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Mason City
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The Mason City Destination is located in the top part of Iowa, connected to the Minnesota state border. The region is home to many lakes, including Rice Lake, Pilot Knob Lake, Clark Lake, and the most popular one being Clear Lake. The area was initially inhabited by the Winnebago and Sioux Indian tribes but was later claimed by the Europeans as they expanded westward in the 1800s. John Long and John Bilford were some of the colonists who entered the area and changed the original name of Shibboleth to Masonic Grove. The name was later changed to Masonville, though that name already existed elsewhere nearby so the name finally settled on Mason City.[1] The destination has since grown and now has many popular attractions for visitors. Such sites include Stockman House Museum, Historic Park Inn Hotel, Music Man Square, Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Lime Creek Nature Center, Rock Glen Historic District, and East Park.[2] The area is also home to the tragic site where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson were killed in a plane crash after performing at Clear Lake. They were American rock and roll musicians, and their story is now told in the popular song “American Pie” written by Don McLean. The day they died is now referred to as “The day the music died.” [3]

What Mason City is known for

The Mason City Destination is located in Iowa, covering the Cerro Gordo County, founded in 1851. The name of the county was given after the Battle of Cerro Gordo.[4] Mason City itself was initially named Shibboleth but later changed by John Long in 1853. He first called the densely wooded region Masonic Grove to honor the Order of Freemasons. Soon after Long’s son, Mason, died, he renamed the town Masonville in honor of his son. They later discovered another city named Masonville, soon after the city was given its fourth name of Mason City. The area is also often referred to as the “River City” because of the musical story River City, written by Meredith Wilson.[1]  The city now has a current population of 27,309 people.[4]

The region is highly diversified in the industries that drive the economy. Specifically, the Mason Destination manufactures wood products, processed foods, ice machines, and rubber gaskets.[5] The state of Iowa ranks first in the nation for ethanol production, second in biodiesel, and third in wind generation output.[1] The culture and atmosphere of the area are attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright, Meredith Wilson, and Bil Baird, who influenced the attractions and history. Bil Baird is one of America’s premier puppet masters who created over 500 marionettes and puppets that are still located in Mason City. One of the only two American electric freight railways runs through the destination— the Iowa Traction Railway.[6]

Mason City Destination has multiple attractions that are big draws to tourists each year. The Stockman House Museum was designed by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright and showcased his work to visitors. It was built in 1908 and was the first Wright-designed prairie school-styled structure in the state. The Historic Park Inn Hotel is another Wright-designed building and specifically shows off his architectural details. Other attractions include the Music Man Square, Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Lime Creek Nature Center, Rock Crest Historic District, East Park, Northwestern Steakhouse, and Decker House.[2] Overall, the destination provides opportunities for various activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting. These activities often occur at Grover’s Meadow, Ingebretson Park, Claybanks Forest, and Mallard Marsh.[7] It’s recommended that visitors to the destination consider the different seasons throughout the year. The best time to visit the Mason City Destination is from June to early September when there is warmer weather.[8]


The Mason City Destination is located at the top part of Iowa, connecting to the Minnesota border. It’s 135 miles south of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and 120 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa.[5] The region’s most popular city is Mason City, but it is also home to Sheffield, Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, Emmetsburg, and Lake Mills. Lakes in the region include Rice Lake, Pilot Knob Lake, Clark Lake, and the most popular one is Clear Lake. Clear Lake is Iowa’s third-largest lake, featuring a beach and being a popular site for boating, skiing, fishing, and swimming. Typical fish found in these lakes are walleye, yellow bass, largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, and musky. [1] Typical fauna in the Mason City Destination include deer, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, river otters, chipmunks, and wild turkey. The flora consists of ash, hickory, elm, and red cedar trees.[5]

The climate of the Mason City Destination differs from season to season. The summer months are found to belong and warm/wet, while the winters are freezing with snow and wind. Overall, it is partly cloudy year-round. The warm season on average, lasts about four months with an average high temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the cold season lasts three months, with the average temperature below 37 degrees Fahrenheit. The wetter season in the region is from April to September, with each day having an average 27% chance of rain. December averages four and a half inches of snow. It is highly recommended that visitors consider planning their travels between June and September when the weather is warmer and provides more opportunities to enjoy the outdoor activities that the area has to offer.[8]


The Mason City Destination was first home to the Winnebago and Sioux Indian tribes but was later claimed by the Europeans as they expanded westward in the 1800s. John Long and John Bilford were the ones to claim the land’s timber resources, settling along the Winnebago River. John Long named the area from Shibboleth to the Masonic Grove to honor the Order of Freemasons but later renamed it to Masonville after his son died. Although the name didn’t last much longer since there was already another city named Masonville, the city’s official name eventually became Mason City. Fort Dodge and Mason City established a railroad line through the area in 1866, which opened the doors for the region to expand and grow. The area soon became a prominent retail and manufacturing center, primarily through The Brick and Tile Company and the Northwestern State Portland Cement Plant in 1906. During this same time, Frank Lloyd Wright came to the city and left his architectural work behind in newly built buildings. The last remaining hotel constructed and designed by Wright is the Park Inn Hotel, located in Mason City.[1]

A historical treasure to the region is the First National Bank, known as City Center. The bank was robbed by John Dillinger and his gang, who was notorious for robbing banks in the midwest and destroying foreclosure records, which saved many farmers in the area that were still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. Another favorite aspect of the destination is the musical story River City. Mason City is the town in Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. Mason City now has an area designated to honor this production in their Music Man Square, where Wilson’s memorabilia and a replica of the original movie are displayed for tourists to see.[1] Clear Lake area was the location of the tragedy behind the popular American song, “American Pie.” On February 3, 1959, the musician’s Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson were killed in a plane crash after performing at Clear Lake. The event was later called “The day the music died.” [3]

The region has grown immensely in size and through the economy since it was first established by John Long and John Bilford in the 1800s. The population now sits at 27,309 people and continues to slowly but steadily grow.[4] The economy has seen tremendous growth and diversification through the addition of railroads in the region. The industries that have been established in the zone include manufacturing wood products, processed foods, ice machines, and rubber gaskets.[5]

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Just outside of the town of Forest City, Iowa, one can find Three Fingers Campground. The 75-acre property features a 20-acre lake that guests are welcome to swim, boat, and fish on, as well as 118 RV sites and a cabin. Each of the RV sites offers full 50-amp hookups, a fire ring, a picnic table, and a cement pad. Depending on the site reserved, the space may be either back-in or pull-through. It should be noted that 9 of the 118 sites are designated as short-term rentals for patrons staying overnight or for a couple of weeks at a time. The cabin comes fully furnished with a bedroom, kitchen, living area, and patio. Denise, one of the owners, hopes that guests will feel welcome during their stay. There are a number of varied local attractions that people staying at the park usually visit, including the Winnebago factory and the state parks and conservation areas in the region.

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