The town was initially platted in 1849 and was resurveyed in 1850. The plat was organized around Rush Hill, which was set aside as a “public square” in anticipation of receiving the county courthouse. The lots around the square were arranged for business buildings, and over the years the square has been the governmental and business center of the community. In 1872 the tracks of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Minnesota Railroad were constructed to West Union. They passed the south edge of the town, so the depot did not impinge on the town's center. The same situation occurred with the principal highways built from the 1920s on. They too skirted the public square, thus leaving the downtown uninterrupted by any of the major modes of transportation.
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