The land known today as Moon River Cabins is steeped in a rich history that is the song of the Mississippi River and America. Sitting quietly on an embankment of the “Fathers of all Waters “, the Moon River Cabins property has seen everything including ancient warriors during the earliest beginnings of human civilization in the Americas to two thousand years later a Posse gathering to drive out desperados (the Brown Gang) in the early 1800s from the frontier area that has become Jackson County, Iowa.
The erection of the four cabins that exist today began in the early 1930s when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed forward his aggressive plans to finally end the Great Depression that had started in the 1920s. He called it the New Deal. Part of the New Deal was to create a work force of laborers (the WPA) to give many out of work Americans a job, hope, and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, so America could be great, again.
The WPA did everything from building the Griffith Conservatory in LA to refurbishing over 2500 fire houses, over 2000 sport stadiums in the United States to building the Hoover Dam, and Lock and Dam system on the Mississippi River. That was just a few of their projects. That is how the Moon River Cabins got their start, with the announcement or the construction of lock and Dam Twelve in Bellevue, Iowa.
It was such a large project that the local workforce wasn’t large enough to complete the project. The Army Corps of Engineers needed to import workers to get the job done in a timely fashion. These workers needed shelter so they built the cabins in 1933 partially with scrap materials from the government. They then built Lock and Dam Twelve, which is on the National Register of Historic Places today. It took almost five years to complete the project.
After the Army Corp of Engineers was finished the cabins and land were sold to the private sector. The cabins were used as fishing cabins and there are many stories of people that stayed there as newlyweds that couldn’t afford to buy a home, to people in transition in or out of Bellevue. They were bought and sold several times during those five decades.
They were known as “Wagner’s “Cabins when I moved to Bellevue to open it’s first Bed and Breakfast, Mont Rest. They were used mainly as fishing cabins. The Cabins were very clean, but had not been updated for a long time. The Wagners sold them to a couple from “up north “. They became known as Granny B’s Cabins and became littered with old trailers and junk. You could rent a cabin there for $35 a night. The cabins had become an eyesore in a town that‘s name means Beautiful view. The couple wanted to move on and they put the cabins up for sale in 2003.
That’s where I come in. I was tired of looking at them every time I traveled South on the Great River Road. I knew little about their rich history, I just knew they were ugly. I bought the property and started the much-needed renovations. I opened in 2004 as Moon River Cabins.
Today, I invite you to come and stay in a clean, up to date cabin on the bank of the Mississippi.