Ottumwa, Iowa
Template:Location mapLocation of Ottumwa in the state of Iowa.
Template:Location mapLocation of Ottumwa in the state of Iowa.
Coordinates: Template:Coord/input/dec
State Template:Country data Iowa
County Wapello
 • Type Mayor/Council
 • Mayor Tom Lazio
Area Template:Infobox settlement/areadisp
 • Land Template:Infobox settlement/areadisp
 • Water Template:Infobox settlement/areadisp
Elevation Template:Infobox settlement/lengthdisp
Population (2010)
 • Total 25,023
 • Estimate (2013) 24,840
 • Rank 20th in Iowa
 • Density Template:Infobox settlement/impus
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 52501
Area code(s) 641
FIPS code 19-60465
GNIS feature ID 0459952

Ottumwa is a city in and the county seat of Wapello County, Iowa, United States. The population was 25,023 at the 2010 census. Located in southeastern Iowa, the city is split into northern and southern halves by the Des Moines River.

History[edit | edit source]

The young town was severely damaged during the Flood of 1851.

In 1857, coal was being mined from the McCready bank, a site along Bear Creek four miles west of Ottumwa. In 1868, Brown and Godfrey opened a drift mine four miles northwest of town. By 1872, Brown and Godfrey employed 300 men and had an annual production of 77,000 tons. In 1880, the Phillips Coal and Mining Company opened a coal mine two miles northwest of town. In subsequent years, they opened 5 more shafts in the Phillips and Rutledge neighborhoods, just north of Ottumwa. The Phillips number 5 shaft was 140 feet deep, with a 375 horse power steam hoist. By 1889, the state mine inspector’s report listed 15 mine shafts in Ottumwa. In 1914, the Phillips Fuel Company produced over 100,000 tons of coal, ranking among the top 24 coal producers in the state.

Coal mining was so important to the local economy that, from 1890 to 1892, the Coal Palace was erected in Ottumwa as an exhibition center.

John Morrell & Company played a significant role in the development of the City of Ottumwa from 1877 to 1973. The complex typified meat packing as it developed in the midwest during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

Presidential visits[edit | edit source]

Because of the Iowa caucuses, Ottumwa is no stranger to visits by presidential hopefuls. On five occasions a sitting U.S. President has visited the Bridge City.

  • Benjamin Harrison was the first, in 1890, touring the Coal Palace and then speaking to a crowd of over 40,000 people.
  • In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt made a brief stop while on a train trip around America.
  • President Harry Truman spent part of his 66th birthday, May 8, 1950, in Ottumwa while on a 16-state train trip in support of his Fair Deal program.
  • In July 1971, President Richard Nixon arrived in Air Force One at the Ottumwa Industrial Airport on his way to dedicate the nearby Rathbun Lake dam and reservoir.
  • On April 27, 2010 President Barack Obama spoke to a large crowd at the Hellyer Student Center on the campus of Indian Hills Community College. After the speech the president held a question and answer session.
  • In September 2012 Vice President Joe Biden made a campaign stop in Ottumwa, where he spoke at the Bridgeview Center.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Ottumwa's longitude and latitude coordinates in decimal form are 41.012917, −92.414817.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Template:Convert/sqmiTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/, of which, Template:Convert/sqmiTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ is land and Template:Convert/sqmiTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ is water.

Northeastern Wapello County contains large deposits of coal, and there are also large deposits of clay in the region, which played an important role in the industrial development of Ottumwa.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Template:US Census population

2010 census[edit | edit source]

As of the census of 2010, there were 25,023 people, 10,251 households, and 6,208 families residing in the city. The population density was Template:Convert/PD/sqmiTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/. There were 11,257 housing units at an average density of Template:Convert//sqmiTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/. The racial makeup of the city was 90.2% White, 11.3% Hispanic or Latino, 1.9% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races.

There were 10,251 households of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.1% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.4% were non-families. 32.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.97.

