DescriptionNamed for a Sac/Fox Indian chief, Keokuk is known for the great dam that stretches across the Mississippi River. When completed in 1913, the Keokuk Dam and Powerhouse was a noted hydroelectric power station.
Native Americans called this place Puck-e-she-tuck, meaning “where the water runs shallow” or “at the foot of the rapids.” Because of its position at the foot of the Des Moines rapids, steamboats were unable to go beyond this point. All passengers and freight were unloaded and carried by barge over the rapids or transported on land. When rivers were the main means of transportation, it was the “gate city” not only for Iowa but also for the North and West.
Mark Twain lived and worked briefly in Keokuk; one of the oldest portraits of the author can be found in the Keokuk Public Library. The home of Samuel Freeman Miller, who served as Iowa's first U.S. Supreme Court justice 1862-90, is 3.5 blocks northeast on Fifth Street. The house is maintained as a museum.
One of Keokuk's early bridges across the Mississippi River has become a public observation deck on which people picnic and watch riverboats making their way through the locks. During winter bald eagles perch in trees along the Mississippi River and pluck fish from the currents; the bridge and Victory Park are good observation points.
Congress designated Keokuk National Cemetery one of the original 12 national cemeteries at the same time as Arlington. Both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried there.
Visitor InfoKeokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau 428 Main St. KEOKUK, IA 52632. Phone:(319)524-5599
Things to SeeGeorge M. Verity Riverboat Museum