Humboldt creates a favorable impression on most every visitor to this scenic city. The city's founder, Stephen H. Taft, came from the east and fell in love at first sight. "I remember the delight with which I first looked upon this beautiful spot of the Des Moines valley. It was the afternoon of a perfect September day, and I can never forget the impression it made upon me by its wild and marvelous beauty," Taft wrote.

Taft laid out the town of Springvale (later to be renamed Humboldt) in 1863. Springvale was originally chosen as the town's name because of several fine springs which were found along the river. "Springvale was changed to Humboldt with the intent that under it, Dakota (City) and Springvale might be merged into one town," Taft wrote.

Humboldt County, formed in 1851, is one of the smallest counties in the state of Iowa, but wasn't always that way.

Humboldt County originally embraced 16 townships. On July 1, 1855, the Iowa General Assembly legislated Humboldt County out of existence and apportioned its territory equally between Kossuth County to the north and Webster County to the south. The county was re-established with the original boundaries on February 26, 1857. By some manipulation of the bill, however, it was found after its passage, that the southern tier of townships had been erased from the bill and given to Webster County. It was approved in this form. Webster County would not relinquish the land it gained from Humboldt County, and the courts held that the new Constitution prevailed. Thus, Humboldt County has just 12 townships and is one of the smallest counties in the state.

Humboldt College opened in 1872 on the north edge of Humboldt. In 1916, the college closed after a disagreement with the county over taxes. The college was moved to Minneapolis and became the Humboldt Institute.

Humboldt is noted for its wide streets, a characteristic attributed to its founder, Stephen Taft. The town has continued to grow and prosper throughout the years, with about 4,500 people calling Humboldt home today.

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