Olde Town Altoona
The area now known as Olde Town Altoona was where the City of Altoona began. Anthony Yant settled in what would become Altoona in 1854. The Des Moines Valley Railroad reached Altoona in 1967. The DMVR built a siding on the crest of the hill and it became known as Yant’s Siding or Yant’s Station. A surveyor named Julian B. Bausman laid out the area known As Olde Town in 1968. He discovered that Altoona was the highest point on the old Des Moines Valley Railroad between Keokuk and Des Moines. The name Altoona came from the Latin word “Altus” which means high. The Rock Island Railroad reached Altoona in September of 1868. It continued to call the town Yant and printed tickets and timetables using that name.
The name “Olde Town” dates back at least to the early 1980s. It is not clear where the name and its spelling came from, but it stuck. In the 1990s, Olde Town saw great growth during a revitalization project spearheaded by the original Olde Town Business Association. Decorative street lighting, memorial brick pavers, and community events were all done under the original business association.
Today, there is again great growth happening in Olde Town. More businesses are looking to move here, and there are plans for beautification and revitalization of the area. More events are planned each year that draw people to the historic heart of Altoona. Olde Town is home to a diverse collection of businesses, including a vintage shop, home decor, historical museum, salons, animal feed, and so much more!
Olde Town Business Association
The organization of the Olde Town Business Association started in 2020 as revitalization efforts began in Olde Town. Following the downtown assessment by Iowa Economic Development Authority, Alex Payne (Altoona Area Historical Society) and Jared Vincent (Insurance Station) met to start the planning of the new business association. Jared’s father had started the original Olde Town Business Association in 1997. The previous business association started Christmas in Olde Town and the Olde Town Farmers’ Market. After the business association disbanded, Christmas in Olde Town and the farmers’ market ended. The Altoona Area Historical Society brought back Christmas in Olde Town in 2017.
Jared and Alex decided the first thing to do to get the business association going again was to bring back the farmers’ market. The idea was to draw more attention to Olde Town and provide a home for local small businesses and farmers. The market was held in the summer of 2021 with Sara Todd (The Holton Homestead) serving as the market manager.
In 2022, The Olde Town Business Association continues to work to officially become a 501(c)(3) organization, hold monthly meetings with business owners, and plan the structure of how the association can best serve the Olde Town businesses.