Welcome to Holt County!

Holt County is small…and we think that’s an asset!  We have great schools, abundant wildlife, and a relaxed way of life with a small home town feel. Our citizens are vibrant and fun-loving with a strong work ethic that’s tied to the land.

The Missouri River forms the western boundary of Holt County, offering the potential for barge traffic and recreational activities such as fishing and boating.  Interstate 29 Highway crosses Holt County from north to south, providing easy access to not only all areas of the county but provides easy access to the metropolitan areas of Kansas City and Omaha as well.  This four-lane highway enables efficient shipping of goods and hosts travelers from across the country.  A main rail line runs through the county and   connects to western destinations via the historic Rulo Railway Bridge.

Agriculture is our mainstay.  The same rich soils supported both the Native Americans that once settled among our scenic Loess Bluffs and the pioneers who settled this land over 175 years ago.  The modern farmers of today use satellite technology to increase yields and look for ways to prosper with the fertile land.  Local farmers have established themselves in ag-related markets and take pride in knowing their corn and soybeans are used country wide.  Entrepreneurs have found niche markets in other ag-related products such as organic farming, growing grapes for wine production, or using the corn grown in Holt County to produce Ethanol.

Holt County offers many adventures and attractions.  Mound City, located directly on Interstate 29 Highway, offers dining, fuel, and hotel options.  While there, visit the nine-hole Golf Course, Sports Complex, City Park, or enjoy a performance at the State Theater.  Mound City Development Corporation is well on its way to establishing Mound City as a great Missouri Wine Country area.  An annual Winefest celebration is held at Griffith Park.  The Holt County Historical Society, located in Mound City, not only operates a Genealogy and Research Center but supports the Society’s Mound City Museum housed in the former Burlington Northern Railroad Depot.  The county seat, Oregon, hosts a modern courthouse design worth visiting and is located on the Lewis & Clark Trail.  The Holt County Museum and Research Center, located by the Courthouse, allows a look back in time for the area.  In Forest City, visit the Forest City Drug Store Museum.  The museum will enlighten travelers with unique theme displays and activities.  Craig hosts the Ethanol plant and imports corn grown from within the county and Northwest Missouri region.  If you like to hunt, Bigelow offers guided hunting, lodging, and dining. The cities of Corning and Maitland offer that small hometown feel without the hustle and bustle of big town living.  Big Lake hosts recreational water activities within the largest oxbow lake in Missouri.  It is also adjacent to Big Lake State Park which has the largest marsh in a state park in the state of Missouri.  Holt County offers opportunities to visit several Missouri Department of Conservation locations where hunting, fishing, and camping can be done.  Holt County also hosts Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge.  The refuge, established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, serves as a feeding and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.  It was officially named one of America’s Top 500 Globally Important Bird Areas.  In December, the refuge celebrates Eagle Days.  As many as 300 immature and adult bald eagles and an occasional golden eagle may be seen during this migration peak.  A record 476 bald eagles were counted during a 2001 survey.  While you’re there, don’t forget to climb our Loess Bluffs and gaze at the Missouri River valley of wide open spaces.

 No matter which city you visit, you will feel at home with the small hometown feel and friendly locals.  Whether you enjoy wildlife, fishing, hunting, water activities, historical places, or just want to unwind, relax, and look at the stars, Holt County has something to offer.  Holt County is truly a great place to live, work, and visit.

A Look Back

Holt County

One of 6 counties formed in the Indian Platte Purchase Territory, annexed to the State 1837, Holt County was organized in 1841 and named for State legislator David Rice Holt. The county's 456 square miles, bounded west and south by the Missouri, east by the Nodaway, include Missouri River flood plain, steep river bluffs, high glacial prairie. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, in 1804, camped near mouth of the Nodaway.

Oregon, the county seat, lying 1093 feet above sea level, laid out 1841, by John A. Williams, Edward Smith, and Travis Finley, was first called Finley. The courthouse is located in a handsome two-and-a-half acre plot. No railroad reached Oregon until a short line, now abandoned, was built in 1908.

