Early Settlers
The first people of European descent came to the area to trap fur-bearing animals to sell in the European fur-trading industry. The next to arrive were the loyal soldiers who established outposts along the wild frontier to protect the nation’s flank from warring Native American tribes.

After peace was brokered between the Native Americans and the U.S Government, pioneers began settling in the area, laying claim to the fertile land which was reportedly great for farming. Soon, there was a demand for goods that stretched in every direction. Raw materials required to meet those demands were plentiful in the Mississippi River Valley, as were workers looking to earn good wages.

Muscatine was to become a bustling port city. Rafts and steamboats docked on her shores.

Muscatine's Name
Muscatine, as a community, has had several names including Casey’s Woodpile, Newburg and Bloomington, but none of those names could describe a place as great as Muscatine. Residents kept searching for the perfect identity. They looked for a name that would be distinctive and set the community apart from all others. 

In 1850 it was declared the community’s name would be Muscatine. To this day there are no other communities that share our special name! 

Muscatine is said to have been derived from the Mascoutins, a small band of Native Americans who lived in the area during the early 1800’s. Other sources say Muscatine came from a Native American word which meant “island of fire,” in reference to an area south of town which at one time was cover by a slough. When the sun would set over the slough, the whole area would reflect the deep and vivid colors of the setting sun making it seem as though it  were on fire.

When Lumber was King
lumber raft
The lumber industry boomed in Muscatine’s early days. Logs were floated down river to Muscatine where they were milled into board lumber, doors and window sashes. By about 1875, lumber rafts reached gigantic proportions and could be seen from any point at any time on the Mississippi. 

Lumber barons became extremely wealthy supplying construction materials for all of the new houses and barns being built in the region as each new settler strived to achieve the American Dream.

Your walk or drive through Muscatine’s historic neighborhoods, which are filled with magnificent homes, is proof of the wealth that was created.

By 1902, there were only two mills left in Muscatine, heavily dependent on supplies from the open log market.

The Pearl Button Capital of the World
button workers
In 1887, German immigrant and skilled button cutter, John F. Boepple came to Muscatine looking for raw materials to create shiny, durable buttons. Boepple discovered mussel shells fished from the depths of the Mississippi River were indeed perfect for cutting into button blanks.

By 1905, during the height of button production, 1.5 billion buttons, nearly 40% of the world’s output of buttons, were manufactured in Muscatine. Fifty percent of Muscatine’s workforce was employed in the button production process, from harvesting the shells to shipping the finished product.

Nearing the mid-1900’s, the pearl button industry was in decline. Mussel beds were exhausted from over fishing and new, more durable materials, favored by consumers, were being developed.

When you visit Muscatine, you'll see many businesses with "Pearl City" in their names in homage to Muscatine, the Pearl City of days gone by.