Population (2010)

Unincorporated

Introduction

About eight miles south of Lansing, the road descends into a bowl-shaped valley bisected by Wexford Creek that is home to one of Iowa’s oldest Catholic congregations and one of its most scenic settings.

History

In 1850, the Reverend Thomas Hore led a group of 450 people out of Ireland to escape the potato famine. After reaching the US, they traveled from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to Arkansas, where many immigrants stopped and joined small Irish enclaves nearby. A few continued north to St. Louis with Father Hore.

In spring 1851, he bought 2,000 acres in Allamakee County, then returned to St. Louis and accompanied 18 families to this valley. In short order they built a log church they called St. George. Father Hore returned to Ireland in 1858—he would die there a few years later—and nearby Trappists picked up his ministry.

The log church burned down and was replaced by a frame church around 1858. It proved to be too small, so the parish built a stone church that was dedicated in 1867 as St. George but renamed Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in 1870. A small community developed around the church and creek but never got big enough to incorporate.

Exploring the Area

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (1416 Great River Rd.; 563.586.2150) is a simple country church built of limestone quarried from nearby hills and surrounded by a cemetery on three sides and a hill on the fourth. The church has been through many alterations over time, but it retains a timeless beauty. The building is usually open during the day if you’d like to look around the inside.

**Looking for more places to visit along the Mississippi River? Check out Road Tripping Along the Great River Road, Vol. 1. Click the link above for more. Disclosure: This website may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to.

Where to Go Next

Heading upriver? Check out Lansing.

Heading downriver? Check out Harpers Ferry.

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Wexford Photographs

©Dean Klinkenberg, 2009,2018