Grinnell, Iowa

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Grinnell is a city in Poweshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 9,105 at the 2000 census. Grinnell was named after Josiah Bushnell Grinnell and is the home of Grinnell College.



Grinnell was founded in 1854 by Josiah B. Grinnell. The city was originally slated to be named "Stella," but J.B. Grinnell convinced other members of the colony to adopt his own name for the city, citing it as a rare and concise name.[1] By 1880 Grinnell had a population of around 2000. Located at the junction of two railway lines (east-west line of the Rock Island Railroad and the north-south Minneapolis & St Louis (M&St L) Railroad) it became and remains the largest community in Poweshiek County.

Grinnell was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Grinnell is also home to Grinnell College, the first college established west of the Mississippi. On June 17, 1882 a tornado destroyed most of the college campus and much of the community and caused a death toll near 100. In 1889 fire destroyed most of the downtown area.[2]

In the early 1900s Grinnell was home to one of the pioneers of modern aviation, Billy Robinson.[3]

Grinnell was home to Spaulding Manufacturing. H.W. Spaulding began making carriages and spring wagons in Grinnell, Iowa in 1876. In 1909 the Spaulding Manufacturing Company added automobiles to its production line. At one time, the factory was the largest employer in the county. Spaulding automobiles were known for their quality construction from rugged materials. Automobile production ceased at the Spaulding factory in 1916 when it could no longer compete with the cheaper Ford automobile. The Spaulding factory site will soon become home to the Spaulding Center for Transportation/Iowa Transportation Museum.


Grinnell is located at 41°44′37″N 92°43′29″W / 41.74361°N 92.72472°W / 41.74361; -92.72472 (41.743750, -92.724742).[4]

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