Editor’s note: This is the second in an ongoing series in which guest columnist Arden Schoep takes a look at the history, and sometimes curious names, of the creeks in Story County.
In our first story about the Creeks of Story County, we took a look at West Indian Creek and East Indian Creek, which eventually merge near Iowa Center and later empty into the Skunk River south of Story County.
Today, we’re going to look at more of the small streams that form the drainage system in the county, allowing farmers to raise crops. Little Minerva, South Minerva and Middle Minerva combine to drain land in the northeast portion of Story County, around McCallsburg and Zearing.
None of these creeks are spring fed, thus they are a product of drainage water needing to find a place to flow off of land used for crops.
Like the Indian Creek, today’s creeks are not recreational streams in and of themselves, but just like the east and west streams that form Indian Creek, their lowland and trees are attractive to deer, birds and other wild game. Some fish have been caught in Little Minerva Creek about 7 miles north of State Center in Marshall County, however.
Minerva Creek is the only small stream in the county that doesn’t eventually empty into the Skunk River or other streams in Story County. Minerva empties into the Iowa River in Marshall County.
Story County is home to both Little Minerva Creek and Middle Minerva Creek, and is located in the northeast corner of the county. The two eventually become Minerva Creek and make their way east to the Iowa River in Marshall County as part of the Iowa River basin.
So how did Minerva get its name? Minerva is an older feminine name that dates back in history, back to the days of Greek gods. According to one source, Minerva was the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce, but is best known as the goddess of wisdom. Another source tells us that she was the goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, strategic warfare, weaving and the crafts.
In Greek mythology, she was an equal to Athena.
According to one internet source, it presented early settlers in the area, back in roughly 1846, a nice deviation from the Washingtons and Jeffersons that many streams throughout the quickly expanding nation had been named.
Little Minerva Creek empties into Middle Minerva Creek, which later empties into Minerva Creek east of Zearing. Hardin County Drainage Ditch 1 also empties into Minerva Creek north of the county line.
The Minerva creeks aren’t huge creeks, varying from 5-6 feet wide to about 20 feet where the combined creeks feed into the Iowa River. The creek winds down into Story County from Hardin County, with part of the creek starting in Hardin County, another part near McCallsburg, running just south of Zearing and flowing on to St. Anthony in Marshall County.
Because the creeks mostly are not close enough to inhabited towns, few homes are in danger of flooding caused by overflow waters of the Minerva creeks. However, Middle Minerva has been known to flood as it enters Zearing from the west when heavy rains fall or warm spring temperatures melt snow.
Still, the lazy winding creeks provide picturesque scenes, especially in the areas where they touch timber areas in the autumn.