kids encyclopedia robot

Le Mars, Iowa facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Le Mars, Iowa
LeMarsIA Downtown.jpg
"Ice Cream Capital Of The World"
Location of Le Mars within County and State
Location of Le Mars within County and State
U.S. Census Map
U.S. Census Map
Le Mars, Iowa is located in Iowa
Le Mars, Iowa
Le Mars, Iowa
Location in Iowa
Le Mars, Iowa is located in the United States
Le Mars, Iowa
Le Mars, Iowa
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Plymouth
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 8.55 sq mi (22.13 km2)
 • Land 8.54 sq mi (22.11 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
1,234 ft (376 m)
 • Total 10,571
 • Density 1,238.26/sq mi (478.10/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 712
FIPS code 19-44400
GNIS feature ID 0458255

Le Mars is the county seat of Plymouth County, Iowa, United States. It is located on the Floyd River northeast of Sioux City. The population was 10,571 at the time of the 2020 census. Le Mars is part of the Sioux City metropolitan area.


Le Mars was platted in 1869, but no lots were sold until the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company arrived in 1879. According to town legend, CNW investor John I. Blair and a group of women arrived at the town, which was then called St. Paul Junction. Blair asked the women to name the town, and they submitted an acronym based upon their first names' initials: Lucy Underhill, Elizabeth Parson, Mary Weare, Anna Blair, Rebecca Smith and Sarah Reynolds.

In 1885, Frederick Brooke Close, a young Englishman who had passed up attending Cambridge University to live in Iowa, founded the Northwestern Polo League in Le Mars.

During the Great Depression in 1933, at a time when banks were foreclosing on many farmers, Le Mars caught the attention of the nation when "over five hundred farmers crowded the court room in Le Mars", according to an account by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.. The farmers were there to demand that Judge Charles C. Bradley suspend foreclosure proceedings until recently passed laws could be considered. Judge Bradley refused. One farmer remarked that the court room wasn't his alone, that farmers had paid for it with their taxes. The crowd rushed the judge, slapped him, and placed a rope around his neck and a hub cap on his head. They did not, however lynch him.

Fred H. Wells opened a milk route in Le Mars in 1913. By 1925, Wells and his sons had opened an ice cream manufacturing plant there. However, the plant (and the Wells name) was purchased by Fairmount Ice Cream in 1928. In 1935, Fred and his sons sought to begin selling ice cream again, but could no longer use their name. They therefore sponsored a “Name That Ice Cream” contest in the Sioux City Journal. The winner of the $25 prize suggested "Blue Bunny" because his son had enjoyed seeing blue bunnies in department store windows at Easter.

Le Mars sign
Entrance sign to Le Mars
"Ice Cream Capital of the World"

Dominating the skyline of present-day Le Mars is Wells' Blue Bunny Dairy's 900,000-square-foot (84,000 m2) plant with a 12-story tall refrigeration tower called the "South Ice Cream Plant" - so-named because it is on the south side of town. As of 2005, the plant employed 1,000 and produces 75 million gallons of frozen treats, the milk coming mainly coming from three large Iowa dairy farms. The size of this plant has led to speculation that the company is the world's largest family-owned and managed dairy processor and the world's largest manufacturer of ice cream in one location, with Le Mars claiming to be the "Ice Cream Capital of the World".

President George W. Bush came to Le Mars on November 3, 2006, to campaign for Jim Nussle, then candidate for Iowa governor. He spoke at Le Mars Community High School to a crowd of a couple thousand.


Le Mars is located at 42°47′20″N 96°9′57″W / 42.78889°N 96.16583°W / 42.78889; -96.16583 (42.788799, -96.165944). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.97 square miles (23.23 km2), of which, 8.96 square miles (23.21 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 4,036
1900 4,146 2.7%
1910 4,157 0.3%
1920 4,683 12.7%
1930 4,788 2.2%
1940 5,353 11.8%
1950 5,844 9.2%
1960 6,767 15.8%
1970 8,159 20.6%
1980 8,276 1.4%
1990 8,454 2.2%
2000 9,237 9.3%
2010 9,826 6.4%
2020 10,571 7.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

Le Mars is a part of the Sioux City metropolitan area.

2010 census

As of the census of 2015, there were 9,436 people, 4,013 households, and 2,593 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,096.7 inhabitants per square mile (423.4/km2). There were 4,220 housing units at an average density of 471.0 per square mile (181.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.5% White, 0.5% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 2.9% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.4% of the population.

There were 4,013 households, of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.4% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.00.

The median age in the city was 39.2 years. 25.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.5% were from 25 to 44; 26.3% were from 45 to 64; and 16.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.



Le Mars Municipal Airport is owned by the city of Le Mars and located two nautical miles (3.7 km) southwest of its central business district.

Major roads

  • U.S. Route 75 runs north–south through the city of Le Mars.
  • Iowa State Highway 3 runs east–west through the city of Le Mars.
  • Iowa State Highway 60 begins on the north edge of Le Mars and continues northeast to the Minnesota border.


Le Mars is home to two educational institutions, one public and one private.

Le Mars Community School District

Le Mars Community School District is the public school serving over 2,000 students grades PK–12. Le Mars Community, known locally as "Community", has a mascot of a bulldog. Le Mars was a member of the Lakes Conference until July 2019, when it switched to the Missouri River Conference.


  • Clark Elementary School (K–5)
  • Franklin Elementary School (K–5)
  • Kluckhohn Elementary School (K–5)

Middle School

  • Le Mars Community Middle School (6–8)

High School

  • Le Mars Community High School (9–12)

Alternative education

  • Individualized Learning Center

Gehlen Catholic Schools

Gehlen Catholic is a private school associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City serving over 350 students in grades PK–12. Gehlen Catholic's mascot is a jay. Gehlen Catholic is a member of the War Eagle Conference.


  • Gehlen Catholic Elementary School


  • Gehlen Catholic Middle School

High School

  • Gehlen Catholic High School

Westmar University

Westmar University was a private four-year liberal arts college in Le Mars. It permanently closed on November 21, 1997.

Notable people

  • Clarence E. Coe, pioneer of Palms, California and member of the Los Angeles, California, City Council, born in Le Mars
  • Bruce Dreckman, umpire in Major League Baseball
  • Albert W. Durley, Wisconsin State Assemblyman and lawyer
  • Loyal M. Haynes, Brigadier General in U.S. Army, commanding general of 2nd Division Artillery Unit in Korean War and survivor of the 1946 C-53 Skytrooper crash on the Gauli Glacier
  • John Gregory Kelly, Roman Catholic bishop
  • Clyde Kluckhohn, Harvard professor in Social Anthropology, born in Le Mars
  • Keith Knudsen, drummer for the Doobie Brothers
  • Jim Nicholson, former Secretary of Veteran Affairs and Republican Party Chairman
  • Donald Paulin, Iowa state legislator, mayor of Le Mars, and businessman
  • Nancy Jo Powell, former United States ambassador
  • Paul Rust, star of I Love You, Beth Cooper and Love (TV series)
  • Roger C. Schultz, United States Army Lieutenant General and Director of the Army National Guard
  • Charles A. Spring, influential Presbyterian, son of Revolutionary War chaplain Samuel Spring
  • Thomas Starzl, innovator in organ transplant surgery
  • Isaac S. Struble, congressman and namesake of Struble, Iowa
kids search engine
Le Mars, Iowa Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.