Rolfe High School Alumni Web Site: Graphic by Wendy Bennett

About Rolfe
text last updated April 10, 2007

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Rolfe Alumni Reunion 2013
Last Graduation 1990
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2003 Greater Rolfe Days parade

Rolfe is located in Pocahontas County, a flat but gently undulating agricultural area in northwest Iowa. The town was established in 1863 on a hill overlooking the Des Moines River and had the county court house. Eventually, Pocahontas, which was more centrally located, became the county seat, and Rolfe was relocated to its current site—a move of three miles to the southwest—to be closer to the intersection of two rail lines.

According to the 2000 census, Rolfe has 672 residents, down from Rolfe's estimated population of 1,200 people in 1904. The loss of population has been related to a general decline in agricultural prosperity in the Midwest over the past few decades, and Pocahontas County is the county with the largest percentage loss in Iowa in recent years.

Corn and soybean agriculture is the main industry in the county, and the tall Pro Cooperative grain elevators dominate the Rolfe skyline. There is talk that a non-local corporation has bought farm land immediately southwest of town with the intention of building an ethanol plant in the next few years. The facility will surely change the Rolfe skyline and have other major impacts on the community.

Area farmers and other folk wanting the latest community news convene at the Co-op for coffee or simply to talk. The Pronto Store is another hub of conversation. It is a convenience store with gasoline pumps at the only stop light intersection in town. ROPA’s café and the 10th Hole restaurant and lounge provide noontime and evening meals and a place for hobnobbing. Also, a variety of citizens gather at the Rolfe Public Library on Wednesday mornings for coffee, conversation, and occasional special features.

Rolfe used to be served by two railroad companies, the Chicago and Northwestern and the Minneapolis and St. Louis. Now there is only one line. It is owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The tracks going east of Rolfe have been converted into the Three Rivers Trail that crosses the Des Moines River, goes through Humboldt and ends near Eagle Grove, a distance of some 40 miles.

There is a mile-long, wide remnant of native prairie along the railroad tracks immediately west of town and a triangle of prairie a few miles southeast of town where the tracks and two gravel intersect. Also, there are many gardeners in the community.

The Rolfe Golf Club has a fine nine-hole golf course and an air-conditioned clubhouse. The town also has several parks, including the Sunset Ridge park with a beautiful pond where people often fish. It has picnic facilities, playground equipment, and a shelter with restrooms and showers. Streit Park has both a historic cabin and country school house. Rolfe is also fortunate to have a public swimming pool.

Rolfe has three churches: the Rolfe Shared Ministry (Methodists and Presbyterians), St. Margaret's Catholic Church, and St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

Two organizations have missions specifically designed to promote the well being of Rolfe. The Rolfe Enrichment committee raised funds and oversaw construction of a new community center/ city hall/library complex that was supported by private donations and a large grant from the USDA. The building opened in 2004 and houses city offices, the public library, and a large community room.

Rolfe Betterment Incorporated (RBI) organizes the annual Greater Rolfe Days celebration held in July as well as other projects such as the community-wide garage sale, bingo nights, and a holiday visit by Santa Claus. New projects for 2007 include four rodeos on July 7 and 28, August 18, and September 22 and the Medieval Harvest Faire on August 17-19.

Philanthropic and service organizations include Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, Friends of the Library, Omicron Sorority, PEO Sisterhood, Rolfe Lions Club, and VFW Auxiliary #7709.

Rolfe has more than 50 businesses and service providers. Some are common in small Iowa towns: beauticians, the farmer's cooperative, jewelry /art/ gift shops, insurance agents, people who do building construction, music teachers, the post office, repair shops, seed companies, trucking companies, and a video store.

Other services and facilities not always found in small towns include a full-fledged public library with an up-to-date computerized cataloging system, Bill's Food Store, the Rolfe Care Center, Powers Funeral Home, artisans, electricians, a plumbing and heating store, a lumber store, a veterinary clinic, an attorney, a licensed massage therapist, and the Rolfe State Bank. The latter is an independent institution that is much more than a bank with financial planning, insurance, and real estate businesses under its roof and the staff often going beyond the call of duty to serve the community.

Other enterprises that set Rolfe apart include Chris Cakes Pancake Catering, which is well-known for providing pancake meals for fund-raisers and other special events around the state; Dutchland Dairy with a herd of 700 cows; the Flower Bin greenhouse; Wild Faces Gallery with original art and framing services by Mona Majorowitz; Stella's original jewelry and gifts, and Wagner Truck and Autos for used vehicles.

Rolfe has a strong educational heritage and had a full K-12 program until 1990 when its last senior class graduated. Rolfe then became part of the Pocahontas Area Community School District and, for a number of years, was home to some elementary classes and the PAC middle school.

In the spring of 2004, the state fire marshal determined that the Rolfe building should be closed after bricks fell from the upper part of the south face of the building, destabilizing the infrastructure. The PAC school board decided to raze the old part of the building that had been built in 1917. Now all public school students from the Rolfe area attend school in Pocahontas. A revolving Rolfe High School alumni committee holds an all-class reunion once every five years, and there is the Rolfe alumni web site.

Rolfe's motto has been, "Some bigger, none better." Some of the community’s leaders and volunteers are the best you could find anywhere. Among them are dedicated people who help others through home health care programs, hospice, the care center, ambulance service, fire department, youth programs, library, churches, schools, disaster relief, and other endeavors.

If you ask local Rolfe people if there is anything newsworthy in the community, they will often say there isn't. However, a lot more happens than shows up in the Pocahontas Record-Democrat, the newspaper that serves the area, and there is certainly a lot more commerce, social life, and community service than meets the eye of the casual observer who drives through town on State Highway 15.

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