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Palisades Kepler State Park

700 Kepler Dr
Mount Vernon, IA 52314

319-895-6039

Palisades-Kepler State Park lies along the beautiful Cedar River in Linn County. The 840-acre park has dramatic river bluffs, deep ravines, majestic hardwood trees, a large variety of wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife. Palisades-Kepler State Park is also important for its prehistoric past. A molar tooth of a mammoth was once found here and the exposed rocks along the Cedar River are laden with fossils of millions of years of history. The presence of Indian mounds reminds us that this was a favorite haunt of Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

History

In the late 1890s, James Sherman Minott acquired 160 acres of timberland on the Cedar River and built a spacious inn for the accommodation of visitors. He also established a boat rental and sold lots for the building of summer cottages. Many people took advantage of this and soon the population of the area numbered over 200. Afternoon outings on the Cedar River, capped by a quiet dinner at the combined log cabin restaurant, general store, and hotel, were common in the early 1900s. Noted American poet Carl Sandburg was a yearly visitor to the "Palisades" during the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1922, Palisades-Kepler State Park was established. Much of Minot's original land had been acquired and the State Board of Conservation had taken special notice of the unique bold cliffs and proclaimed that "these palisades lining the Cedar River are quite special." In September of 1928, the Board of Conservation accepted the gift of property from the estate of Louis H. Kepler, essentially doubling the size of the park. The Board added his name to the park name. Since that time, almost 700 acres have been added to Palisades-Kepler.

In July 1934, a Civilian Conservation Corps company was established at Palisades-Kepler. Three barracks and a mess hall were built; then, work started on the building of many park facilities. The roads, hiking trails, entry portals, lodge and other timber and stone structures remain to give the park much of its rustic character. The C.C.C. camp of 200 young men closed in 1941.

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