Vinton became the county seat the same year it was platted on the south bank of the Cedar River, in 1849. To the east the landscape was wooded, while to the west it was open prairie dotted every now and then with groves of trees. A conventional grid was laid out, only slightly modified by one square set aside for the courthouse, another for a schoolhouse; somewhat later a cemetery was established at the eastern section of the town. In 1864 a 40-acre site at the southwest edge of town was obtained for the Iowa College for the Blind (now the Braille and Sight Saving School).
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