Fort Madison: The Place Where Iowa Began

Fort Madison, with an estimated population of over 11,000, is located along the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Iowa. Situated between bluffs along one of the widest portions of the river, it shares the County Seat with Keokuk, making Lee County the only county in Iowa with two seats of government.

Fort Madison is named for the first U.S. military outpost in the upper Mississippi region. Historic Old Fort Madison, an active military outpost from 1808 to 1813, acted as a trading post between the US Army and Native Americans. Historic Old Fort Madison was the first permanent U.S. military fortification on the Upper Mississippi. The fort was the site of Chief Blackhawk’s first battle against U.S. troops, making it the only real War of 1812 battlefield located in the state of Iowa and the first U.S. military cemetery in the upper Midwest. Fort Madison was one of three posts established by the U.S. Army to maintain control over the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. Fort Madison was built to control trade and pacify Native Americans in the upper Mississippi River region.

Pen City

Adding to the history of Fort Madison is Sheaffer Pen, a company manufacturing unique fountain pens designed and patented by Walter A. Sheaffer a local jeweler. Sheaffer Pens were produced here from 1913 until 2007, earning Fort Madison the title of “Pen City.” Located in Fort Madison’s Historic Main Street District, the Sheaffer Pen Museum houses memorabilia that tells the story of not only the industry, but the Sheaffer family as well. The Main Street District also houses the Fort Madison Area Art Association, The Old Fort Players, Riverview, Old Settlers and Central Park amenities, historic homes, parks, retail shops, businesses and dining establishments.

Replica Old Fort Madison and The Santa Fe Depot Museum, home to the North Lee County Historical Society, located in Riverview Park, showcase the heritage and culture of this midwest community. The Tri-State Rodeo has its home here in Fort Madison, bringing the wild west to life in Fort Madison every September. From brick paved streets to historic architecture, scenic parks and river views, Fort Madison the place where Iowa began.

For more information, contact the St. George Area Tourism Office at 800-869-6635 or

Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.