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Iowa Counties

There are ninety-nine counties in Iowa. The first two counties, Des Moines County and Dubuque County, were created in 1834 when Iowa was still part of the Michigan Territory. In preparation for Michigan's statehood, part of Michigan Territory was formed into Wisconsin Territory in 1836]. Two years later, the western portion was split off to become Iowa Territory. The south-eastern part of Iowa Territory became Iowa, the 29th state in the union, on 28 December 1846, by which point 44 Counties had been created. Counties continued to be created by the state government until 1857, when the last county, Humboldt County, was created.

Pottawattamie County, Iowa

Pottawattamie County Education, Geography, and HistoryPottawattamie County, Iowa Courthouse

Pottawattamie County is a county located in the state of Iowa. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 93,158. Pottawattamie County was created on September 21, 1848. The county seat is Council Bluffs. The county is named for the Potawatomi Native American tribe.

Pottawattamie County is included in the Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Pottawattamie County Name

Pottawattamie county is named for the Potawatomi (Pottawattamie) Native American people.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Pottawattamie County History

Modern-day Pottawattamie County evolved out of the Pottawattamie Purchase of 1847. It was named for the Indian tribe that once possessed the Iowa Territory. The name is an Indian term meaning "Blowers of Fire," "Keepers of the Council Fires," or "Makers of Fire." The county was established in 1837 and originated in 1847.

The county is the second largest in area in Iowa and has two courthouses - one in Council Bluffs and another in Avoca. However, Pottawattamie has only one county seat: Council Bluffs.

County commissioners selected Kanesville and Pleasant Grove as potential sites for the county seat and on April 7, 1851 all but seven votes were cast for Kanesville, previously known as Hart's Bluff and Miller's Hollow. It was changed to Council Bluffs in 1853.

The first real courthouse was completed in Council Bluffs in 1868. The two-story brick and stone building cost $50,000 to complete. Prior to this the county offices were housed in Hyde's New Hall.

Early in 1884, only 16 years later, there was the need for a new courthouse. The old one was unsafe and county offices lacked sufficient space. A bond issue was voted on and passed to construct a $150,000 courthouse and $30,000 jail. The winning bid came from Eckel and Mann for $136,800 and the old courthouse was sold for $3,000. County offices were then held in the Masonic Temple until the second courthouse was completed.

In December 1972 it was discovered that the 87-year-old building was sinking into the ground, at rate of about 2 inches a month. On August 22, 1973, voters approved a $2.5 million bond issue for a new county courthouse and jail. Additional funds for the $4.5 million project were obtained from the federal government.

The original town plat of Avoca was made in 1869, the same time when the railroad reached the area. The second courthouse appeared in Avoca around January 1885. This courthouse houses the offices of the county clerk, sheriff and magistrate court.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 959 square miles (2,480 km2), of which 950 square miles (2,500 km2) is land and 8.9 square miles (23 km2) (0.9%) is water.

 Pottawattamie county is located in west Iowa. This county is the second-largest county in Iowa by area.  Part of the county, Carter Lake lies on the far side of the Missouri River. This part of the county cannot be reached by road without entering Nebraska, no direct bridge exists.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: Shelby County
  • East: Cass County
  • Southeast: Montgomery County
  • South: Mills County
  • Southwest: Sarpy County, Neb.
  • West: Douglas County, Neb.
  • Northwest: Washington County, Neb.; Harrison County


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