ATHENS STATE PARK
Battle of Athens State Historic Site interprets the northernmost Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River along with providing recreational opportunities.
Some of the land and buildings included in the site were part of the once-thriving town of Athens. Located on the Des Moines River, 19th century Athens boasted about 50 businesses before the Civil War, including a large mill that produced flour, cornmeal, lumber, cotton and woolen goods. A large brick hotel, the St. Louis Hotel, was one of many other buildings on the Athens waterfront. Today, only a few structures remain.
Col. David Moore occupied the town with his pro-Union forces from July 24 to Oct. 31, 1861. On Aug. 5, Moore's force of under 500 men repelled Col. Martin Green's pro-South State Guard of about 2,000 men, who were trying to rescue the town from Union occupation.
Today, the historic site administers the remaining buildings in the town of Athens, including the Thome-Benning House, which was pierced by a cannonball during the battle. Exhibits and tours interpret the battle and the history of the town. The site also offers hiking trails, a lake for fishing, picnic sites, basic and electric campsites and more than a mile of frontage on the Des Moines River.
The boat launch, which allows for boat and canoe access to the ten-acre lake, is composed of gravel. Only electric trolling motors are allowed.