Keokuk, city (1990 pop. 12,451), seat of Lee co., extreme SE Iowa, on the Mississippi River at the foot of the Des Moines River rapids and in a farm area; inc. 1847. Its industries focus on food processing and packaging (turkeys, dairy items, grain products), and metal products are manufactured. The city was named for Keokuk, a Sac tribal chief who ceded lands to settlers and who is buried beneath an impressive statue in Rand Park. Because of its location at the foot of the treacherous Des Moines River rapids, Keokuk was a transshipment stop for boats ascending the Mississippi. During the Civil War five army hospitals there served the wounded; those who did not survive were buried in the city's national cemetery, where the Unknown Soldier Monument was erected. In 1877 a ship canal (9 mi/14.5 km long) was completed around the rapids; in 1910–13 the river was dammed, creating Lake Keokuk. Mark Twain worked as a printer in Keokuk; mementos of his stay are preserved.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography