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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 98,537
 • Density 171.67/sq mi (66.28/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 2020 census, the population was 98,537, making it the ninth-most populous county in Iowa. The county seat is Nevada; the largest city is Ames.

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

  • I-35
  • I-35 Business Loop
  • US 30
  • US 65
  • US 69
  • Iowa 210
  • Iowa 330
  • Iowa 930


Story County is home to the Ames Municipal Airport, on the south side of Ames. The nearest large airport is the Des Moines International Airport, on the south side of Des Moines, some 30 miles from Story County.

Rail lines

Story County contains three rail lines, all controlled by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. The Overland Route runs east–west on its route from Chicago to California, passing near Ames, Colo and Nevada in Story County. The Spine Line runs north–south on its route from Minneapolis to Kansas City, Missouri, passing near McCallsburg, Nevada and Cambridge. The third line in Story County begins at Ames and runs near 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%
2020 98,537 10.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2018
Population of Story County from US census data

2020 census

The 2020 census recorded a population of 98,537 in the county, with a population density of 171.2818/sq mi (66.1323/km2). 93.90% of the population reported being of one race. 77.14% were non-Hispanic White, 3.06% were Black, 5.11% were Hispanic, 0.33% were Native American, 5.54% were Asian, 0.03% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 8.78% were some other race or more than one race. There were 41,361 housing units, of which 38,273 were occupied.

2010 census

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

Population 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 income in the past 12 months (2009 dollars) between 2005 and 2009 was $24,202.

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%

Unemployment Of those unemployed and willing to enter / re-enter employment:

  • Average age – 45
  • Male – 50%
  • Female – 50%
  • Have Education Beyond High School – 67.5%

Wages 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.

Commute 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

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Story para niños

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