The Southern Gateway to the Iowa Great Lakes
Located in Dickinson County, Iowa, the city of Milford is often referred to as the southern gateway to the Iowa Great Lakes region. The first settler in Milford Township was recorded in 1866, and in 1882, Milford was platted. When train service by the Milwaukee rail line was established, Milford expanded quickly as two passenger trains making daily trips to the Great Lakes region from Des Moines would make four stops in Milford each day, delivering mail, groceries, clothing, lumber, coal, and machinery along with settlers and visitors.
Today, Milford’s nearly 2,500 residents have created a unique destination point for the many travelers who enjoy the surrounding lakes and who swell the summertime population of the county to over 100,000. Milford is home to the fictional “University of Okoboji”—a creation of three brothers in the early 1970s as a joke. The university’s name is now used in connection with several annual fund-raising events for charity, including bike rides, a marathon, and a winter games competition. A local radio station, KUOO, has joined in the joke and refers to itself as the “campus radio.” The Milford Commercial Club actively promotes the city by celebrating an annual summer event called Pioneer Days in late July as well as a holiday festival called the “Holiday Fantasy” held each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend. Milford offers its residents well-established public services with its numerous city parks, great community facilities including a new Community Building and High School Auditorium, and high-standard school system as well as a fire department, police force and a public library that was started in 1923. Scenic Horseshoe Bend Park and Elinor Bedell State Park in Milford add wonderful outdoor recreational amenities to a community whose residents welcome all visitors with open arms. As William Shakespeare said, “What is a city but the people?”