it stood in 1958.
This is the largest lake in Iowa.
It’s a huge draw for campers, boaters, and fishermen. Elk Rock State Park is on both sides of the lake. The "Mile Long Bridge" carries Iowa Hwy 14.
Dutch Hart’s Store in Cardova in 1920
The best view of the area is from the Cordova Observation Tower. Named after the lost town of Cordova, it is the tallest observation tower in the Midwest located in a public park.
There are 170 steps to the top. It has the world’s longest continuous fiberglass staircase. The tower is located at 1378 Highway G-28, Otley at Cordova Park. It’s open year round between 7am and 8pm.
Have you visited the lost towns of Red Rock?