A divided county during the Civil War, Holt was subjected to brutal guerrilla raids. Modern growth came with the building of what is now the C.B. & Q. Railroad in the county, north to south, 1869, and northeast to west central, 1879. The county grew as livestock and grain producer and various towns developed as marketing, trading, food processing and shipping centers.

Holt County's first settlers were Peter and Blank Stephenson, 1838. Pioneers were from Va., Ky., Tenn., Ind., and a large number of Germans located near Craig and Corning in 1839-41. In the 1840's, Whig Vallley, near Maitland, was settled and Jackson's Point (for A. P. Jackson), near Mound City, was a stage stop on St. Joseph to Council Bluffs route. Mormons, immigrants, gold seekers of '49 trekked through the county.

Towns platted in 1857 were Mound City, largest town in the county, and Forest City, once a noted Missouri River port. Bigelow, Corning, Craig were laid out 1868; New Point, Forbes, 1869; Maitland, 1880; Fortescue, 1890.

Holt County State Representative John W. Kelly (1800-58) introduced the resolution leading to 1853 School Law providing first State tax money for public schools. He was one of authors of the law often called the Kelly act. Inventor of Split-log Road Drag, David Ward King (1857-1920) lived in Holt County. Charles C. Moore, a native, served as Lt. Gov. of Idaho, 1919-22, and Gov. 1923-26. In the county are Big Lake State Park and Squaw Creek National Wild Life Refuge.

As stated on the sign erected by State Historical Society of Missouri and State Highway Commission, 1961, located in front of Holt County Courthouse.

Holt County History Web Links:

Holt County Museum & Research Center


The Holt County Historical Society


Courthouse History

Holt County was organized on January 29, 1841 with the county seat being Oregon. Holt County's first courthouse was completed in 1842 and was a 20-by-26 foot two-story building. In 1852, the court moved into a its second courthouse, a 46-foot-square, brick, two-story building. In 1881, elected officials had a mansard roof and tower added to the building. Over the years the courthouse was remodeled several times. A fire destroyed this building on January 30-31, 1965. County voters approved a bond issue to finance the new courthouse. The new courthouse was complete in 1966 with its architect being B. R. Hunter. This courthouse still serves the people of Holt County today.

Louisiana Purchase 1803

Numerous states emerged including Missouri in 1821, doubling the size of the United States. Acquisition of the Platte Purchase Indian Territory in 1836 extended the State boundary westward to the Missouri River. Settlers crossed the Nodaway River inland at the rapids via Old Trail Road Gateway to Holt County which became a feeder line for the Oregon Trail. Holt County was established in 1841, with Oregon. Named for an Indian princess selected as the county seat.

 Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804-1806

 Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809

 Private Presidential Secretary to Thomas Jefferson Governor of the Louisiana Territory

 William Clark 1770-1838

 Soldier and Explorer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Governor of Missouri Territory

They Passed This Way

Acquired from France during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, The Louisiana Purchase encompassed 875,000 square miles costing 15 million dollars or about 3 cents per acre. Virginia natives Lewis and Clark, launched their expedition departing St. Louis in May 1804 on a voyage of discovery, utilizing canoes and oar powered keelboats. Congress appropriated 2,500 dollars for the 8,000 mile round trip venture that took two-and-a-half years, involving over 40 men, the Indian interpreter Sacagawea and a dog.

Old Trail Road

Jesse Carroll, among the first pioneers, immediately built the first courthouse, jail and the Carroll-Lenz Stagecoach Inn in the 1840's. Assisted by his devoted black slave. Descendents of many early families still reside in Holt County. In the mid-1800's others travelled through Oregon, MO., down Sterrett Hill crossing the Missouri River at Iowa Point, westward to the California Gold Rush and the Pacific Northwest.

As stated by the Lewis & Clark hisorical marker erected by the William White Chapter of NSDAR, 2002, located in front of the Holt County courthouse.