In the spring of 1861, a tiny settlement known as Calliope sprouted next to the Big Sioux River, at the north edge of what is now Hawarden. By 1869, Calliope consisted of a court house, three log houses, and ten residents. Indian uprisings caused the residents to abandon the new settlement for two years to seek protection in the more populated Sioux City. On their return to Calliope, they found the courthouse still standing, unmarked by prairie fires. Three years later, with more settlers coming into the area, a county government was formed.
By 1872, Calliope was a prospering settlement with a store, twelve houses, the courthouse, a newspaper and a schoolhouse. A stage line was formed to carry the mail and allow settlers to travel to Sioux City and other points in the area. Homes along the route served as post offices. Stages ran three times a week, irregularly, as the trail permitted.
In 1878, the Milwaukee Road Railroad established a station near Calliope. In that same year, the village was platted and placed among the other established towns of Iowa. In the years that followed, many stores were built, hotels, and a bridge over the big Sioux that allowed farmers to bring their products to market in Calliope. In 1883, the brickyard fired over 100,000 bricks in their kilns. There was much optimism in the community as the Northwestern Railroad decided to extend its line from Maurice through Calliope and the Dakotas, and announced plans to build a station in Calliope.
But the railroad was unable to get a necessary grant of land from the federal government, and the Northwestern station was built a mile south of Calliope. A new settlement, known as Hawarden, sprang up around the railroad station.
Problems continued to mount for tiny Calliope when hail wiped out crops in the area. That spelled economic disaster for the agriculture-based Calliope. In March of 1885, Calliope was struck another economic blow when the bridge across the Big Sioux River was washed out, cutting off easy access to and from South Dakota. Calliope gradually faded as its neighbor to the south, Hawarden, prospered as a rail center, and businesses and homes clustered around the newer community.
Over the years, virtually everything but the memory of Calliope disappeared. What had once been a prospering, vibrant village on the banks of the Big Sioux River, is today a neighborhood on the northern edge of Hawarden.