Exira is the oldest town in Audubon County. It is situated with David's (Davis) Creek to the north and the Nishna Botna River to the west. It was sometimes called " The Wooded City" or "the City Beautiful".
1856 Congress granted large amounts of Iowa land to the railroad companies to aid development of railways across the state. One of those grants was to the Mississippi & Missouri Railraod Co. for the construction of the railway from Davenport to Council Bluffs. A few years later the rights were transferred to Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Co. A new survey was made and the railroad was put through Atlantic instead.
During the time the railroad survey ran through Exira, the town was laid out by David Edgerton who owned the land that Exira was platted. It was planned to conform with a new railroad, Depot Street was named where the depot was to have been built and Main Street which runs south of the park was to be the throughfare. Exira was named for Judge John Eckman's daughter who was visiting from Ohio seeing relatives.
1858 seen the first public building built, which was a school, courthouse and church. 1887 Exira had a devastating fire that took eleven stores, the post office and all it's records. The entire north side of main street (Washington) was burnt to the ground. 13 new brick stores were built within a year.
The establishment of Audubon County actually begain with the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804. President Jefferson sent the expedition out west to see if the purchase price .05 cents was worth it. Other explorers and settlers followed and they came and went in what became known as Iowa Country.
In 1845 the Indians had been pushed farther westward and had disposed of the last of their Iowa lands, and all the prairie between the Nishna Botna Rivers was open to settlers.
Many remember July 2, 1958 as if it was yesterday and it devastated west town Exira. 19 people losted their lives, 1,000 people were flooded out of their homes, 59 injured, 68,400 acres of farmland flooded, 15,150 head of livestock died as well. July 17 the newspaper estimated 150,000 sightseers traveled to see the devastation. The "Lucky 13" noticed a gravel truck and stayed there for seven hours wating for the water to recede. You can call 712-764-1958 to hear the stories of the survivors.
As they say history repeats itself but who would have thought that another flood would hit Exira in 1993. The water did not come chest high but west town Exira under water once more. A lot of clean up, once again with neighbors helping neighbors, family, friends, old, young we all pitched in to get Exira back up and running.
Exira, whether it be your home town, or your adopted home town as it is for me, I consider it a "City Beautiful" as it has color and life as only home towns do. Live Life. Live Exira.