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150 ICONS: Ocheyedan Mound rises above all others

150 ICONS: Ocheyedan Mound rises above all others


OCHEYEDAN, Iowa | The high school teams representing Ocheyedan High School into the 1980s ago went by the Mounders, a unique nickname that played up this community's claim to fame: Ocheyedan Mound, highest point in Iowa.

The hill, which stands 1,655 feet above sea level, is southeast of the Osceola County community, located in a county park on Osceola County Road A-22.

(Iowa's high-point title was officially awarded in the 1970s to Merrill and Donna Sterler, whose farm 11 miles from Ocheyedan had Hawkeye Point, which tops out at 1,670 feet above sea level, according to the U.S. Geodetic Survey.)

Ocheyedan Mound, a free site for visitors, is often decorated with white rock as folks who stop by sometimes arrange the rocks in the initials of their family. It was dedicated as a state and county preserve in October 1984.

The mound, which measures one-third of a mile, was used as an observation point and a place of mourning by Native Americans. It's also a place to picnic and sled.

A sign at the foot of the mound details its origin: "The mound is a kame of glacial origin. Kames are mounds composed of highly complexly stratified sand and gravel deposited by glacial melt-water streams where the streams descended into crevasses in the ice.

"This occurred during the final stages of ice melting and disappearance of the glaciers 12,000 to 14,000 years ago."

Ocheyedan Mound was also the site of a most unsettling Easter event in the 1920s or 1930s. Locals still have a postcard left behind from that time. It shows the Ku Klux Klan attending an Easter sunrise church service at Ocheyedan Mound.

The Ku Klux Klan, at that time, it's been said, had a presence in Osceola County, Iowa's smallest county.


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