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Story County, Iowa facts for kids

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Story County
Story County Administration Building
Story County Administration Building
Map of Iowa highlighting Story 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 1846
Named for Joseph Story
Seat Nevada
Largest city Ames
 • Total 574 sq mi (1,490 km2)
 • Land 573 sq mi (1,480 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2 km2)  0.1%%
 • Total 89,542
 • Density 156/sq mi (60/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 4th

Story County is a county in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 census, the population was 89,542. The county seat is Nevada.

Story county comprises the Ames, IA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Des Moines-Ames-West Des Moines, IA Combined Statistical Area.

The county is home to Iowa State University in Ames.


Bales of hay
Bales of hay on a farm near Ames, Story County, Iowa

The land that today is known as Story County was originally prairie with the exception of some groves along the larger streams in the area. In 1846 the boundaries of Story County were established. The County has an area of 576 square miles (1,490 km2) and is square in shape.

The county was named after Joseph Story, a preeminent United States Supreme Court Justice, in 1853.

The first settlers in Story County came mainly from Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania. Later, many Norwegians, Germans and Danes came directly from overseas and inhabited the area. The first large population influx occurred during the 1850s. Story County was not mentioned in the Federal Census in 1850, but figures from the State of Iowa put the population at 214 in 1852. By 1860 the population had increased to 4,501.

Three commissioners appointed by the Iowa legislature selected the location of county seat on June 27, 1853. The location was Nevada, Iowa. Nevada (pronounced Nuh-VAY-Dah) was named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Like many Midwestern towns, cities and counties, many prominent locations from the newly explored West and Mexican-American War of the late 1840s inspired the naming of towns and counties in Iowa during this period.

Railroad construction did more to develop Story County, as it did for the entire American West, than anything else. The first railroad came to the county in 1864. Railroads were such a decisive factor in determining the location of towns that several communities in Story County moved to be closer to the rail line. Some flourishing little towns that were bypassed by the railroad soon disappeared. Although Nevada was long the population center of the county, Ames was the most widely known of the towns because of the busy railroad depot where travelers changed trains for all points north, south, east and west.

In its history, Story County has had five courthouse structures in use. The first courthouse, a two-storey frame building, was built in 1856 but was destroyed by fire in 1863. It was replaced by a similar structure. Soon after, a new courthouse was planned, and it was completed in 1877. The three-storey building was situated on the town square. In the building was a tower in which school children could climb to see a panoramic view of the landscape, which was removed later due to safety reasons. A post-modern style courthouse in was built in 1967 and dedicated on May 18, 1968. That courthouse today houses the Board of Supervisors, Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder, Assessor, Information Technology, Facilities Management, Health and Planning & Development Offices. A cannon from the Civil War rests on the lawn. The current courthouse, the Story County Justice Center, is the newest addition to the family of County Facilities. Opening in 2002, the Justice Center is the heart of the law enforcement and judicial aspects of Story County Government. The Story County Sheriff's Office, Attorney, and Clerk of Court are all housed in this building.

Story County consists of 16 townships and 15 incorporated cities, and 4 unincorporated towns. The population of 79,981 in the 2000 census consisted of 71,114 in urban areas and 8867 in rural areas.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 574 square miles (1,490 km2), of which 573 square miles (1,480 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (0.1%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Major highways


Story County is home to the Ames Municipal Airport, which is located on the south side of Ames, just south of U.S. Highway 30. The Des Moines International Airport, which is located on the south side of Des Moines, is 30–60 miles away from Story County, depending on where you are traveling from.

