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Elkader, Iowa
Downtown Elkader.jpg
Keystone of NE Iowa
Location of Elkader, Iowa
Location of Elkader, Iowa
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Clayton
 • Total 1.37 sq mi (3.54 km2)
 • Land 1.37 sq mi (3.54 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
732 ft (223 m)
 • Total 1,209
 • Density 884.42/sq mi (341.39/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 563
FIPS code 19-24690
GNIS feature ID 0456303

Elkader is a city in Clayton County, Iowa, United States. The population was 1,209 at the time of the 2020 census, down from 1,465 in 2000. It is the county seat of Clayton County. It is the site of Iowa's lowest recorded minimum temperature, −44 °C (−47 °F) on February 3, 1996.


The city is named after Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri. When the community was platted in 1846, the founders, Timothy Davis, John Thompson, and Chester Sage decided to name it for the young Algerian who was leading his people in resisting the French colonial takeover of Algeria.

Elkader Keystone Bridge
Elkader Keystone Bridge is listed on the NRHP

The town is known for its bridge over the Turkey River, said to be the largest stone arch bridge west of the Mississippi. It, and many of the local buildings, are made from locally quarried sandstone. The town's grocery store, Wilke's, is the oldest continuously operated grocery store west of the Mississippi, as well. Elkader also features a renovated Victorian-era opera house, and the Turkey River Mall, a 29-room hotel converted into antique stores.

The town featured in a WAMU World View documentary; "Couscous and cultural diplomacy". It is a documentary which focuses on an openly gay couple, who settled in Elkader, and opened an Algerian-American restaurant. One of the couple is Algerian. The documentary describes how the couple have largely been accepted as part of the community yet wrestle with cultural adaptation, American identity, and small town politics, as well as many of the personal issues they experienced post 9/11.

The city was one of many in Iowa affected by the Iowa Flood of 2008, with flood waters from the Turkey River reaching historic levels.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.39 square miles (3.60 km2), all land. The lowest ever temperature of Iowa, −47 °F (−44 °C) was recorded here on February 3, 1996.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1860 440 —    
1870 697 +58.4%
1880 851 +22.1%
1890 745 −12.5%
1900 1,321 +77.3%
1910 1,181 −10.6%
1920 1,223 +3.6%
1930 1,382 +13.0%
1940 1,556 +12.6%
1950 1,584 +1.8%
1960 1,526 −3.7%
1970 1,592 +4.3%
1980 1,688 +6.0%
1990 1,510 −10.5%
2000 1,465 −3.0%
2010 1,273 −13.1%
2020 1,209 −5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
The population of Elkader, Iowa from US census data

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 1,273 people, 577 households, and 342 families living in the city. The population density was 915.8 inhabitants per square mile (353.6/km2). There were 627 housing units at an average density of 451.1 per square mile (174.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.7% White, 0.1% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% Asian, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.3%.

Of the 577 households 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.7% were non-families. 35.7% of households were one person and 16.8% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.73.

The median age was 49.8 years. 18.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19% were from 25 to 44; 32.4% were from 45 to 64; and 24.4% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.2% male and 53.8% female.

Sister city

Elkader has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:


The municipality is within the boundary of the Central Community School District.

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Elkader (Iowa) para niños

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