Charles City, Iowa

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{household, population, female}
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Charles City is a city in Floyd County, Iowa, United States. The population was 7,812 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Floyd County[1]. Charles City is a significant commercial and transportation center for the area, located on U.S. Highways 18 and 218, Iowa Highway 14, and the Canadian National and Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroads.



Located on the site of a Winnebago Indian village, Charles City was originally named “Charlestown” for the son of the first-known white settler to the area, Joseph Kelly. Upon his 1851 arrival to the area, Kelly envisioned the site, with its ample supply of water from the Cedar River and adjacent timberlands, as an ideal location for a town. By 1852, twenty-five other settler families had joined Kelly in that vision and a community was born. The town name changed, first to “St. Charles” and then to “Charles City,” to avoid duplication of other Iowa town names.

Charles City became the county seat after Floyd County was established in 1851 and officially organized in 1854. Floyd County itself was most likely named for Sergeant Charles Floyd of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Charles City is known for the role it played in the history of the American tractor. A native son Charles Walter Hart, who's father owned three local farms,[2] met Charles H. Parr in college. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Hart and Parr developed a two-cylinder gasoline engine and set up their business in Charles City in 1897. It was here in 1901 the term "tractor" with Latin roots and a combination of the words traction and power [3] was first coined by Hart and Parr.[4] In 1903 the firm built fifteen "tractors", the first successful production-model tractor line in the U.S. The 14,000 pound #3 is the oldest surviving internal combustion engine tractor in the United States and is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.[5] In 1929, Hart-Parr was one of the four companies that merged to form Oliver Farm Equipment Company and finally the White Farm-New Idea Equipment Co. At its peak in the mid-1970s, the sprawling plant complex encompassed 23 acres and employed nearly 3,000 workers.[citation needed] The 1980s farm crisis and other economic pressures led to the closing of the plant in 1993. As of 2010, the vacant site stands ready for re-use. The Floyd County Historical Museum preserves the plant’s history and memories in an extensive collection of documents and artifacts.

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