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Emmetsburg, Iowa facts for kids

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Emmetsburg, Iowa
Street in Emmetsburg
Street in Emmetsburg
"Home of Five Island Lake"
Location of Emmetsburg, Iowa
Location of Emmetsburg, Iowa
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Palo Alto
 • Total 3.96 sq mi (10.25 km2)
 • Land 3.79 sq mi (9.82 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.43 km2)
1,237 ft (377 m)
 • Total 3,706
 • Density 977.32/sq mi (377.30/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 712
FIPS code 19-25590
GNIS feature ID 0456375

Emmetsburg is a city in Palo Alto County, Iowa, United States. The population was 3,706 at the time of the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Palo Alto County. Emmetsburg is located around the southern bay of Five Island Lake.


The town was originally settled by immigrants during the Irish potato famine between 1845 and 1852. Emmetsburg was named after the Dublin-born Irish nationalist Robert Emmet, who was executed at 25 for leading an 1803 rebellion against the British. The city was incorporated on November 17, 1877.


Emmetsburg, Iowa - Five Island Lake at sunset
Five Island Lake at sunset

The city lies just to the east of the Des Moines River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.97 square miles (10.28 km2), of which 3.81 square miles (9.87 km2) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) is water.


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1870 44 —    
1880 879 +1897.7%
1890 1,584 +80.2%
1900 2,361 +49.1%
1910 2,325 −1.5%
1920 2,762 +18.8%
1930 2,865 +3.7%
1940 3,374 +17.8%
1950 3,760 +11.4%
1960 3,887 +3.4%
1970 4,150 +6.8%
1980 4,621 +11.3%
1990 3,940 −14.7%
2000 3,958 +0.5%
2010 3,904 −1.4%
2020 3,706 −5.1%
Source: and Iowa Data Center
U.S. Decennial Census
The population of Emmetsburg, Iowa from US census data

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,904 people, 1,632 households, and 967 families living in the city. The population density was 1,024.7 inhabitants per square mile (395.6/km2). There were 1,836 housing units at an average density of 481.9 per square mile (186.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.9% White, 1.0% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.

There were 1,632 households, of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.7% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the city was 41.4 years. 20.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.5% were from 45 to 64; and 21.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

Arts and culture

Irish heritage

The city hosts many festivities the weekend of or following St. Patrick's Day, including a parade, and hosting a member of the Irish government. .

Sister cities

Emmetsburg is a sister City to Dublin, Ireland due to its rich Irish history.


Emmetsburg hosted minor league baseball in 1912. The Emmetsburg team played as members of the Iowa State League, with home games played at Harrison Park.


Emmetsburg Community School District operates public schools.

Notable people

  • Paul Emerick, USA international rugby player; born in Emmetsburg
  • Matthew M. Joyce, former United States federal judge; born in Emmetsburg.
  • Loren Meyer, retired American professional basketball player; born in Emmetsburg.
  • Bruce Nelson, retired National Football League player; born in Emmetsburg
  • Robert W. Pratt, District Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa; born in Emmetsburg
  • Curt Pringle, mayor of Anaheim, California
  • Thomas Appelquist, theoretical physicist and dean of the Graduate School, Yale University
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