They claim that Lansing, Iowa is where Main Street meets the Mississippi. And this is no joke. You can literally drive down Main Street and end up in the river. Besides a “Dead End” warning sign giving you notice, Main Street turns into a boat launch plunging you into the Mighty Mississippi.
Lansing is located in the far northeast corner of Iowa, in Allamakee County. It was founded in 1851 and has always served as a mecca for outdoor adventurers with numerous activities including boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, and more.
Boating on the Mississippi River
With a number of public boat landings, you’ll have easy access to the river for fishing, boating, waterskiing, or sandbar camping. There are also two marinas, one owned by the city. If you don’t own a boat, that’s not a problem either, as S&S Houseboat Rentals has you covered with options for fishing boats, pontoon boats, or even houseboats.
The areas on the Mississippi River are broken up into “pools” – and the Lansing area is known as Pool 9 with over 30 miles of waterways. Within Pool 9, there are over 104 different species of fish, mostly: walleye, bluegill, northern pike, bass, sunfish, and crappies.
If you’re interested in trout fishing, Lansing also has options available at Clear Creek Park and Wexford Creek.
Driftless Area Visitors Center
Location: 1944 Columbus Rd Lansing, Iowa
Stop by the visitors center which has three floors of exhibits to help explain what the “Driftless” area is and its history. They also have exhibits on early Lansing history.
Mt. Hosmer Memorial Park
Location: 271 Main St, Lansing, IA 52151
One of Iowa’s most spectacular city parks, Mt. Hosmer rises 450 feet above the Mississippi River and provides stunning views of the area. The park is open from sunrise to sunset (except during winter). There’s a road allowing you to drive to the top where you’ll find parking, picnic shelters, a playground, and several veteran’s memorials. There are also restrooms and water fountains available. On the way to the top, there’s a small pull-off area that provides a great view of the Black Hawk Bridge.
Why are there three different flag poles on Mt. Hosmer?
On the top of Mt. Hosmer, facing to the east is the most popular scenic view of both the river and the bridge. At this location, you’ll also notice a flag pole with the name Gylnn Point. Here’s what most people may not realize – there are a total of three flag poles on Mt. Hosmer. Each flag pole is a scenic view location that is named after a Lansing veteran who died in World War I.
Glynn Point – overlooking the Mississippi River is the most popular and most visited location.. It’s also right next to the parking lot and the restrooms.
Strong Point – overlooks the center of Lansing. As you drive to the top of Mt. Hosmer, as soon as it levels off, look to your left and you should see a small sign “Strong Trailhead”, which is the short trail that leads out to Strong Point.
Beck Point – overlooks the west end of Lansing. The trailhead is located at the top of Mt Hosmer, on the west end of the park, and is probably the hardest trailhead to find.
Can you camp at Mt. Hosmer?
No. It is a day-use-only park, no camping is available.
How did it get the name Mt. Hosmer?
During a steamboat layover in 1851, they held a foot race to see who could make it to the top first. The winner was 21-year-old Harriet Hosmer. The hill was then named in her honor as Mt. Hosmer.
Harriet’s mother and siblings had died when she was only 12 and her father had encouraged her to follow her passion for art. Harriet had recently spent time in St. Louis and was traveling on her own through what was the western edge of the US at that time. Within two years, Harriet moved to Rome, Italy to take on full-time training as a sculptor. She eventually moved back to the United States and became known as the first female professional sculptor. Her work is still on display in places like the St. Louis Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and the Art Institute in Chicago.
After her massive marble sculpture named Zenobia was released in 1859, the Art Journal suggested that the work was done by male assistants, as its sheer size couldn’t have been done by a woman. Of course, if the men who wrote this had also been there for the foot race in Lansing, Iowa -they would have known what Harriet Hosmer was capable of.
In addition to the bluff at Lansing, Iowa, the US Military also named a World War II era ship after Harriet, and there is also an elementary school in her hometown in Massachusetts named in her honor.
Black Hawk Bridge
It’s the northernmost bridge across the Mississippi River in Iowa and its image/likeness is automatically associated with the town of Lansing. The Iowa Department of Transportation created several new designs for replacement bridges – and all of the “other” designs were defeated because they didn’t look the like current bridge. Starting in 2024, construction will begin on a new bridge, just to the north of the current location, and the design will be very comparable to the existing bridge.
It’s named after Chief Black Hawk, although it is also sometimes called the Lansing Bridge. It’s also commonly called the “singing bridge” because of the sound that is created by vehicles traveling over the unique deck of the bridge. In fact, you can park under the bridge on the Iowa side and listen to the bridge as it “sings”. This singing is caused by the deck of the bridge, as it is grated, or has holes in the deck. In fact, as you drive across the bridge and look out, you can see through the bridge down to the river. The bridge is also extremely narrow, only about 20 feet across for both lanes. The Black Hawk Bridge is known for being one of the most loved and/or most hated bridges in Iowa.