Iola Colorado was a small town located in Gunnison County, Colorado. It was founded in 1896 and was home to a few hundred people at its peak. The town was located on the Gunnison River, and was a popular destination for fishing and recreation.
Iola’s history is closely intertwined with the history of the Gunnison River. In the late 19th century, the river was a major transportation route for cattle and other goods. Iola served as a shipping point, and was also a popular stop for travelers.
In the early 20th century, Iola became a popular destination for tourists. The town was known for its beautiful scenery and its excellent fishing. Iola was also home to a number of hotels and resorts, which catered to tourists from all over the country.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began construction of the Blue Mesa Dam. The dam was built to provide water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The construction of the dam flooded the town of Iola, and its residents were forced to relocate.
Today, the site of Iola is located under the waters of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The reservoir is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other recreation. However, the town of Iola is still remembered by its former residents and by those who have heard its story.
Despite its short existence, Iola left a lasting legacy. The town was once a thriving community, and its residents contributed to the development of the Gunnison Valley. Iola’s story is a reminder of the importance of preserving our history and our heritage.
There have been several news reports over the years that discuss the history and legacy of Iola Colorado.
- Drought reveals a long-submerged Colorado town on floor of Blue Mesa Reservoir
- Remembering Iola
- As The Blue Mesa Reservoir Dries Out, A Forgotten Small Town Reemerges
- ‘Go As a River’
- Man flooded the town of Iola; now nature is bringing back its ghost
- Creating Colorado’s largest body of water meant destroying a thriving mountain town
Remembering Iola Colorado
Today, there are a few ways to remember the town of Iola. The Gunnison County Museum has a display on Iola, and the town’s former residents have formed an association to preserve its history. There is also a historical marker on Highway 50 that commemorates the town of Iola.
There are a few buildings that still exist around the Gunnison area that were moved from Iola prior to the reservoir flooding. One such building is the Rippling River Ranch Cabin located at Island Acres Resort Motel just outside of Gunnison, Colorado. Guests can rent this three bedroom, three bathroom historic cabin for vacations or gatherings.
If you are ever visiting the Gunnison Valley, I encourage you to take a moment to remember the town of Iola. It was a once-thriving community that was lost to the depths of Blue Mesa Reservoir. However, its legacy lives on in the memories of its former residents and in the stories that are told about it.