The Cherokee Public Library was organized by a group of twelve local women in 1886 and officially operated out of a permanent space in 1898. By January 1903, Cherokee had received confirmation of a $10,000 grant awarded by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. The grant was increased by $2,000 the following year, and the new building was formally dedicated and opened in April 1905. A significant expansion project added two floors to the rear of the building in October 1998. The library is open six days a week to serve residents in Cherokee and the surrounding area.
Cherokee was chosen as the town seat of Cherokee County in northwest Iowa in 1861. By 1864, the county’s first courthouse was erected in Cherokee, a square, frame building constructed from local black walnut logs. As the building aged and more space was needed, the initial proposal to construct a new courthouse failed on the ballot in 1881. The vote was favorable 10 years later and the second courthouse, constructed with brick, limestone, granite, and slate, was completed in 1892. This Romanesque-style building was torn down in early 1965 to allow construction of a modern, split-level courthouse for Cherokee County. Construction on the $500,000 facility was complete in October 1966.
The Cherokee County community of Washta was first home to a post office location in May 1868 and was formally incorporated twenty-two years later when railroad service was established. The Washta Post Office facilities are located within the former Farmer’s State Bank building, which was rebuilt in 1918 following a devastating fire that destroyed many of the businesses along the community’s main street.
Washta’s welcome sign celebrates it is the “Coldest Spot in Iowa,” to recognize the -47 degree temperature that was recorded in the town on January 12, 1912. Washta is home to 282 residents.
These welcome signs are located along State Highway 3 on the edge of the community of Meriden in Cherokee County. Now home to 184 residents, the community’s origins can be traced to December 1869 when railroad construction from Sioux City stopped there for the winter. A small grocery store business grew into a town, originally called Hazard, one of several area communities named for early settler John Blair. According to the WPA Guide to 1930s Iowa, “townspeople had no love for Mr. Blair” and the town was renamed Meriden in 1878. No evidence remains as to why the Meriden name was chosen.
With just 149 residents as of the 2000 census, Larrabee is the smallest community in Cherokee County in northwest Iowa. The community was incorporated in 1887 and named for the state’s thirteenth governor, William Larrabee. The Community Center is located along Main Street in Larrabee and serves as the meeting place for local organizations including Boy Scouts, the Larrabee Leisure Club, and the local Summer Reading Program, sponsored by the Cherokee Public Library. Adjacent to the community center building is the Larrabee City Park.