The Iowa Great Lakes region was originally settled in the 1850s. Early pioneers were attracted by the area’s rich soils, abundant water, fish and wild game.
With the increased population came the need to establish a flouring mill, but an attempt to build one on Mill Creek was thwarted by low water levels and the Indian raid of 1862. In 1868 and 1869, however, the settlers succeeded in establishing both flouring & saw mills. The community that sprang up around these mills came to be known as Old Town.
In 1870, the company that operated the mill purchased a piece of land northwest of Old Town, and soon began planning for the town of Milford. The newly constructed railroad passed through Milford, adding to its economic viability. Population & commerce continued to thrive. The first town council meeting was held on March 14, 1892.
The average high temperature in the area is 84 degrees Fahrenheit in July and average low of 5 degrees in January. Precipitation is an average of 2.64 inches a month. The annual snowfall average is 32 inches.
Local students can attend classes at Okoboji Community High School and Okoboji Community Elementary School. The middle school is located in nearby Arnolds Park. A total of seven universities can be found within a two-hour drive of town.
Our community is also served by Milford Memorial Library and Lakes Regional Healthcare. There are three public airports in the area.
Vacationers and anglers flock to the Iowa Great Lakes each year. The summer population of Dickinson County routinely swells to 100,000. The region’s three principal bodies of water are Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake and East Okoboji Lake. This triumvirate represents the three largest natural lakes in the state, the most formidable of which, Big Spirit Lake, spans 5,684 acres. Over a dozen other lakes can also be found in the area.
Of course, one can’t speak of the Iowa Great Lakes without mentioning the University of Okoboji. Three brothers who called themselves “The Three Sons” created this institution in the early ‘70s, but despite the ongoing sales of t-shirts and decals, this place of higher learning exists in a purely allegorical sense. Numerous sporting, social and fundraising events are now held in the name of the mythical university.
The Dickinson County Bike trail was built in 1990 on the old railroad bed. The trail begins in Milford and offers riders scenic views of the lakes as it passes through Arnolds Park and Okoboji en route to Spirit Lake.
Horseshoe Bend Park is located about seven miles southwest of Milford and is named for the bend in the Little Sioux River. The park occupies the north & south banks. It offers a picnic shelter, walking trails and even a lift for skiing and winter sports.
Other area attractions include Arnolds Park Amusement Park, the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum, the Little Swan Lake Winery and much more.
Be sure to drop by our United Country office in Milford. Let us give you the Okoboji “campus tour.”