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Lyon County, Iowa facts for kids

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Lyon County
Lyon County Courthouse
Map of Iowa highlighting Lyon County
Location within the U.S. state of Iowa
Map of the United States highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Iowa
Founded January 15, 1851
Named for Nathaniel Lyon
Seat Rock Rapids
Largest city Rock Rapids
 • Total 588 sq mi (1,520 km2)
 • Land 588 sq mi (1,520 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)  0.02%
 • Total 11,934
 • Density 20.296/sq mi (7.836/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 4th

Lyon County is the most northwesterly county of the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2020 census, the population was 11,934. The county seat is Rock Rapids.

Lyon County is named in honor of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, who served in the Mexican–American War and the Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, on August 10, 1861, after which the county was named for him. The county's name was originally Buncombe County, but was changed by the state legislature on September 11, 1862.


The land that makes up Lyon County was ceded to the federal government by the Sioux Indians through a treaty signed on July 23, 1851. The boundaries of the county were set on January 15, 1851 and attached to Woodbury County (then called Wahkaw County) for administration purposes. Lyon County officially split from Woodbury County on January 1, 1872.

The first white man to live in Lyon County was Daniel McLaren, known as "Uncle Dan". He lived near the Sioux River for a short time, spending his time hunting and trapping. He moved out of the county very early in its settlement to stake a claim further west. The second settler in the area was known as "Old Tom", a hunter and trapper who lived briefly near present-day Rock Rapids. While setting his traps, Old Tom was killed by Sioux tribespeople.

In 1862–1863, a group of men from the east coast spent time in the county on a hunting trip. They were: Roy McGregor, George Clark and Thomas Lockhart. During the winter, Lockhart and McGregor were hunting elk along the Little Rock creek and encountered a group of Sioux tribespeople. Lockhart was killed by an arrow, but McGregor was able to escape and rejoin Clark. The two continued to hunt and trap until March 1863. During a spring flood, Clark was drowned and McGregor decided to move back east.

The first permanent settlement in Lyon County was built by Lewis P. Hyde in July 1866. The county's population reached 100 persons in 1869, entirely through migration and settlement. The first white child born in the county was Odena Lee, born on May 28, 1871. The first election in the county was held on October 10, 1871, and recorded 97 votes.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 588 square miles (1,520 km2), of which 588 square miles (1,520 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.02%) is water.

Lyon County is the location of Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, which contains some of the oldest exposed bedrock in the country.

Lake Pahoja is located in the northwest part of the county. It is a man-made lake with an area of just over 28 ha (70 acres).

Major highways

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 221
1880 1,968 790.5%
1890 8,680 341.1%
1900 13,165 51.7%
1910 14,624 11.1%
1920 15,431 5.5%
1930 15,293 −0.9%
1940 15,374 0.5%
1950 14,697 −4.4%
1960 14,468 −1.6%
1970 13,340 −7.8%
1980 12,896 −3.3%
1990 11,952 −7.3%
2000 11,763 −1.6%
2010 11,581 −1.5%
2020 11,934 3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018
Population of Lyon County from US census data

2020 census

The 2020 census recorded a population of 11,934 in the county, with a population density of 20.3348/sq mi (7.8513/km2). 97.19% of the population reported being of one race. 91.03% were non-Hispanic White, 0.34% were Black, 3.41% were Hispanic, 0.27% were Native American, 0.20% were Asian, 0.39% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 4.37% were some other race or more than one race. There were 4,817 housing units, of which 4,466 were occupied.

2010 census

The 2010 census recorded a population of 11,581 in the county, with a population density of 19.7123/sq mi (7.6110/km2). There were 4,848 housing units, of which 4,442 were occupied.



Unincorporated communities

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Lyon County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Rock Rapids City 2,549
2 George City 1,080
3 Larchwood City 866
4 Inwood City 814
5 Doon City 577
6 Little Rock City 459
7 Lester City 294
8 Alvord City 196

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Lyon (Iowa) para niños

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