The median age in the city was 37.4 years. 23.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.8% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 16% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census[edit | edit source]

As of the census of 2000, there were 24,998 people, 10,383 households, and 6,530 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,582.2 people per square mile (610.9/km²). There were 11,038 housing units at an average density of 698.6 per square mile (269.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.33% White, 1.27% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.78% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.38% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.76% of the population.

There were 10,383 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.1% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.88.

Age spread: 22.9% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,174, and the median income for a family was $37,302. Males had a median income of $31,222 versus $20,934 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,040. About 10.9% of families and 15.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture[edit | edit source]

"Video Game Capital of the World"[edit | edit source]

As the home of Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa was proclaimed the "Video Game Capital of the World" by a mayoral decree issued on November 30, 1982, by Ottumwa Mayor Jerry Parker. In connection with this proclamation, the city hosted the first North American Video Olympics in the fall of 1982. In 2009, the city council and chamber of commerce authorized a steering committee to plan out the International Video Game Hall of Fame museum, which, while not yet built, has inducted several video game industry professionals, developers and designers, and high-scoring players into the Hall of Fame.

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

  • Cpl. "Radar" O'Reilly – Company clerk from M*A*S*H television series and books was from Ottumwa, Iowa. The town is mentioned as Radar's hometown in the novel and regularly on the show. The character was based on Don Shaffer, a veteran who is from Ottumwa.
  • The movie The Tuskegee Airmen featured the character Hannibal "Iowa" Lee Jr. (played by Laurence Fishburne), who claimed Ottumwa as his hometown.
  • The television movie The Woman Who Loved Elvis starring Rosanne Barr (then the wife of Ottumwa native Tom Arnold) was partially filmed in Ottumwa.
  • In the sitcom Roseanne, Roseanne Connor’s restaurant, the Lanford Lunch Box, was based on the Canteen Lunch in the Alley, in central downtown Ottumwa, which has been a stopping point for Ottumwans since the 1920s. Many famous patrons have been seen eating a "Canteen", a loose meat sandwich similar to a Maid-Rite.
  • Pansy Bump – a character in the Nero Wolfe novel Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout was from Ottumwa

Education[edit | edit source]

Ottumwa High School is part of the Ottumwa public school system.

Higher education

Ottumwa is the home of Indian Hills Community College, a two-year community college. Between 1928 and 1980, it was also home to Ottumwa Heights College, a women's college that merged with Indian Hills in 1979 to create one institution. Indian Hills is located at the former Ottumwa Heights campus.

Economy[edit | edit source]

Top employers[edit | edit source]

According to Ottumwa's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city were:

# Employer # of Employees
1 JBS Swift & Co. 2,400
2 John Deere Ottumwa Works 940
3 Ottumwa Regional Health Center 750
4 Ottumwa Community School District 616
5 Hy-Vee 426
6 Walmart 364
7 Indian Hills Community College 322
8 City of Ottumwa 263
9 Winger Contracting Company 242
10 Dr Pepper Snapple Group 199

Media[edit | edit source]

Paired with Kirksville, Missouri, Ottumwa is a media market region, ranked #199 by Nielsen.

Radio[edit | edit source]

