Town of Portsmouth Iowa
Town of Portsmouth Iowa

The History of Our City

Established in 1882• population 225

"The Biggest Little Town in the USA"

In Shelby County, Iowa, located at the intersection of Hwys 191 and 44 in the heart of southwest Iowa’s picturesque countryside. Utility & Telecommunication providers

Water:  Shelby County Rural Water.-- administered by city

Gas:  MidAmerican Energy Co.

Electricity: MidAmerican Energy Co.

Phone and Internet Service: Windstream, Western Iowa Wireless

Cable Service: none.

Cellular Service: Cellular One, Verizon & FMCTC wireless.

Municipal Services

Council/Mayor government

Comprehensive city plan: yes

City Zoning ordinance in effect: yes

County Zoning ordinance in effect:  yes

Subdivision ordinance with design standards in effect: no

Number of volunteer fire department personnel: 30

Fire insurance class in city: 8  

Fire insurance class outside city: 9

Police Protection: Shelby County Sheriff's Department

Industrial waste pickup service: yes

Percentage of city streets hard surfaced: 100%


Youth attend either the Harlan Community Schools  (K-12)  or the Shelby County Catholic School (preK - 8) in Harlan. Shelby County schools are among the State’s leaders in combining a top-quality academic education, with a wide variety of successful extracurricular activities.  For more information, see the Quality of Life tab in your resource guide.

Business & Industry

It has a viable business community including: Shelby County State Bank (full service banking - 4 employees); Farm Service Coop (farm supply and hardware - 6 employees); Club 191 (restaurant and supper club known in wide area for great food - 6 employees); The Rocket (bar and grill made famous by Peanuts then Avis).


St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Bragging Rights

A very friendly community of strong German-Catholic heritage and work ethic. It is conveniently located at the junction of State Highways 44 and 191 and served by the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.


St. Mary's Catholic Church, Our Lady of Fatima - built in 1890 and constructed of bricks made locally, the Church was destroyed by a tornado in 1940. Rebuilding in 1951 included construction of the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine using Ozark stone and Tennessee flagstone and also included white Carrara Marble statues imported from Italy. In 1982 the interior of the Romanesque church was renovated.


 St. Mary's Parish Picnic - held annually every summer to celebrate the Church and Community.


    The land on which Portsmouth stands was originally owned by William Williams, who built a log cabin home there in the 1860's. The early settlement grew to be known as the "Cologne Settlement" and in 1886 it moved into Portsmouth. The town began its existence with the coming of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railway and on August 8, 1882 the Milwaukee Land Co. platted the land for the City.



Find information about the local city offices of Portsmouth. Who is responsible for what? What is the contact information for the individual departments?  
Click here for more information.


Check out the Events page to find out what is going on in our beautiful town.

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