Local History & Legends

Location and Features

Muscatine is primarily located on a series of bluffs and hills at a major west-south bend in the Mississippi River. This great river bend gives the city roughly 260 degrees of riverfront and a prominence in the minds and hearts of the local residents and visitors.

History and Legends

Beginning as a trading post in 1833, the City of Muscatine was known as Casey’s Woodpile. Before becoming Muscatine, the city was known as Bloomington. There was a very practical reason for changing the city’s name, as legend goes.
Even the origin of the name “Muscatine” is a legend that is still debated today. Was it from the name of a Native American tribe that settled locally or was it derived from a Sioux term for the area? These features paint a picture of the eras of Muscatine’s past:
  • Early settlers
  • The lumber industry of days gone by
  • Native American tribes
  • Fur traders
  • Steamboat traffic in its port
  • The Underground Railroad

The entrepreneurial spirit that began that woodpile in 1833 is still very much alive today. C. Max Stanley, the Kent Family, Musco Lighting, Roy J. Carver and Stan Howe all helped shape the growth of Muscatine.

A Glimpse at Written History

Muscatine is widely known for its sunsets. The writer, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who lived in the city briefly during the summer of 1855, noted in his book Life on the Mississippi:

“And I remember Muscatine - still more pleasantly - for its summer sunsets. I have never seen any, on either side of the ocean, that equaled them. They used the broad smooth river as a canvas, and painted on it every imaginable dream of color, from the mottled daintinesses and delicacies of the opal, all the way up, through cumulative intensities, to blinding purple and crimson conflagrations which were enchanting to the eye, but sharply tried it at the same time.”

Enjoy the local history and legends of Muscatine, smile at a sunset and share Muscatine’s pride.