The first settlers came to Norwalk area about 1846. One of them, Samuel Crow, settled near the North River. The first construction on the site that is now Norwalk began with a log cabin built by Samuel Snyder. The following year more families settled in the little town known as Pyra.
A post office was established June 18, 1856. George W. Swan laid out the town and erected a hotel. Mr. Swan, who was born in Norwalk, Connecticut and was associated with a newspaper in Norwalk, Ohio, changed the town’s name to Norwalk.
The first railroad into town was constructed in 1882 a narrow gauge line from Des Moines to Cainsville, Missouri. In the 1890’s the railroad was acquired by a subsidiary of the Burlington Railroad and was widened to standard gauge. Its primary use was for shipping the farmers’ livestock to various markets. The line was abandoned in 1947, after a flood had severely damaged the North River bridge.
Norwalk was incorporated in 1900 with Adam Stiffler serving as its first mayor. At the time, the town was one square mile in size. Phone service began in 1903. Since then many additions have been made. The first was the triangle formed by Highway 28, High Road and Cherry Parkway on November 11, 1969. The second was the section north of town, developed as a residential area. It includes the Norwalk United Methodist Church and the Regency Nursing Home. The next large annexation was part of the Howard Hughes farm March 9, 1972. On November 15, 1973, the Casady farm on Cumming Road was annexed. There has been no development on that property. The next annexation was the max Willison farm on the east side of Norwalk. This tract, annexed on September 29, 1977, was developed as Windflower, a residential housing project. On December 19, 1977, the Ray Emery farm west of the city was annexed and on November 20, 1985, the Holland farm on the north side of Norwalk was annexed. This extended the city limits to the country store along the east side of Highway 28.
Read more early history of Norwalk and Norwalk Schools. Special thanks to Myrna Barkley for her help gathering this information.
Lakewood & North Shore
On April 1, 1989, the neighborhoods of Lakewood and Echo Valley Estates were annexed into Norwalk. The original Lakewood development was started in 1965 around the 170 acre man-made Lake Colchester. The south shore of the lake is home to nearly 600 residences and the north side is being heavily marketed for its future development called the North Shore, a 360 acre planned unit development (PUD) providing for mixed types of lake view residential homes, commercial/retail, trails, and office park use.
Echo Valley & Marketplace
The Echo Valley development began in the early 1970s, consisting primarily of residential properties intermixed with the Echo Valley Country Club golf course. Generally considered one of the more upscale areas of town, Echo Valley has emerged as the 2017 host of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines’ Home Show Expo, drawing thousands of visitors to Echo Valley. The Marketplace is a new 28 acre commercial development on the north side of Norwalk on HWY 28. The development backs up to the beautiful Echo Valley golf course and neighborhoods. Residents of Echo Valley have access into the Marketplace via a specially designed golf path. The Marketplace currently boast Mercy Clinics, Arby’s, 1908 Draught House, and plans to add additional retail centers and senior independent apartments within the next two years.
The Legacy Golf Course Community incorporated what used to be called the Colonial Meadows development and contains 18 PGA caliber golf holes, over 900 residences suitable to a wide range of housing budgets, and an increasing variety of commercial opportunities for what has become the geographic center of the city. The development incorporates commercial development along Iowa Highway 28 and a regionally-unique circular central road which was recently completed.
Rolling Green and Warrior Run
The southeast portion of the city contains the Warrior Run golf course as well as several residential developments that will add hundreds of housing units to the city. Rolling Green will consist of some 250 plus homes, and the Warrior Run Estates development area will add at least a further 100. The Grill, clubhouse and restaurant is located at Warrior Run and the Warren County Freedom Rock was included on the property in 2018 as a tribute to fallen our veterans.
McAninch Sports Complex and Norwalk Business Center
A combined development proposal established the McAninch Sports Complex, host to softball, baseball, and soccer events, as well as the Norwalk Business Center, home to multiple industrial users such as meat processing, stone cutting, building materials wholesale, and electronics manufacturing. Windsor Windows is constructing a 160,000+ square foot manufacturing center in the southernmost portion of the business park. Recently, Michael Foods announced the construction of a distribution center which will add $85 million of investment in the city and will be the largest single-site taxpayer in Warren County.
“Sub-Area 1” Mixed-Use Development
Sub-Area 1 is a 600 acre master planned area on the east side of HWY 28 in between Cherry and Beardsley Streets. The planned development will contain a mixture of commercial, industrial, office space, retail, restaurants, trails, town center/public outdoor space, sports and recreation venues, and a variety of residential types of living opportunities. The 17 acre Holland park including fishing ponds, trails, shelter house, and public art will be complete in 2019 on the northwest corner of the development, and the Hughes Century Crossing commercial/retail center is under construction just north of Cherry St. Developments that currently exist within Sub-Area 1 are; Capital City Fruit, K&R Building Supply, Produce Innovations, the new City State Bank, and starting in the Spring of 2019, the new Hy-Vee with Fast & Fresh Store and drive-through Starbucks.