We welcome you to Spencer and
invite you to experience all we have to offer. We're certain our hospitality
will make you feel at home!
All you could hope for in the way of things to do are right here! Museums,
theaters, sports, shopping, dining, and each September we're home to the World's
Greatest County Fair! Hunting, canoeing, fishing, and pedaling on the bike
trails are a few of the recreational opportunities that abound in Clay County
and the year round array of entertainment such as live theater productions,
continuously-changing art exhibits and the many treasures you will find in our
museums will amaze you!
In addition to everything else Spencer has to offer,
it is the home of the "Small-Town Library Cat that Touched the World...Dewey."
The never-ending hum of business presents continued growth and guides us into
the future. A future where history remains alive and the quality of life boasts
of family gatherings and baseball games. Living is easy in Clay County. The pace
is leisurely, yet progressive... a wave, a smile, and a friendly "hello" are
commonplace even among strangers.
Clay County's many contributions from previous generations enrich Iowa's history
and add to our present day culture. Like a freshly brewed cup of coffee, Clay
County blends the beauty of nature and its fertile farm soil with the rich
history and culture. Visitors and longtime residents alike delight in the
historical, and scenic attractions in Clay County that serve as clues to our
colorful past and building blocks for our future in northwest Iowa.
SPENCER & CLAY COUNTY HISTORY
Clay County is a crossroads for historical events and routes from Hwy 18 and Hwy
71. In 1855, the first settlers discovered this fertile northwest Iowa terrain
as a suitable place to establish their homes to fulfill their dreams. Clay
County, officially organized in 1858, found the majority of its early settlers
in the southwestern corner. In May 1860, Peterson was selected as the county
seat. The rolling hills in the southern portion of Clay County, however made
travel difficult for many. In 1866, the first settlers made their way to flat
prairie area which is now known as Spencer. As more settlers followed this
northern trek, it was petitioned and agreed to relocate the county seat to
Spencer. In 1871, Spencer was officially settled as the county seat of Clay
County. The courthouse, built in 1901, still stands today. Within only 30 years
of existence Clay County was gifted to have 84 schools throughout the county and
the population had blossomed to over 1,500.
In 1859 George E. Spencer gave his name to the City of Spencer. In 1878, the
first railroad was built through the black fertile prairie of Spencer and in
less than a year the settlement grew from 300 people to a bustling town of
The Clay County Agriculture Society was organized in 1879 and was significant to
the history of Spencer. In 1917, the Clay County Fair Association was formed and
since that time it has grown to the greatest county fair in the world. The
nine-day fair attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors.
Growth resulted in spite of the disastrous Spencer fire in July 1931. Most of
the business district went up in flames when a youngster dropped a burning
sparkler into a box of fireworks. The keen civic spirit, predominant still,
flourished as Spencer merchants rebuilt the business district into one of the
most attractive in Iowa.
(click on each of
the links below to learn more about life in Spencer)