I am a transplanted Chicago resident who currently resides in a small town in the southeast corner of Iowa known as Keokuk. Originally, the quietness of the neighborhood, the absence of panhandlers and thugs, the lack of constant wailing from police cars and fire trucks gave me a feeling of a place straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. I appreciated the geographical location where the town lays – adjoining states of Illinois and Missouri are mere miles away – and the prospective commerce the Tri – State community could bring. The major economic engine of Keokuk is manufacturing and agricultural services. Lately, there has been an exodus of manufacturing/factory closings in the area with Steel Castings being the most recent. Such an economic decline leaves the city’s residents in a state of disappointment and fear, thus preventing them from using what disposable income they have accrued on patronizing local establishments and bolstering the local economy.
This led me to begin pondering ways in which our city could lift its spirits and economy to the benefit of not only the residents, but our surrounding areas. What I discovered through research and talking with longtime residents is that Keokuk has a very rich history to be proud of. People of historical prominence ( both locally and nationally) have helped shape what the town has become. From sports, politics, art, music, people such as Howard Hughes, Bud Fowler, Ramo Stotts, Benjamin P. Alexander among others have left a unique legacy specifically for this city and region which should be a beacon to many who reside in or visit this area (Keokuk, Celebrities of Keokuk).
Learning that Keokuk has such a renowned history, I began to contemplate how our past history could be merged with the present in order to establish future opportunities for tourism and commerce. This article is just an introduction to my effort in helping our community realize the potential benefits of the rich history many have left for us and hopefully to use that knowledge to empower our citizens, businesses, and government to seek ways to enable Keokuk to prosper.
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