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 WPA Mural  in Knoxville, IA Post Office:  "Pioneer Group at the Red Rock Line - 1845"

 WPA Mural  in Knoxville, IA Post Office:  "Pioneer Group at the Red Rock Line - 1845"

by Marvin Beerbohm (1941) - oil on canvas.

Between 1843 and 1845, pioneer settlers were not allowed west of the "Red Rock Line" created by the 1842 Sac or Sauk/Fox Indian Treaty Line. Iowa did not become a state until Dec. 28, 1846 when it became the 29th state. The old pioneer town of Red Rock, Iowa  was on the Des Moines River, and was named for the red sandstone of the nearby bluffs along the Des Moines River, which was later quarried in places.

The "Red Rock Line" 1842 Treaty boundary was located near Red Rock, Iowa in Marion County, Iowa. The boundary location marking Indian Territory was probably well known by everyone in that area after the 1842 Treaty. As noted in the Treaty, the line ran on the south side of the Des Moines River at the White Breast river fork into the Des Moines River, directly north through the "Red Rocks" on the northern bluffs of the Des Moines River. This is the present day location of the "Red Rock" Cemetery on the north bluff.

Early Towns Below the City of Des Moines

Red Rock, the earliest of the (Des Moines River) Greenbelt towns (1843), has previously been noted as an important Indian meeting place, for its historic Red Rock Line as related to the New Purchase of 1842, and for its notorious trading posts.

Following the removal of the Sac and Fox Indians and the consequent end of the trading posts, Red Rock settled down as a much quieter town. Settlers came from Ohio and Kentucky, and other states, and their descendants continued to live in Red Rock through the 120 years of its existence. The town came to include sawmills, a flour mill, two general stores, a doctor, a hotel, a schoolhouse built in 1854, a Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1855, and a post office. By 1870, it had a population of 250.....

.......The scourge of Red Rock was periodic flooding.....When the steamboats came after the flood of 1851, Red Rock had high hopes of becoming an important river port, but once again it suffered bitter disappointment. The steamboats stopped instead at nearby Coalport where a great meander in the river proved a better landing place..... Read full text about Red Rock and the Des Moines River from source:

The town of Red Rock, Iowa came to an end in 1968/1969 when it was flooded over by the creation of the Red Rock Dam and Lake - built by the Army Corps of Engineers as a flood and erosion control reservoir. It became Iowa's largest lake when filled. The pioneer town of Red Rock's old location would be visible looking west from the highway while crossing the present day "Mile Long Bridge" on Highway 14 between Monroe and Knoxville, Iowa.   

Treaty With The Sauk And Foxes: October 11, 1842.

Articles of a treaty made and concluded at the agency of the Sac and Fox Indians in the Territory of Iowa, between the United States of America, by John Chambers their commissioner thereto specially authorized by the President, and the confederated tribes of Sac and Fox Indians represented by their chiefs, headmen and braves:

Article 1. THE confederated tribes of Sacs and Foxes cede to the United States, forever, all the lands west of the Mississippi river, to which they have any claim or title, or in which they have any interest whatever; reserving a right to occupy for the term of three years from the time of signing this treaty, all that part of the land hereby ceded which lies west of a line running due north and south from the painted or red rocks on the White Breast fork of the Des Moines river, which rocks will be found about eight miles, when reduced to a straight line, from the junction of the White Breast with the Des Moines.......

Steamboat Bertrand

The 1865-era sternwheeler Bertrand was discovered on the DeSoto Bend refuge in 1968 on the Missouri River, and unearthed the following year.

1865-era sternwheeler Bertrand was discovered on the DeSoto Bend refuge in 1968

Mile-Long-Bridge. Town of Red Rock was located about one-mile west of Mile-Long-Bridge near the original channel of the Des Moines River. Town was flooded in 1968 when Corps of Engineers completed the Red Rock Dam.

Mile-Long-Bridge. Town of Red Rock was located about one-mile west of Mile-Long-Bridge

Red Rock, Iowa Cemetery, high on a bluff north of mile-long-bridge between Monroe and Knoxville, Iowa, the River (lake) can be viewed from the area.

Red Rock, Iowa Cemetery, near mile-long-bridge between Monroe and Knoxville, Iowa.


Red Rock, Iowa came to an end in 1968/1969 with the creation of the Red Rock Dam and Lake. The Red Rock Dam and resulting Red Rock lake were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a flood and erosion control reservoir and became Iowa's largest body of water when filled.


Old Des Moines River Bridge near town of Red Rock, Iowa, in Marion County, Iowa.

Old Des Moines River Bridge near town of Red Rock, Iowa, in Marion County, Iowa. Red Rock, Iowa came to an end in 1968/1969 with the creation of the Red Rock Dam and Lake. The Red Rock Dam and resulting Red Rock lake were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a flood and erosion control reservoir and became Iowa's largest body of water when filled.

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