The town of Knowlton was located about 2 miles northeast of Diagonal. Originally it was to be called "Indianville" because of its proximity to an old Indian settlement. Later it was named Knowlton after a railroad official.

About 1885 the first steam engine drawn train passed through Knowlton. Knowlton became the main coaling station, even after the town of Diagonal got a depot. The railroad kept the town alive through the 1920's.

In 1898, there were two churches, two hotels, groceries, hardware, general stores, milliners, gristmill, livery stables, mortician, barber, restaurant, post office, and a foundry. Two doctors served the community: Dr. Syp and Dr. E.J. Watson. The local newspaper was published under five different masts including: Knowlton World, Knowlton Sentinel and Knowlton News. The population was listed at 450.

In July 1902, Ideal Farm Implement Company of Fort Madison, started a factory at Knowlton. A large building was erected for this purpose. It did not really start until 1906 and several loads of packers were shipped to Texas. In 1909, it had burned and they talked of rebuilding, but this is the last account we have of it.

Knowlton school had been organized as an independent district in 1893 and the building had been built in 1891 at a cost of $3,000. The first graduating class was in 1900.

Disastrous fires, like this one in 1895; the proximity of Diagonal and the closing of the school eventually led to the decline of this pioneer town.

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