Indianola is located just south of the Des Moines Metro and is home to Simpson College the National Balloon Classic, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. Close to the metro, it boasts a population of almost 16,000, Indianola retains much of its small-town charm blended with all that a college can offer. The bustling downtown square has a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and services. Two other business corridors provide further commercial opportunities.
The Indianola community is proud of its trail system and is home to the McVay / Summerset trail which combines for a total of 12.8 miles and connects to Carlisle. Indianola also earns a high walkability score and is one of the few Iowa communities where most errands can be accomplished on foot. Indianola is served by the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA), which provides on-demand transportation, and is located just 15 minutes from the Des Moines International Airport. The average one-way commute for Indianola residents is 21.7 minutes, lower than the national average of 26.4.
Because Indianola is a college town, it has a unique blend of down-home and cutting-edge, and offers residents the benefits of a small town with the amenities and diversity of a larger community. For example, the renowned Des Moines Opera is headquartered in Indianola, and performs three operas each summer to sold out crowds. Indianola also hosts the National Balloon Classic, drawing participants and thousands of spectators from all over the world and filling the skies with colorful hot air balloons.
The area that is now Warren County was once the home of Woodland Native Americans. One of their burial mounds is still visible in nearby Hickory Hills Park. Indianola was founded in 1849 as the county seat near the center of the newly formed Warren County. The town began with a log schoolhouse that doubled as the courthouse surrounded by a few homes. It quickly grew to include a stop on the Underground Railroad assisting escaping slaves to safety prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1860, the Methodist Episcopal Church established a seminary which became Simpson Centenary College in 1867. After twenty years of campaigning by local citizens, the Rock Island Railroad connected Indianola to Des Moines and points beyond in 1871. Indianola has continued to grow since then featuring a community Wellness Center with an indoor pool, several hotels and event centers, and many businesses that serve the community.
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