Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


History of Astor, Iowa

Astor from 1882 to 1934

In the early 1880's, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St Paul Railroad surveyed the southeastern part of Crawford County. Two towns developed along this railway line, Astor and Aspinwall.

One of the towns, Aspinwall, is still an active community. It serves the area farmers with a grain elevator and several other businesses. The other town, Astor, grew for a time and then, all but disappeared in a relatively short time.

The town of Astor was established July 31, 1882, by Alexander Liedlum and platted in 1882 with 13 blocks of various sizes of land that was formerly owned by Robert Theobald in Sections 33 and 34 of Nishnabotna Township. By 1884, the growing town had a school, a Methodist Church, and more than 15 homes of good size besides smaller homes and living quarters above businesses. The population of Astor at its peak was approximately 300 people who were mainly of German, Scandinavian, and Irish descent.

The business district included a depot, a flour mill, two general stores, two blacksmiths, drugstores, hardware stores, a grain elevator and flour mill, a post office, a butcher shop, a hotel, a livery stable, a restaurant, and a lumber yard.

The city of Denison recognized the importance of the town and encouraged the establishment of a road know as the "Astor Short cut", between the two towns. Later this road was referred to as the "Ridge Road".

Astor began proceedings to incorporate their town in 1886. During this time, however, the railroad officials made a decision that would end the prosperity of the thriving community. They decided to build a branch line from Sioux City to a junction two miles to the east of Astor.

The town's people realized the opportunities for growth at this junction and moved in large part to the newly platted town. The resulting community became known as Manilla. Business buildings, homes, and the Methodist Church were moved cross-county by pulling them on skids behind teams of horses. Astor was left almost abandoned.

The small village continued to exist for many years though as a center of trade for local farmers. The general store which was also the post office and grain elevator attracted nearby residents. O. A. Olson, owner of the general store was credited for sponsoring many Danish citizens as residents to the area. In 1934, the general store burned to the ground and was never rebuilt. The grain elevator built in 1909 by O A Olson still stands today and is used by the present landowner. As a town it was discontinued on August 31, 1944.

The Astor Cemetery is located one half mile south and one mile west of the former village just across the county line in Shelby County.

Sources: Jorgensen, Kathy. "Vanished Towns and Postal Stops." A History of Crawford County, Iowa. 1987, and Crawford County Preservation Commission.

Submitted by Norm Prince