Frequency Power in watts Call sign Nickname Format Owner Web site Notes
1240 AM 1000 KBIZ Your news and information leader News/Talk O-Town Communications [1]
102.7 FM KBIZ Your News and Information Leader News/Talk O-Town Communications [2] Simulcast of AM signal.
740 AM 229 day, 10 night KMZN Hot Country 740 Country music *simulcast with KBOE FM Jomast Corporation [3]
1480 AM 250 day, 17 night KLEE Good time oldies Oldies O-Town Communications [4] Klee was sold by FMC Broadcasting to O-town Communications on December 24, 2013
107.7 FM KLEE Good Time Oldies Oldies O-Town Communications [5] Simulcast of AM signal.
104.9 FM 50,000 KBOE Hot Country 104.9 Country music Jomast Corporation [6]
105.3 FM 34,000 KEDB Iowa's true oldies channel Oldies Honey Creek Broadcasting
96.7 FM 10,000 KIIC Thunder Country Classic country Waveguide Communications, Inc. [7]
101.5 FM 49,000 KKSI 101.5 Kiss FM Classic rock O-Town Communications [8]
98.7 FM 100,000 KMGO Iowa's Country. 98.7 KMGO Country music KMGO Inc. [9]
97.7 FM 19,000 KOTM 97.7 Tom FM Top 40 (CHR) O-Town Communications [10] Kotm was sold by FMC Broadcasting to O-town Communications on December 24, 2013
104.3 FM 23,500 KRKN New Country 104.3 Country music O-Town Communications [11]
92.7 FM 50,000 KTWA Today's hits & yesterdays favorites Adult contemporary O-Town Communications [12]
91.1 FM 1,450 KICW Classical music / Iowa Public Radio University of Northern Iowa

*Some radio stations licensed to other nearby cities.

Television stations[edit | edit source]

  • KTVO 3.1 Local ABC affiliate
  • KYOU-TV 15 Local FOX affiliate (also on translator channel 25, K25DE)
  • KTVO-DT2 3.2 Local CBS affiliate
  • K18GU-D 18 Translator of KIIN Iowa City, a PBS and IPTV affiliate

Print[edit | edit source]

The Ottumwa Courier is the primary daily newspaper,

Online[edit | edit source]

The Ottumwa Post

Infrastructure[edit | edit source]

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to the Ottumwa Amtrak station, operating its California Zephyr daily in both directions between Chicago, Illinois, and Emeryville, California, across the San Francisco Bay from San Francisco.

Ottumwa Transit Authority operates bus services throughout the Ottumwa area. The fixed-route system includes five routes and a shopping shuttle. It also operates a para-transit service known as Ottumwa Transit Authority Lift and Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC), a dial-a-ride service geared towards employees. The five routes that operate Monday through Friday are: #1 North, #2 East West, #3 South Residential, #4 South Commercial, and #7 Airport. There are also two routes that operate on Saturday only; no routes operate on Sunday.

10–15 Regional Transit Agency provides a regional dial-a-ride service throughout Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Lucas, Mahaska, Monroe, Van Buren, Wapello and Wayne counties.

Currently, U.S. Route 34 and Iowa Highway 149 serve the town, replacing a former segment of U.S. Highway 63. Route 63 now bypasses the town as part of the Burlington to Des Moines expressway. The Jefferson Street Viaduct over the Des Moines River is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Railroads[edit | edit source]

The BNSF Railway has tracks through Ottumwa. This is a major corridor in the Chicago-Omaha line that is double track, and western coal makes up a large percentage of the freight carried on this line. The BNSF tracks travel under U.S. Highway 34, pass through the business district, under the U.S. Highway 63 bridge, cross the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad tracks at grade, exit Ottumwa, and later cross over the Des Moines River on their way to Albia, Iowa, and later Omaha, Nebraska.

The Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railway was acquired by the Canadian Pacific in 2008. Ottumwa is located on the Davenport, Iowa, to Kansas City, Mo. line and is a crew change point.

The Norfolk Southern Railway has trackage rights over the BNSF through Ottumwa.

Historic preservation[edit | edit source]

Ottumwa has many historic structures as well as several historic districts that are listed on the National Register. The city has an active Historic Preservation Commission that has worked to preserve some of the most important structures in the community since 1989. The following structures and districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic districts[edit | edit source]

Historic structures[edit | edit source]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

Fictional people[edit | edit source]

  • Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly – fictional character from the book, movie, and series M*A*S*H

Namesake[edit | edit source]

  • The U.S. Navy harbor tug USS Ottumwa (YTB-761) was named for the city.

External links[edit | edit source]

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