Did You Know Iowa is Home to an ‘Abandoned’ Island?
When you think about the state of Iowa, you probably don't think of islands. But, according to the website Anyplace America, Iowa is actually home to over 100 different islands! One of those islands is called Sans Souci.
Sans Souci, which means "no worries" in French, is located in the Cedar River over in Waterloo. The 100-acre island is mostly woodlands now, but about 15 years ago, it was home to around 50 people. Unfortunately, the Flood of 2008 caused "unsalvageable damage" to the island, forcing all the residents to evacuate. The website Atlas Obscura attributes the severe flooding to a breached sandbag dike.
Long before the island was called Sans Souci, it was known as Merwin’s Island. Back in the 1800s, Atlas Obscura said it "provided timber for bridges that crossed the Cedar River." Over time, homes and cottages, a golf course, and a hotel called the Sans Souci Hotel were built. After the flood, all of the housing was cleared, and the City of Waterloo website says that it is now "a passive recreation area with a trail in the woods and river access for fishing." As of now, there are still no facilities, like restrooms, or utilities on the island.
Although there are no firm plans to make any changes to Sans Souci Island right now, the City of Waterloo website says that, eventually, "the expectation would be to create a new dock, pedestrian access improvements, concrete restroom building, and lighting." Until then, nature-enthusiasts will have to enjoy the land as-is!
Another island here in Eastern Iowa is Sabula, Iowa's only island city. Located in Jackson County, Only in Your State says that the island is only one mile long and a quarter mile wide. The 2020 census reports that around 500 people currently live on the island, but it's also a popular vacation destination for Midwesterners! It is home to a harbor, a campground, a beach, a couple of bed & breakfasts, a few bars and restaurants, a gift shop, a library, and a convenience store. It looks like a beautiful place!