High Water and High Hopes for Picturesque Hardin County
Eldora Pine Creek State Park and Buckeye
On April 26, 1919, county officials took first steps to create Eldora Pine Creek State Park. The following year the new State Board of Conservation recommended to the Executive Council the purchase of 200 acres of land so that, “if feasible,” the county could “make an artificial lake of the Pine Creek bottom.”
The hopes for such a lake and park were realized. By 1925 L.H. Pammel was writing, “Beautiful, picturesque Pine Lake, in Hardin county, is one of the most attractive places in central Iowa. The lake covers an area of eighty acres and occupies the floodplain of Pine Creek….On the margin of the lake are paper birches and white pine intermingled with oak, hazel, ironwood, brake, Clayton, and maidenhair ferns, wood anemone, cranesbill, mandrake, aster, and goldenrods. To the north of the lake one may see tall, towering walls of the coal measure sandstone with its marginal fern, club moss, bush honeysuckle, winter green birch and white pine—truly a northern landscape set in prairie IOWA.”
Pammel writes as well of the picturesque Iowa River, noting its tributaries, Elk Run and Rock Run, in addition to Pine Creek. “Many fine springs of clear water mark the region.”
Pammel does not write about the Iowa River and its tributaries at flood stage, but the Hardin County “Flooding Information & Floodplain Development Permit” tells us that in 1918 a peak discharge of the Iowa River downstream of Eldora in Iowa City was a whopping 42,500 cubic feet per second. (In 2008, it was 41,100 cfs. with the Coralville Dam in place.) Even Buckeye, a town on Hardin County’s west side between creeks but well away from the main branch of the Iowa River, saw considerable flooding that year.
Sources: SHSI: “Eldora Pine Creek State Park: Hardin County, Iowa,” 1925; Buckeye, 2003; on-line: Flooding Information & and Floodplain Development Permit, Hardin County website, March 26, 2019.