DISCOVER MASON CITY
Discover an array of award-winning attractions, from puppets to prairie school architecture, and an assortment of festivals uniquely blended with facilities catering to visitors.
Mason City is located in North Central Iowa, in Cerro Gordo County, only a few miles from beautiful Clear Lake. The community is the hometown of Meredith Willson, composer of “The Music Man”. Plus, the area is legendary as it was the final site of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson’s concert. Mason City is also home to Prairie School Architecture with several buildings in the community designed by Frank Lloyd Wright including the only remaining hotel in the world designed by Wright.The largest collection of Bil Baird’s puppets can also be seen in Mason City.
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We look forward to welcoming you to Mason City, Iowa!
- Mason City is located in Cerro Gordo County in Northern Iowa.
- Mason City is the largest urban center in North Iowa and is located 120 miles North of Des Moines, Iowa and 135 miles South of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.
- The population of Mason City is approximately 27,740 people.
- A few of the honors bestowed to the community include:
- In 2014, named as “Great Place for Business Travelers” by USA Today
- Featured on NBC Today Show as one of five “Fast and Affordable Road Trips”
- “Best New Midwest Place to Play, Eat and Stay” in 2011 byMidwest Living
- CNN named the community “An Architectural Hotbed”
- In 1999, Mason city was ranked as the nation’s 10th best city to live in, according to The New Rating guide to Life in America’s Small Cities
- The average winter temperature in Mason City is 18.2 degrees Fahrenheit and the average summer temperature is 70.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The average annual rainfall in Mason City is 31.4 inches while the average annual snowfall is 37.8 inches.
- Mason City has 6 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 1 public high school, and 2 private high schools.
- The Mason City school district is in the top 15% in the United States in academic student achievement tests.
- Mason City is home to a four-year college, a four-year vocational/technical college and a two-year community college.
- Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals. They were also named a Top 100 Cardiovascular Hospital.
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
There are approximately 48 manufacturing plants in Mason City employing nearly 4,000 people.
Mason City’s largest employer is North Iowa Mercy Health Center.
Other major employers include:
- Woodharbor – manufactures wooden cabinets.
- Smithfield Foods – packaged meats and turkey products sold under the Armour, Butterball, Eckrich and LunchMakers brands.
- Cargill Kitchen Solutions – egg processing.
- Kraft – the only place in the world where ready-to-serve Jell-O and Jell-O pudding snacks are made.
- The Principal Financial Group – administrators for insurance policies and retirement programs.
UNIQUE TO MASON CITY
- Mason City boasts a rich and diverse history starting in 1853 with the first European settlers, John Long and John Bilford.
- The town was first called Masonic Grove, then Shibboleth, before becoming Masonville and later, Mason City.
- In 1912, Mason City shipped the largest freight tonnage in the state of Iowa and produced more brick and tile and more Portland cement than any city in the world.
- At one time there were 9 brick and tile companies in Mason City.
- Sugar beets became a major crop in the area until the late 1950’s.
- The Colby car was manufactured in Mason City in 1911.
- The Mason City Municipal Airport was dedicated in 1928. Charles Lindberg attended the ceremony prior to his flight over the Atlantic.
- In 1954, a new breed of horse was introduced in Mason City. The Pony of America came to be known as a gentle, easy to train breed of horse that was extremely well suited for the young rider.
- General Hanford MacNider, a prominent Mason City resident, served in the Mexican War and was one of the most decorated soldiers in World War I, serving again as a leader of American forces in World War II.
- The only remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, known as The Park Inn Hotel, is in Mason City.
- Mason City is home to the largest group of Prairie School designed homes on a unified site and the location of the first and only Prairie School house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Iowa.
- The First National Bank was robbed by John Dillinger and his gang on March 13, 1934. They escaped with $52,000 despite the fact the bank actually had more than $300,000 on hand that day.
- Mason City is the hometown of Meredith Willson, well-known musician and composer who is best remembered for his long running stage and screen musical, “The Music Man”. Mason City is the “River City” featured in Willson’s “The Music Man.” Meredith Willson also wrote the musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and composed the song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
- Mason City is the boyhood home of Bil Baird, master puppeteer. The largest collections of his work, including the puppets featured in “The Sound of Music”, are on display at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum.
- The first North Iowa Band Festival was held in 1928 in observance of Mason City’s 75th Anniversary. Mason City stills hosts this annual event, honoring its musical culture.
- Mason City is home to the only remaining electric freight-hauling railroad in the entire United States. Visitors can see this one of kind train in operation on almost any weekday while traveling on 19th St. SW / County Rd B 35 which runs parallel to the Iowa Terminal electric railroad.