The first Muscatine County Courthouse was constructed of brick in 1840, three years after the county was established but six years before Iowa became a state. The courthouse was replaced by a two-story brick building in 1867, constructed at a cost of $29,000. The present building was completed in 1910 and features a limestone exterior, Corinthian columns, and an iconic clock tower. The courthouse was one of two Beaux-Arts buildings in Muscatine designed by Joseph E. Mills and Sons of Detroit.
On August 1, 1968, the Muscatine Journal reported the post office in the unincorporated Muscatine County town of Moscow received a “temporary reprieve” from closure. Several weeks prior, postmaster Diane Henderson had received an announcement that the post office would close August 2. The Journal noted citizens did not remain idle:
The fighting citizens of Moscow… were busy gathering signatures on a petition demanding the post office remain open. Over a hundred signatures were gathered and copies were sent to congressmen, senators, the postmaster general and district and regional offices of the post office.
Under the closure plan, Moscow was set to become a rural route of nearby Wilton, causing a delay in service offered daily at the post office. Considered the social center of the rural Iowa town, more than anything residents feared “if the post office closed, Moscow would cease to exist as a town and be a name only.” In the end, the closure was averted – for at least 30 years.
As of July 2011, the post office is again being considered for closure.
On June 1, 2007, a tornado twisted through the communities of Fruitland, Grandville, and Muscatine damaging or destroying more than 100 homes and businesses and causing $2.7 million dollars in damage. The Fruitland Post Office was among the buildings destroyed in the tornado, and for a while, the future of postal service in the Muscatine County town was unclear.
A town hall meeting was held September 25, 2007, during which time the U.S. Postal Service informed residents service would only resume if the city committed to rebuilding the post office in the same location where a lease agreement was in place. Moving the Post Office to a new location would require termination of the lease, resulting in formal suspension of operations that could mean a 4-5 year timetable to rebuild or even discontinuation of the Fruitland branch.
On October 9, 2007, the Muscatine Journal reported city officials were committed to rebuilding the Post Office at the same location, even if it required fundraising for building supplies and donated construction labor. A local committee was formed to manage the rebuilding process and coordinate with the U.S. Postal Service to ensure the new facility met current specifications. Nearly 30 months later, construction was complete on the new Fruitland Post Office, which officially reopened February 18, 2010. The location is open seven hours weekdays, plus two hours each Saturday.
The current Post Office in the Muscatine County community of West Liberty opened its doors to much fanfare on March 1, 1977. The new location featured more post office boxes, a larger lobby area, and a dedicated parking lot for both employees and customers. The brick post office resembled thousands of post offices opened across the country in the previous two decades. Like the other offices, the facility was built by a private construction company to lease to the U.S. Postal Service.
The Muscatine Journal noted the opening marked the first time the West Liberty Post Office occupied a new building, though it had been housed in at least eight previous locations. Postal service to West Liberty had been in place since 1838, when the first office was opened within the local general store. Immediately prior to the opening of the new location, the office was located in a downtown storefront.
A few miles outside of Muscatine, Iowa, is the Pine Creek Grist Mill, a unique attraction that allows visitors to see the inner-workings of a historic flour mill. The beautifully restored mill is over 150 years old and thought to be the oldest working mill between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.
Though it’s open to the public five days a week during the summer, you’ll get the most out of your visit by stopping on a Sunday afternoon. In addition to two scheduled mill demonstrations, the Melpine School – a restored one-room school house – is open for visitors between 1 and 4. The mill’s website has been revamped since we last visited and now features a video plus a bevy of information about the history (and future) of the revamped mill.