New Albin is located a bit off the river in a broad, flat plain called Ross’s Bench. There are many recreation opportunities nearby.
Tourism information is available through the Allamakee County Economic Development (800.824.1424/563.568.2624; M–F 8:30–4:30).
Before there was New Albin, there was a place called Ross’s Landing just north of Winnebago Creek. This small community later become known as Jefferson and might have had a bright future, except for the fact that village officials sued the expanding railroad for additional compensation for land the railroad was taking to build tracks. The railroad responded by refusing to build a station at Jefferson, then founded the nearby town of New Albin, Iowa, which sucked away what little commerce had been conducted at Jefferson. The station at New Albin was completed in 1872.
On July 4 of that year, 11-year-old Albin, the son of Joseph Rhomberg, one of the proprietors of the town, was playing near a bonfire with pockets full of gunpowder. This was not a good idea, and, sure enough, the gunpowder ignited and exploded, mortally wounding young Albin. The town was named in his honor, but they had to use New Albin to avoid confusion with the Iowa towns of Albia and Albion. The little village grew into a shipping point for grain and produce and had a number of commercial fishing operations. The population has been relatively steady since the 19th century: 423 residents in 1880, 588 in 1910, compared with 527 in 2000.
If you are into unusual buildings, check out the Reburn Barn (1641 Pool Hill Dr.), a 12-sided structure that was built in 1914; it is a quarter-mile off the River Road on the south end of town. The New Albin Town Hall (Main Street) is much the same as it was when completed in 1895.
Fish Farm Mounds State Preserve (2692 State Highway 26) is a three-acre site with about a dozen Woodland-era Native American burial mounds. The mound group—primarily conical in shape—is a short uphill climb from the parking lot. The Fish family donated the property to the State of Iowa, hence the somewhat confusing name.
Many of the backwater areas around New Albin are public lands; one of the most accessible areas if you don’t have a boat is Pool Slough Wildlife Management Area, which is great for birding, general wildlife watching, and fishing. Pool Slough is along Army Road, which you can reach by following Ross Avenue, then, after crossing Main Street, Elm Street.
Getting on the River
The Mississippi River Canoe Trail (800.824.1424/319.568.2624) follows a path through the backwaters from New Albin to Lansing. There are several options for putting in, but one of the more interesting is to start at Black Hawk Bluff on the Upper Iowa River (just off Highway 26) and paddle to Lansing through Big Slough (13 miles).
Entertainment and Events
New Albin Town Days (mid-July; 563.544.8062) is the town’s day to celebrate its identity, with the usual events: sports, music, food, and a parade.
Post Office: 190 Main St.NE; 563.544.4248.
New Albin Public Library: 176 Elm St.; 563.544.4747.
Heading upriver? Check out Reno.
Heading downriver? Check out Lansing.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2011
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