Iowa author shares how she brings history alive in CF Library event

“I write for the next generation,” Linda McCann said as she gave her author presentation at the Cedar Falls Public Library at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23.

McCann writes mostly historical novels about Iowa and its numerous counties. Some of her titles include Prisoners Of War In Iowa, Cedar Valley Road, Lost Black Hawk County Towns, Civilian Conservation Corps In Southeast Iowa and Riverside Cemetery. Her latest title, Prisoners OF War In Iowa, was for sale, among other books, such as Cedar Valley Road at the presentation.

In starting her writing career, McCann said, “Initially, I didn’t feel as though I needed to write,”  but she became interested in her own family genealogy and discovered interesting facts about her family heritage. This led to a history obsession about her hometown. Two topics from McCann’s literary explorations in history included lost towns and how trolley systems saved lives in Iowa.

The first topic, lost towns, began when she discovered how many towns have gone missing from modern Iowan maps. In McCann’s The Lost Town series, she highlights 95 named locations in Iowa. Some of the lost towns include a town called Cedar Heights, which used to be its own town with its own police department, but was wiped off maps after population decreases. Now there is a school in Iowa called Cedar Heights, but the original town became “lost.” A similar twist awaited the town of North Cedar, which transformed from a populous town to a lost town with only a named school and the memories of past residents to remember it by.

The second topic McCann shared at the library, trolleys saving lives, included information about the trolley systems that frequented Iowa in the late nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century. McCann told a story about a trolley system experience she learned about when interviewing people who remember the trolleys. 

A man in the late 1910s was reported to have passed out near one of the trolley stations due to a medical condition. The trolley conductor saw the man lying on the ground and managed through the trolley system to get the man to a medical facility and save his life. The family of the man heavily appreciated the trolley system, and reported this appreciation to McCann when she was writing about the systems. “The trollies saved lives,” McCann said, and in sharing this at the Cedar Falls Library, McCann and her books not only entertained readers and watchers of her presentation, but she also encouraged them to explore the power of history within their own communities.

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