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In 2001, extensive archaeological excavations were conducted at the Oneida Cheese Factory in Jones County. The county is a microcosm of larger dairying trends found throughout northeast Iowa, the state's premier dairy-producing region, Jones County moved from homemade cheese and butter production by farm women, to the industrialization of the dairy farm and opening of cheese factories and butter creameries. A number of innovations affected the industry around the turn-of-the-twentieth century, including reliable butterfat testing, the introduction of ensilage (silos) that created year round milk production, and consolidation of the many local creameries into larger creamery organizations, such as the Diamond Creamery run by Henry D. Sherman of Jones County. Iowa's dairy industry of today looks very different from its heritage: consolidation and competition have drastically reduced the number of cows, dairy farms, and processing plants. In recent years, northeast Iowa has become the center of a movement to revitalize Iowa's dairy industry, particularly through the use of value-added strategies, such as niche markets and large regional co-operatives: the lessons from Iowa's dairying legacy are resurfacing as a solution to modern agricultural challenges

Publication Date



Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa


Iowa City, Iowa

Total Pages

36 pages


Document sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation through an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration and the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Rights Information

Copyright © 2005 University of Iowa

Little Dairy on the Prairie: From Butter-makin' Women to High-tech Agriculture