The City of Manson was built upon the site of the Manson Impact Structure, the largest known meteorite crater in the United States. The crater, measuring more than 23 miles in diameter, was created when a meteorite crashed into earth some 74 million years ago. The crater now sits approximately 200 feet below the City of Manson. Although the crater is not visible today, the impact of the meteor significantly changed the geography of the area. As a result, the City of Manson was known for years as the “soft water capital of the world”.
The history of Manson dates back to 1870 when the
Illinois Central Railroad was completed from Fort Dodge
to Storm Lake. Settlers had lived in the area as
early as 1865 and stage coaches ran east and west on a
road one-half mile south of present day Highway 7.
At the time, Fort Dodge was only a trading post.
Three miles southeast of present day Manson, a
settlement called Yatesville was formed. It was
here that Joseph and Louisa Yates built a frame house
which served as the first Post Office, a school, and a
meeting place for the church and Sunday school.
However, with the coming of the railroad in 1870, these
public services were moved to the land adjacent to the
railroad and the town of Manson was born. By 1880
Manson was an incorporated town with 500 residents.
In Manson’s early days, the first buildings were located south of the Illinois Central railroad. In 1873 the town was platted, after which businesses flourished north of the tracks where the land was high and drier. In 1882, when both sides of Main Street were lined with thriving businesses, a fire swept through the east side – all was destroyed with the exception of one building. Rebuilding thus began.
By 1911, the City of Manson had 24-hour electric service. In 1919, a decision to pave the streets of Manson was made by the city fathers and by 1921 a sanitary system and most of the paving were completed. The community continued to develop and expand.
In 1979 a devastating F4 tornado swept a path of destruction though the center of the city. Manson residents showed their resilience when the community banded together to rebuild and continue to prosper.
Since its establishment, Manson has experienced considerable obstacles, change and growth,. It has sustained significant damage by both a fire and a tornado, undergoing major rebuilding efforts not once, but twice. Today, with a population of nearly 1900, the quality of life in Manson is exceptional. The community is noted for its: strategic location; strong leadership; excellent educational system and athletic facilities; quality housing; safe and accessible public areas; strong musical heritage; active youth programs; and, its proximity to numerous recreational amenities.