Washta, Iowa

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Washta is a city in Cherokee County, Iowa, United States. The population was 282 at the 2000 census. It holds the distinction of being "The Coldest Spot in Iowa," having recorded a temperature of 47 degrees below zero without wind chill on January 12, 1912.

Washta's name dates back to 1868 when a local man named Whisman turned his farm into a trading post/mail stop for the freight train going from Correctionville, Iowa to Cherokee, Iowa. He was asked to be the official postmaster for the area. When asked what the name of his town would be, he recalled an interesting encounter with two Native Americans the year before. While Whisman was out hunting, the two came upon him, removed his gun, looked at it, and handed it back while saying, "Wash-tay, Wash-tay," meaning good. Changing the pronunciation slightly, Whisman decided he would call the town Washta.[1]


Washta is located at 42°34′33″N 95°43′5″W / 42.57583°N 95.71806°W / 42.57583; -95.71806 (42.575896, -95.718051)[2]. It is situated near the Little Sioux River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square miles (2.7 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 282 people, 117 households, and 69 families residing in the city. The population density was 268.5 people per square mile (103.7/km²). There were 133 housing units at an average density of 126.6/sq mi (48.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 100.00% White. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.71% of the population.

There were 117 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,673, and the median income for a family was $35,455. Males had a median income of $22,639 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,025. About 11.1% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.8% of those under the age of eighteen and 6.3% of those sixty five or over.

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