Osceola, Iowa, is beautifully situated on a high rolling prairie between the valley of the Squaw and Whitebreast creeks, at the intersection of Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 34, just north of the Missouri border. Nearly 5,000 people call this town home. It was established in 1851 and named after a Seminole warrior of the same name. There is a 20-foot carved wooden statue of him on the south side of the highway. On it is the inscription “They cannot capture me except under a white flag. They cannot hold me except in chains.”
Just 50 miles south of Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, Osceola is a gateway for both the BNSF Railway and Amtrak. Nearly 50 freight trains rumble their way through the heart of Osceola daily on two tracks. Osceola is home to the largest of Amtrak’s Iowa hubs, attracting riders from Des Moines and Kansas City. For $196, you can head west to San Francisco on the historic California Zephyr line, and for $47, you can head east to Chicago. The historic Osceola Station (OSC) was built in 1907 by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Whether you’ve been born and raised here or not, everyone gets to share in the traditions and culture of a small town.John Hoag, plant manager, Osceola Food
Osceola’s historic central square boasts storefronts and government offices, as well as a public gathering space for community festivals and celebrations. Visitors to Osceola are delighted by its unique small-town charm. A walk around the central square presents an idea of the town’s agricultural heritage and offers a glimpse into the future. Coffee enthusiasts will stop by Mayberry’s Eatery on East Jefferson Street for a pumpkin spice latte while admiring the original brick facade of the1890s building. They may then make a stop next door at The Grassroots Home to pick up some vintage home décor, not to mention new and on-trend clothing. Arts and movie lovers cannot pass up an opportunity to visit the newly renovated Lyric Theater on South Fillmore Street. Movies are only $5, and the theater is open seven days a week.
Just a short walk around to South Main Street on the east side of the square brings you to the Cornerstone Suites. Built in 1872 as a Masonic building, today it serves as a six-unit, loft-style apartment building with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the square. Down the street is the famous Iron Horse restaurant where visitors can enjoy an excellent meal while relaxing in a comfortable, casual setting. The name Iron Horse is derived from the first locomotive to arrive in Osceola in 1868, which undoubtedly is one of the most important events in the town’s history. A trip to the square allows visitors and locals to enjoy a farmers market that boasts fresh and locally grown produce, as well as handmade arts and crafts. Finally, just off the square, the town’s Carnegie Library, which opened in 1911, exhibits an impressive red brick structure, a grand entrance with stone composed of pilasters supporting scrollwork and a plaque carved with the words “public library.”
“Small towns in America are generational, and that adds to their uniqueness. It makes those of us who move in crave to be a part of that history, especially here in Osceola,” said John Hoag, plant manager of Osceola Food. “Whether you’ve been born and raised here or not, everyone gets to share in the traditions and culture of a small town.”
What today is known as Osceola Food, LLC, has been a part of the town’s history since 1972 when it was originally built for the Jimmy Dean Meat Company. In 1984, Sara Lee Corporation acquired Jimmy Dean and in 1992, announced it would close its facility in Osceola, leaving many devastated employees without a job. The facility sat vacant until 1996 when Hormel Foods began production, having purchased it the year before.
Today, the facility is more than triple the size of its original footprint and covers in excess of 360,000 square feet. More than 900 people are employed at the facility, and it runs a 24/7 continuous operation that produces a variety of products for foodservice and retail consumers around the nation, including Hormel® Bacon 1™ perfectly cooked bacon, Hormel® Old Smokehouse® bacon, Hormel® Natural Choice® and Bread Ready® lunch meats, bone-in spiral hams and Hormel Gatherings® party trays.
Serving as the largest employer in Osceola and in Clarke County, Osceola Food takes great pride in the community and surrounding areas. Whether it is giving donations to local food banks or charities, participating in the trunk-or-treat program, attending local veterans affairs events, providing a float for the Fourth of July celebration or supporting local schools, the team makes a difference in the lives of many now and for the future.