A large crowd attended the dedication of the new post office in the Howard County town of Elma on October 2, 1960. The ceremony included a performance from the high school band and choir, a flag-raising ceremony conducted by the Boy Scouts, and a unison Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner. The brick and glass building was significant upgrade from the old facility, featuring more floor space, 264 lock boxes, air conditioning, and the latest postal equipment.
The City Hall in the Howard County town of Elma was constructed at the base of the water tower in the 1910s. The building’s basement houses the pump for the water tower well, and once was used as the city jail. The steps were added in 1969, replacing a ramp that used to lead to a garage door and the local city fire truck. The city hall continues to serve as the location for monthly council meetings, but most city business takes place in a separate office.
When the Howard County town of Elma was established in 1886, water facilities consisted of private wells and cisterns. In 1914, a contract was signed with Des Moines Bridge & Iron Company for the construction of a water works system and tower for Elma. The 50,000 gallon tank sits on an 100-foot-tall steel trestle; a new well was connected to the tower in 1943.
The red brick Howard County Courthouse in Cresco dates to 1880, constructed at a cost of under $7,000. By 1938, portions of the building had been condemned, but a proposal to construct a new courthouse facility was soundly defeated. Another proposal to build a new courthouse was voted down in 1955, but in 1964, voters approved a $60,000 bond issue to extend the courthouse with additions to the north and south of the existing building. The Howard County Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
The pictured railroad depot in the Howard County town of Elma was constructed in 1901, after a fire destroyed the community’s original station along the Chicago and Great Western Railway. As the twentieth century progressed and railroad prominence declined, Elma saw the last passenger train stop at the depot on April 28, 1962. The depot remained open for freight travel purposes until 1971, when several depots were closed in favor of a centralized location in New Hampton. A decade later, freight trains were discontinued on the line, and track was removed in April 1982.
After sitting vacant for over ten years, resident Kenny Stevenson initiated the restoration of the historic Elma depot. The depot now serves as a museum highlighting rail travel in Elma and other local artifacts. It’s operated by the Elma Museum Board and open weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day.