Ellston was incorporated as a town in 1881.
Surviving a major fire, the town of Ellston showed its determination and courage, so that its population peaked at around 300 in the early 1920's. It is on the Burlington route in Union. There were several businesses in Ellston. Included but not limited to were: hardware stores, general stores, hotels, harness makers, blacksmiths, implement dealers, banks, doctors, grain elevator, lumber yard, moving picture theater, real estate and auto dealers and restaurants.

Ellston was the first town in the county to establish a library. This was dedicated on May 13, 1900. A $200 collection of standard books, and the traveling library were placed in charge of the Home Culture Club.

Ellston is also home to one of the largest lakes in Iowa. Sun Valley lake is located northeast of Ellston about two miles. The first dirt work was started in 1969. Permits for the dam were issued Sept. 1, 1970 and two years later the dam was finished.

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