Rail lines

Story County has three rail lines located inside it borders, all controlled by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and permitting 143 tons gross weight cars and unit trains. The line commonly referred to by Union Pacific as the Overland Route runs east to west through Story County on its route from Chicago, Illinois to Oakland, California. The Overland Route routes through the Story County communities of Colo, Nevada, and Ames. The line commonly referred to by Union Pacific as the Spine Line runs north to south through Story County on it route from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Missouri. The Spine Line routes through the Story County Communities of McCallsburg, Nevada and Cambridge. The third line in Story County, whose origin is in Ames, routes through the Story County communities of Gilbert and Story City.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 4,051
1870 11,651 187.6%
1880 16,906 45.1%
1890 18,127 7.2%
1900 23,159 27.8%
1910 24,083 4.0%
1920 26,185 8.7%
1930 31,141 18.9%
1940 33,434 7.4%
1950 44,294 32.5%
1960 49,327 11.4%
1970 62,783 27.3%
1980 72,326 15.2%
1990 74,252 2.7%
2000 79,981 7.7%
2010 89,542 12.0%
Est. 2015 96,021 7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2010 census

The following Story County statistics were gathered by the 2010 U.S. Census.


Story County had a population of 89,542, a 12% increase from the 2000 Census. Of that number: 17.8% of those people are under the age of 18, and 10% are over the age of 65. 95.1% of those people (age 25+) are high school graduates, and 45.4% (age 25+) hold at least a bachelor's degree.

Commuting time

Story County workers age 16 and older spent an average of 16.6 minutes traveling to work between 2005 and 2009.

Workforce data

There were 45,010 individuals working in Story County and 81.5% of those people live in Story County. The remaining percentages break down as follows: 6.8% live in Boone County (directly west) 4.2% live in Polk County (directly south) 2.1% live in Hamilton County (directly north) 1.2% live in Hardin County (directly north) 1.1% live in Marshal County (directly east).

There were 43,839 working individuals who lived in Story County and worked anywhere, and 83.7% of those people worked in Story County.

Household data

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the median household income in 2009 was $48,165, with an average of 2.41 people per household between 2005 and 2009.

The per capita money income in the past 12 months (2009 dollars) between 2005 and 2009 was $24,202.

2000 census

USA Story County, Iowa age pyramid
2000 Census Age Pyramid for Story County

As of the census of 2000, there were 79,981 people, 29,383 households, and 17,042 families residing in the county. The population density was 140 people per square mile (54/km²). There were 30,630 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.14% White, 1.83% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 5.10% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 29,383 households out of which 27.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.60% were married couples living together, 5.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.00% were non-families. 26.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.60% 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 2.94.

Age spread: 19.10% under the age of 18, 28.30% from 18 to 24, 25.50% from 25 to 44, 17.30% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 104.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,442, and the median income for a family was $55,472. Males had a median income of $36,756 versus $26,941 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,949. About 5.50% of families and 14.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.80% of those under age 18 and 4.30% of those age 65 or over.

Story County Laborshed

Total potential labor force

According to the Story County Laborshed Analysis, which was analyzed and compiled by the Iowa Workforce Development in August 2011, Story County has a total potential labor force of 424,702 people, which breaks down as follows: Employed - 75.3% Unemployed - 8.37% Homemakers - 7.8% Retired - 8.2%

Likelihood to accept / change employment

The estimated number of individuals who are very likely or somewhat likely to change or accept employment is 106,383, or 25%. Employed - 87.6% Unemployed - 3% Homemakers - 5.2% Retired - 4.2%


Of those unemployed and willing to enter / re-enter employment: Average Age - 45 Male - 50% Female - 50% Have Education Beyond High School - 67.5%


The estimated wage range to attract the upper 66-75% of qualified hourly wage applicants is $10 to $10.44 per hour, with a median of the lowest wage at $10 per hour.


Those unemployed and willing to enter / re-enter employment are willing to commute an average of 24 miles one way for the right opportunity.



Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Ames City 58,965
2 Nevada City 6,798
3 Story City City 3,431
4 Huxley City 3,317
5 Slater City 1,489
6 Roland City 1,284
7 Gilbert City 1,082
8 Maxwell City 920
9 Colo City 876
10 Cambridge City 827
11 Zearing City 554
12 Collins City 495
13 McCallsburg City 333
14 Sheldahl (partially in Boone and Polk Counties) City 319
15 Kelley City 309
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