Remsen, Iowa

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Remsen is a city in Plymouth County, Iowa, United States. The population was 1,762 at the 2000 census.



Remsen was named for Dr. William Remsen Smith, a pioneer Sioux City physician who became an extensive landowner in the area. Dr. Smith had a good friend who suggested the name Smithville, but Dr. Smith thought that there were too many Smiths in the world, and instead chose to name the town after his middle name.

Remsen was platted by the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Town Land and Lot Company August 28, 1876, and was incorporated in the spring of 1889. The population in 1885 was given at 650, of which 400 were American born.

Remsen was settled by mostly Luxembourg immigrants. Plagued by religious persecution, unwelcome Prussian military conscription and economic limitations, the early immigrants left their native land to start a new life in the land of opportunity now called Remsen.

Remsen citizens retained their Luxembourg traditions of deep religious faith, and loyal, energetic, hard working, and fun loving style. At the same time they contributed to their share in the building and development of America and were quick to respond whenever Uncle Sam called on his citizens for a service, always eager to do something for the land which gave them the opportunity to raise their families as free and independent American citizens.

These early independent settlers and their neighbors of German, Irish, and Scandinavian decent, developed this area into one of the most beautiful and prosperous areas in the state of Iowa.


Remsen is very unusual for its small size having two K-12 school systems: Remsen-Union Public School and Remsen St. Mary's.


During Prohibition, Remsen was a major player in the brewing, transporting, and sale of illegal alcohol. Its location adjacent to larger midwestern cities and the amount of farmland between homes made it a perfect area to make moonshine. Much of the moonshine produced ended up in one of two other Iowa cities: Sioux City or Pocahontas.


Remsen is located at 42°48′47″N 95°58′18″W / 42.81306°N 95.97167°W / 42.81306; -95.97167 (42.813118, -95.971673).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.1 square miles (2.7 km²), all of it land.

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