About Nora Springs
Nora Springs is a rural town located along the Shell Rock River in North Iowa. It is eight miles east of Mason City on Highway 122. Founded in 1857 and incorporated in 1875 it is known for its Buffalo Days celebration in the park under the old water tower. Nora Springs is located in the Central Springs Community School District.
Nora Springs is home to many businesses including an aquatic center, golf course, post office, nursing home, assisted living center, dental office, bank, restaurant, and photography studio. There are also many parks, one with a new basketball/pickle-ball court. As of 2013 there is a walking trail by the Mill Pond that leads up to the North water tower, where there is a playground and park. Our new aquatic center was finished in 2016 and is a great place to spend lazy summer days. As of December 2018 there is the new Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Shellrock River. This walking bridge connects the east and west sides of town and is a great addition to the community. Journalist Otto Knauth once wrote, "Nora Springs is the kind of town you know you'd like to live in as soon as you see it."
An Indian Legend About the Big Rock
In Nora Springs is a huge round mass of granite with a large crack on the surface. The story behind this rock was a favorite tale of the Indian.
The redmen often camped in the wooded section near the big rock. In one small tribe that often stayed in the area was an attractive maiden names Wa-we-ta who was the daughter of the tribal leader, Chief Moon-Face.
Wa-we-ta was in love with an Indian brave of a neighboring tribe called Red-Feather. However, Chief Moon-Face would not approve of his daughter's romance with Red-Feather and demanded she marry a brave within her own tribe. The Chief even made arrangements for the wedding.
The night before the ceremony Wa-we-ta slipped away from the camp and went to the big rock in the forest. The young maiden had heard her people say the rock had mystical powers because of it's large size. She told the stone of her grief and unhappiness over the wedding. All night Wa-we-ta praying to the stone but the big rock remained silent and cold. Finally, her strength exhausted, the maiden lay down by the stone to sleep.
As the first rays of light filtered through the forest, Chief Moon-Face and some braves, including Red-Feather, found Wa-te-ta. Her body was as cold and lifeless as the great stone itself.
The saddened Red-Feather pointed to the rock. A crack had developed in the boulder during the night. "See," he said, "Big Rock sorry for Indian maid."
Ever since, the Indians called the big rock at Nora Springs, "The rock with a broken heart."
Originally Nora Springs was a grove of trees high above the Shellrock river, often noted at Iowa’s “Forgotten River” as many have not heard of it. A huge boulder deposited by a retreating glacier lay in the grove and was said to have been a favorite Indian camping spot.
More than 100 springs were a natural attraction for the early white settlers, who built a dam and mill. This mill became a commercial mill and made fine “patent” flour by a process imported from Europe.
Nora Junction was the crossing of the Milwaukee and Rock Island railroad lines and was located just a short distance west of Nora Springs. This area contained a hotel, depot, grain elevator, and a few homes. As of today, there are no buildings located there.
The Naming of Nora Springs
Edward P. Greeley of Woodbridge, now Nashua, was persuaded by Edson Gaylord in 1857 to come to Woodstock, now Nora Springs. Mr. Greeley promised to buy and improve the mill, build a big store, and buy twenty acres of land from Mr. Gaylord, if the name of the town was changed from Woodstock to "Elnora," the name of his lady friend in Vermont. Edson Gaylord suggested the name "Springs." As a compromise, Edward Greeley finally agreed to name the town "Nora Springs." After returning from Vermont, rejected by his lady Mr. Greeley sold the 20 acres back to Mr. Gaylord, went to Nashua, and never came back to Nora Springs again. Edson Gaylord never revealed why "Nora," was added to "Springs," until he was about ninety years old.
45 N Hawkeye Ave
Nora Springs, IA 50458
M-F: 7:30am - Noon & 1:00pm - 4:30 pm