DECORAH, a small post-village, capital of Winnishiek county, Iowa, on the Upper Iowa river, 3.'! miles W. from the Mississippi river at Columbus, which is the nearest landingplace. The river furnishes water-power. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)
DECORAH, the county-seat of Winneshiek County, is a thriving village, 2-1/2 miles east from the geographical centre of the county. It is pleasantly situated on the Upper Iowa River, twenty-nine miles from the Mississippi, and fourteen miles from the southern boundary of Minnesota. The great thoroughfare between Iowa and Minnesota, and the Dubuque and St. Paul mail-route, pass through this place. Stages run regularly to St. Paul, Brownsville, Lansing, Dubuque, and the intermediate points.
Decorah was first settled in the spring of 1849, by Wm. Day, who was followed in June by Wm. Painter. These men for some time were obliged to grind their flour in a coffee-mill, and bolt it through a sieve. They lived comparatively alone until the year 1851, when the first saw-mill and store were commenced. The same year a survey was made of a few lots, and the place was called Decorah, after a celebrated Winnebago chief, whose grave is still to be seen at the foot of the beautiful eminence upon which the public buildings of the county are about to be erected. The town was re-surveyed, enlarged, and recorded in 1853, since which it has rapidly improved, and now contains about 350 inhabitants. It commands an extensive trade with Winneslieik, Howard, and Mitchell Counties, and also with a large portion of Minnesota. The business of the place for the past year is estimated at $80,000.
A substantial bridge across the Upper Iowa River, at this place, affords an excellent crossing at all seasons of the year.
Decorah is on the direct air-line, and on the contemplated and most feasible route for the St. Paul and Dubuque Railroad.
An excellent school is constantly maintained. Regular services are held every Sabbath by the Methodist and Congregationalist denominations.
The village is well supplied with water by numerous beautiful springs within its limits. A newspaper is needed, and would be well patronized. Excellent inducements for a woollen factory are held out at this place. (Iowa As It Is in 1855; A Gazetteer for Citizens..., 1855)