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Story County, Iowa
Map of Iowa highlighting Story County
Location in the state of Iowa
Map of the U.S. highlighting Iowa
Iowa's location in the U.S.
Seat Nevada
Largest city Ames
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

574 sq mi (1,486 km²)
573 sq mi (1,484 km²)
1 sq mi (2 km²), 0.15%
 - (2000)
 - Density

140/sq mi (54/km²)
Founded information needed
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Story County is a county in the U.S. state of Iowa. It is part of the 'Ames, Iowa, Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Story County, Iowa and which, when combined with the 'Boone, Iowa Micropolitan Statistical Area' comprises the larger 'Ames-Boone, Iowa Combined Statistical Area'.[1] As of 2000, the population of the county was 79,981. Its county seat is Nevada[2].



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 574 square miles (1,486 km²), of which 573 square miles (1,484 km²) is land and 1 square mile (2 km²) (0.15%) is water.


Major highways

Adjacent counties


Bales of hay on a farm near Ames, Story County, Iowa

The land that today is known as Story County was originally prairie with the exception of some groves along the larger streams in the area. In 1846 the boundaries of Story County were established. The County has an area of 576 square miles (1,490 km2) and is square in shape.

The county was named after Joseph Story, a preeminent United States Supreme Court Justice, in 1853.

The first settlers in Story County came mainly from Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania. Later, many Norwegians, Germans and Danes came directly from overseas and inhabited the area. The first large population influx occurred during the 1850s. Story County was not mentioned in the Federal Census in 1850, but figures from the State of Iowa put the population at 214 in 1852. By 1860 the population had increased to 4,501.

Three commissioners appointed by the Iowa legislature selected the location of county seat on June, 27 1853. The location was Nevada, Iowa. Nevada (pronounced Nuh-VAY-Dah) was named after the Sierra Nevada mountain range in western California. Like many Midwestern towns, cities and counties, many prominent locations from the newly explored West and Mexican-American War of the late 1840s inspired the naming of towns and counties in Iowa during this period.

Railroad construction did more to develop Story County, as it did for the entire American West, than anything else. The first railroad came to the county in 1864. Railroads were such a decisive factor in determining the location of towns that several communities in Story County moved to be closer to the rail line. Some flourishing little towns that were bypassed by the railroad soon disappeared. Although Nevada was long the population center of the county, Ames was the most widely known of the towns because of the busy railroad depot where travelers changed trains for all points north, south, east and west.

In its history, Story County has had four courthouse structures in use. The first courthouse, a two-storey frame building, was built in 1856 but was destroyed by fire in 1863. It was replaced by a similar structure. Soon after, a new courthouse was planned, and it was completed in 1877. The three-storey building was situated on the town square. In the building was a tower in which school children could climb to see a panoramic view of the landscape, which was removed later due to safety reasons. The post-modern style courthouse in use today was built in 1967 and dedicated on May 18, 1968. A cannon from the Civil War rests on the courthouse lawn.[3]

Story County consists of 16 townships and 15 incorporated cities, and 4 unincorporated towns. The population of 79,981 in the 2000 census consisted of 71,114 in urban areas and 8867 in rural areas.


2000 Census Age Pyramid for Story County.
Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 23,159
1910 24,083 4.0%
1920 26,185 8.7%
1930 31,141 18.9%
1940 33,434 7.4%
1950 44,294 32.5%
1960 49,327 11.4%
1970 62,783 27.3%
1980 72,326 15.2%
1990 74,252 2.7%
2000 79,981 7.7%
Est. 2006 80,145 0.2%
IA Counties 1900-1990

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 79,981 people, 29,383 households, and 17,042 families residing in the county. The population density was 140 people per square mile (54/km²). There were 30,630 housing units at an average density of 54 per square mile (21/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 91.14% White, 1.83% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 5.10% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. 1.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 29,383 households out of which 27.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.60% were married couples living together, 5.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.00% were non-families. 26.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the county the population was spread out with 19.10% under the age of 18, 28.30% from 18 to 24, 25.50% from 25 to 44, 17.30% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 104.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,442, and the median income for a family was $55,472. Males had a median income of $36,756 versus $26,941 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,949. About 5.50% of families and 14.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.80% of those under age 18 and 4.30% of those age 65 or over.

Law Enforcement

Primary law enforcement for the county rests with the Story County Sheriff's Office.

Law enforcement agencies in the county include:

  • Story County Sheriff's Office
  • Ames Police Department
  • Iowa State University Police Division
  • Nevada Police Department
  • Huxley Police Department
  • Story City Police Department

Cities and towns

Story County Administration Building


External links

Coordinates: 42°02′16″N 93°27′59″W / 42.03778°N 93.46639°W / 42.03778; -93.46639


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