Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


The elevation of Van Buren County ranges from about 530 feet on the Des Moines River at the Van Buren-Lee County line above Croton, to 805 feet near the Davis County line one mile north of Milton, and also at Bethel Church south of Leando. Several other points exceed 800 feet.

The Des Moines River is 590 feet above sea level at Iowaville and drops to 530 feet in the southeast corner of the county. On each side of the river, hills rise quickly to 600 and 700 feet, sometimes higher. Some of the bluffs along the river are very impressive.

Above the 530-foot river, the plain where Salubria existed is 600 feet. Farmington is 569 feet above sea level, with the hills quickly reaching 700 feet, and a height of 734 feet near the Lee County border east of the city.

At Bonaparte, the river is 540 feet, and the Bonaparte Ball Park is 554 feet. Immediately, bluffs rise to 700 feet. Lindsay Wilderness measures from 590 feet at Potters Creek to heights above the 700-foot mark. Just west of Bonaparte, the site of New Lexington is 578 feet above sea level, with the hill above reaching 643 feet.

The lowest point in Bentonsport is 562 feet, and levels range to 700 feet. Across the river, Vernon is 600-627 feet high, with the hills reaching 700 feet. Vernon Township generally has hills from 700-727 feet high.

The site of Rochester is 569 feet, and Keosauqua is 584 feet above sea level. On the south side of the Keosauqua Bridge the elevation is 597 feet and the Court House is 640 feet. Purdom Cemetery is 581 feet, Des Moines City subdivision 651 feet, and the fairgrounds 650 feet. Meanwhile, across the river the Lacey-Keosauqua Park hills and bluffs range from heights of 705 feet to 786 feet. Eli Ford is 575 feet in elevation and the hill going north rises to 640 feet and continues to 724 feet. There is a lake of Eliís Creek, not accessible by road, that is 664 feet in elevation.

The river at Pittsburg is 570 feet in elevation. Most of the village is 600 feet, with Pittsburg Hill rising to 729 feet.

The Douds Bridge is 619 feet in elevation. The river road at Douds is 600 feet, with the bluffs rising from 620 to 650 and 700 feet. On the Leando side, the cemetery is 620 feet, with the hills rising to 700 feet. Roush Cemetery near Douds is 750 feet.

The site of Business Corners north of Douds is 700 feet and ranges from the Ratcliff Coal Mines at 680 feet, to Zion Bible Church at 750 feet, with Dutch Ridge reaching heights between 750 and 800 feet in elevation.

Along the river, Iowaville was 604 feet, Black Hawk City 612 feet, and New Market 613 feet above the river, which is 590 feet. The Selma Bridge is 613 feet, and Selma ranges upward to 640 feet, with hills reaching 700 feet. Iowaville Cemetery hills range from 620-754 feet; Blackledge Cemetery 649-738 feet. A hill just north of Mathias Cemetery is 802 feet above sea level.

Inland, Stockport is 754 feet, Birmingham Cemetery 742 feet, Center Village is 700 feet, Forbes Cemetery 723 feet, Mt. Zion 720 feet, the site of Lick Creek Post Office in Section 21 of the township, 740 feet, Longview 753 feet, Winchester 750 feet, and Utica 747 feet.

Old Tug Fork, now covered by Lake Seguma was 657 feet in elevation with the hills around it rising to 729 feet. Harrisburg is 744 feet, site of Home Post Office 740 feet, Lebanon 784-790 feet, site of Mechanicsburg 773 feet, Mt. Moriah Cemetery north of Douds, 760 feet and Milton 780-803 feet high. Oak Point Cemetery is at 800 feet.

Cantril is 760 feet and just west is a crest of 780 feet. Maple Grove Cemetery is 784 feet, but the Fox River drops to 685 feet. Upton is 760-771 feet high. The lowlands near Mt. Sterling are only 538 feet above sea level, while the hill running through Mt. Sterling is 700 feet and the cemetery is 720 feet. Generally speaking the Sterling Hills are 630-720 feet in elevation.

Mountains signify lofty things, and donít necessarily refer to height above sea level. The name often was designed to identify a connection with the Lord, and holiness. Mt. Moriah, Mt. Zion and Mt. Sterling do not soar to high topographical elevations, but were considered by the pioneers to be lofty places close to God.

(Information taken from topographical maps of the Des Moines River and Van Buren County)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick