At the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers in southeast Iowa, Keokuk owes its very existence to the fact that it is a river gateway. In fact, it is known throughout the region as "The Gate City", evidenced by the name of its local newspaper, the Daily Gate City, established in 1847.
Founded by entrepreneurs who had the foresight to create a method of bypassing the dangerous rapids here, the city has thrived not only because of the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers, but by the establishment of rail, highway, and air services that create a hub of commerce.
Three large barge terminals service the area, shipping grain, petroleum, coal and numerous products across the nation and around the world. The nine-foot Mississippi channel is maintained by the Corps of Engineers, and its Lock & Dam 19 is the longest lock in the entire upper Mississippi system.
Keokuk is served by two railroads, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) and Keokuk Junction Railway Co. (KJRY). The KJRY provides area rail users with competitive access to another Class I railroad through its interchange with the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) in Fort Madison, Iowa. Service is available seven days a week, 24-hours a day with public "Rail-To-Truck" transfer facilities for those not directly served by rail. AMTRAK passenger train services are available just 25-45 minutes away.
Ten motor carriers in the area provide transportation services throughout the 48 states for local businesses and industries. The community has direct access to one state and three federal highways including one four-lane thoroughfare and is located only 10 minutes from the Avenue of the Saints a major north/south four-lane expressway which stretches from St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri. Interstate I-80 is 80 minutes north.
Since 1871 a bridge has spanned the Mississippi River at Keokuk. Today we have a four-lane bridge connecting motor traffic between Keokuk, Iowa and Hamilton, Illinois and a swing-span railway bridge.
The Keokuk Municipal Airport has a 5500 foot and 3800 foot concrete runways. An instrument landing system, Unicom radio, non-directional beacon, and localizer DME, soon-to-be installed glide slope and runway approach lighting system provide excellent service. Commercial air service is close at hand, either 45 minutes north at Burlington, IA or 45 minutes south at Quincy, IL.
Mid America Port
Development of a master plan is the next step in the development of the Mid America Port to allow duty-free shipping to other countries, and eliminate much of the transportation costs for manufacturers throughout the Tri-States. All three state legislatures (Iowa, Illinois, Missouri) have approved the project, and the governors have signed it into law.
Keokuk is indeed the "gateway" to Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and beyond.
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