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established 1869



Lake Mills is strategically located 10 miles west of Interstate 35, 18 miles south of Interstate 90 and approximately 2 hours from both Des Moines and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Lake Mills traces its history back to the 1850's. The first settler in the area was Joshua Thomas. He was soon followed by many others, a good share of whom were of Scandinavian descent. C. D. Smith incorporated the community in 1869.


Lake Mills has always been a prosperous community. The name Lake Mills comes from the fact that the town was built on what was then the shoreline of Rice Lake. There was also a grist and lumber mill located on the banks of the old town lake.

During the first half of the 20th century the city depended on Cool Spring Canning Company for jobs. When the canning plant closed in 1957, an aggressive group of Lake Mills' residents began what has turned out to be a highly successful drive to create jobs for people in the area.

The Mayor, City Council members, and the Lake Mills Chamber Development Corporation work closely with new and existing businesses to access local and state/federal incentives. The Community prides itself on the high quality of companies that have located here as a result of an industrious labor force, excellent municipal facilities, equitable tax structure, and a quality environment for businesses.


Richard Sears, the founder of the huge Sears organization, was depot agent here from 1880 to 1886 prior to moving to Redwood Falls where the company picks up his trail to success. Pulitzer prize winning author Wallace Stegner spent his early life here. Jesse Parker, a legend in Iowa education, was born and raised in Lake Mills. Governor Terry E. Branstad, who served in the state's top office, has roots in Lake Mills. Branstad opened a law practice here as a young attorney, and continued to call Lake Mills home while serving as state representative and lieutenant governor before being elected to the Governor's office, a position he held for 16 years. He stepped down as Governor in 2017 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China. 


Many graduates of Lake Mills Community School have gone on to make their mark in various endeavors in the state, nation, and world.

Contact us at (641) 592-3251 or at

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