Colfax is a charming community of 2,223 people that provides its residents a small town lifestyle with the big city conveniences of Des Moines just twenty minutes away. Colfax is conveniently located less than one mile south of Interstate 80 and has a constant bustle on their main street (Highway 117) with thousands of vehicles passing through daily.
Downtown Colfax is a vibrant area with tremendous business services and great local flavor including an old fashioned ice cream fountain and award winning pizza. It has small town traditions that build community pride including music in the park, the Jasper County Fair, and town festivals. Recreation is also abundant in Colfax including a 9 hole golf course with a country club, bowling alley, swimming pool, outdoor performance stage, an 18 hole frisbee golf course, tennis courts, soccer fields, and a baseball and softball complex.
Visitors will notice that “something is happening” in downtown Colfax. There is a local movement with the help of the newly formed Colfax Main Street organization to make downtown Colfax the heart of the city, restored in a manner that preserves its historic character and architecture. Colfax is coming alive as a destination for residents of all ages, visitors and heritage tourists. Visit charming Colfax!
About Colfax Main Street
Colfax Main Street, Inc. (Colfax Main Street) is part of the Main Street Iowa Program with the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The Main Street Iowa Program was created to improve the social and economic well-being of Iowa's communities by assisting selected communities to capitalize on the unique identity, assets and character of their historic commercial district. This economic development is centered around historic preservation.
Colfax became a Main Street Iowa Community on May 18, 2009. The Colfax Economic Development Commission, the Colfax Chamber of Commerce, the Colfax Visioning Committee, and the Take Pride Where You Reside Committee combined to form Colfax Main Street.
Colfax Main Street is modeled after the National Main Street Program through the National Trust for Historic Preservations with a Main Street Board, a paid director and committees established to implement the Four Point Approach®
Colfax Main Street Vision Statement
Colfax will soon be known for its old time charm in a modern day world. The heart of the city will be a vibrant area, restored in a manner that preserves its historic character and architecture. The storefronts will be filled with healthy, sustainable business. The economic growth will create jobs and stable businesses that will help build the tax base. Community pride in downtown will be evident in its clean, attractive and well kept appearance. Filled with an upbeat, eclectic mix of shops and services, the town will be alive as a destination for residents of all ages, visitors and heritage tourists.
Colfax was platted and became a town in 1866, named after Schuyler Colfax who was Speaker of the House in 1866 and later became Vice-President under Ulysses S. Grant. It was an accidental discovery in 1875 that rocketed Colfax to world prominence. While drilling for new coal deposits east of town, workers found an artesian well with high mineral content. This discovery immediately began to draw visitors from around the country to bathe, drink, and otherwise draw on the water's healing powers. At one point Colfax had three different train depots with twelve trains bringing literally thousands of people to Colfax daily. The total number of visitors during Colfax’s mineral spring’s heyday is unknown; however in the year 1900 the largest of the hotels, The Hotel Colfax, registered over 13,000 guests. Colfax became known as “Spring City,” “Little Carlsbad of the Midwest,” and “the Saratoga of the West” with fourteen mineral springs, four bottling works, nine hotels and many new industries forming including two brickyards and the Close-to-Nature Company which later became the Monroe Table Company, a manufacturer of worldwide products.
Progress continued when in 1896, Colfax built one of the largest outdoor frame buildings in America, seating up to 2,000 people for Chautauqua meetings. Among the many that spoke there was Iowa's own Billy Sunday, Carry Nation, and William Jennings Bryan. Additionally, General J.B. Weaver, famous politician, moved to Colfax in 1896. Weaver hosted a series of political debates that drew thousands and he later became mayor of Colfax. Colfax was also the boyhood home of James Norman Hall, co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty (1932), which has been made into film three times. In 1912, Colfax was selected to receive funding by the Carnegie Foundation to build a new library, which is still in use today.
The Great Depression was the end for most of the spas and hotels of Colfax. They fell into disrepair and were demolished, or were destroyed by fires. However, it was the Depression that actually brought about the last of the major additions to Colfax. The Works Progress Association (WPA) built the gazebo at Mineral Springs Park and the outdoor stage with terraced seating at Women's Club Park, which are both still used for community gatherings.
Colfax Main Street Committees
Colfax Main Street has four committees, each comprised of 4-6 volunteers.
Organization Committee is in charge of volunteer recruitment and organization, fundraising, a newsletter and general office tasks.
Promotion Committee is in charge of special events, advertising, marketing and imaging.
Design Committee enhances the visual quality of downtown with signage, window displays, building improvements and landscaping.
Business Improvement Committee recruits new businesses and helps current business improve or expand.