FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The location of Wahkonsa School has a great deal of historical interest connected with it. The plot on which the school is built was the site of the old military post from which Fort Dodge had its beginning.
The fort was placed upon the hill overlooking the valleys of the Des Moines River and Soldier and Lizard Creeks for protection from the Indians. The barracks for the officers were built upon what is now the playground.
In 1891, an eight-room brick building was erected upon the side of the old fort. The school was named for a friendly young Sioux Indian who had been a frequent visitor at the fort.
At midday, February 2, 1912, the building burned. The day was bitterly cold and a high north wind blew the flames across the street. The heat was so great that families living near the school had to leave their homes. The heat cracked the glass and melted frost on windows in nearby homes. There were only a few pupils in the building with the teachers when the fire started. All had plenty of time to escape from the building.
The fire was on Thursday. On the following Monday the children began school in various rooms in the business district. Two grades went to the Y. M. C. A., two went to the public library, and others to lodge rooms.
A new school was begun immediately, and within a year’s time the present school building was ready. Because the children and teachers had experienced so much inconvenience, they heartily welcomed the new building.
Shortly after the new structure was erected, the school board purchased the plot of ground just east of the building for a playground. At that time an old log cabin on which modern siding had been placed occupied the site. The school board removed the siding and presented the cabin to the Fort Dodge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. These women had the cabin removed to Oleson Park where it still stands to give us a clear picture of what an early log cabin was like.
In 1928 this society placed a marker on the lawn at Wahkonsa School to mark the site of the old military post. The marker is a bronze tablet set in a five foot stone, and it gives a brief history of the fort.
The old lot school of 1854 has given way to a modern building with a music room and auditorium for the use of the children and patrons. One room has been fitted for a dark room where students may develop films and study photography if they so desire.