Fort Atkinson

Courtesy of Joyce Meyer Photography
Courtesy of Joyce Meyer Photography

Fort Atkinson is a historic community with lots to teach visitors. Located in the southwest corner of Winneshiek County, this community is home to approximately 300 residents. Well known for its Rendezvous Day celebration, it’s a popular place to visit, learn and return to year after year. Fort Atkinson is also home to the historic Fort Atkinson State Preserve. Fort Atkinson was built to protect the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) during their removal from Wisconsin. The text below is a section from the Fort Atkinson website: 

Throughout the 1830s, the Winnebago resisted leaving their homelands in Wisconsin. The region contained their tribal burial grounds, and the Winnebago also had concerns about moving into the region near their old enemies, the Sioux. General Henry Atkinson then suggested the idea of establishing a temporary fort along the Turkey River within the ‘neutral ground’. 

The first log barracks of the fort were constructed in the year 1840. Labor continued on the fort and by the fall of 1842, most of the work was completed. A total of 24 buildings were erected. In 1846, the same year that Iowa was admitted as a state to the union, the Winnebago signed a treaty to relinquish their land within the neutral ground. It would not be until June 1848, that the military escort of the Winnebago into Minnesota was completed. With no more Winnebago Indians left in the region, the last company of infantry soldiers left Fort Atkinson in February 1849. Over 100 years later, in 1968, the Fort was dedicated as a State Preserve. 

Rendezvous Day’s, held the last full weekend in September, was created in 1977 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Fort Atkinson community, with permission of the Iowa State Preserves Advisory Board. It was organized as a frontier rendezvous to re-enact life in the 1840s. There are participants dressed in costumes from the 1840s, a market where vendors barter and trade like the hunters, trappers, and traders did when it was an active Fort. Each year since, military history, and the Fort are put on display for visitors to come and learn about life in the 1840s in Fort Atkinson, Iowa. This weekend event typically has contests, food trucks, vendors, classes, and many activities for all age levels. 


Popular attractions include:

The Fort Atkinson State Preserve: see above

The Fort: The Fort is the home of the original Flashburger! Come for good people, great drinks, and even better eats! This bar and grill regularly host bingo, live music, and other community events for the public! 

For more information about Fort Atkinson, please visit their website for more details.