Arbor Inn is centrally located in Leon, Iowa, two blocks north of the intersection
of Highways 2 & 69 and four miles East of US Interstate 35 (exit 12), just 60
minutes south of Des Moines and 15 minutes from Lamoni.
Leon, the county seat of Decatur County, sits among beautiful wooded rolling
hills, filled with an abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams in south central
Leon has excellent park and recreation facilities which includes Little River
Recreation Area. A 787 acre lake contributes to a rare outdoor recreational
experience. There are more than 100 modern and primitive campsites available,
as well as, picnic facilities, beach areas, boat ramps, bait concessions, boat
rental, playgrounds and shelter houses. There are trails for hiking, biking,
horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Upland game and water fowl hunting is another prime attraction with over 4500
acres of public hunting. More than a 1000 acres of lakes and 38 miles of river
waterways lie within 1/2 mile to 15 miles of the city limits.
Other facilities within the city limits include three public parks meeting a
variety of recreational needs, including Leon municipal swimming pool, a band
shelter, picnic playground areas, ball fields and basketball courts.
The Decatur County Fair Grounds serves as an entrance to the 1.8 mile concrete
paved Little River Scenic Pathway. Enjoy nature while hiking, biking, jogging or
exercising at various fitness areas along the trail or just take a leisurely stroll
and enjoy a picnic.
A beautiful country club with modern clubhouse has a scenic 9 hole-36 par grass
green golf course with reasonable green fees for visitors.
In downtown Leon you will find craft and antique shops as well as the Decatur
County Historical Museum. The history of Decatur County is portrayed in vignettes,
from a blacksmith shop to a sitting room. Genealogists find this a great resource
facility. Another building is home to a collection of antique farm machinery.
A vintage vaudeville theater operated by South Central Iowa Theater (SCIT), a
nonprofit corporation supplemented by volunteers, provides movies on Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday evenings, as well as, live theater performances throughout
On January 18, 1851, an act of the Iowa Legislature was approved, appointing
commissioners and providing a county seat town on the main road from Fort Des
Moines to Independence Missouri, to be called Decatur City. There were many
people in the county who claimed that the selection of the county seat had
been illegal. The General Assembly accordingly ordered an election to take
place the first Monday in April 1853 to decide again on the location of the
county seat. The vote was counted and showed the majority in favor of removing
the county seat to a more central location. The new town was to be named
Independence. There being another settlement of that name in Iowa, the name
was changed to South Independence. The Legislature in the winter of 1854-55
changed the name to Leon in compliance with a petition of the citizens. It
is said that the name Leon was suggested by W.H. Cheevers who became attracted
by it while serving as soldier in the Mexican War.
The first residence log cabin in Leon was located on the lot now occupied by
the city garage. After the town was surveyed, Dr. S.C. Thompson built a house
and office on the lot now occupied by Mallatt's Apartments. I.N. Clark constructed
the first commercial business, a general store, on an adjacent lot. In 1854, the
first school was erected in Leon. At the close of that year the town had four
stores and about forty residences. Soon a sufficient number of settlers arrived
to justify the establishment of a post office and Joshua Davis was the first
From 1853 until the commencement of the Civil War, the growth in population was
quite rapid and the town enjoyed lucrative trade. In 1880 the population 1,367;
in l900, 1620; and in 1920, 2009. The census has averaged around 2000 to present
- excerpt from speech given by Loring Miller at the Iowa Sesquicentennial
Statehood Stamp Unveiling Ceremony at Leon Post Office, Friday, August 2, l996.