The Julien Dubuque Monument stands on the edge of the bluff above Catfish Creek in the Mines of Spain Recreation Area.
This area is important historically in the Indian-French fur trading culture and the first record of lead mining by a French trader, Nicholas Perrot, in 1690. In 1788 Julien Dubuque was granted rights by the Mesquakie Indians to mine their land for lead. Dubuque settled close to the village of Kettle Chief just south of where the Julien Dubuque Monument now stands. It was here that Dubuque founded the first Euro-American settlement in what is now Iowa.
The Mines Of Spain
Spanish influence was growing throughout the new land and Dubuque, concerned about the legality of his grant from the Indians, petitioned the Spanish governor seeking permanent possession of the land. In 1796 Dubuque's petition was granted and he named his 189 square mile area of land "The Mines of Spain" in honor of this Spanish governor.
Dubuque eventually married Potosa, daughter of Peosta, the chief of the Mesquakie Indians. Dubuque died in March of 1810 and when he died the Mesquakie buried him with tribal honors beneath a log mausoleum at the site of the current monument. The Julien Dubuque monument was built in 1897 and sits high above the Mississippi River. It overlooks the Mines of Spain property in the town that would eventually bear his name.
Location: Julien Dubuque Drive – Mines of Spain Recreation Area Year Constructed: 1897 Style: Late Gothic Revival Date listed on National Register of Historic Places: November 21, 1988
The monument is constructed of rock-faced limestone ashlar, a Galena limestone mined from a nearby quarry. This cylindrical tower is 12 feet wide and 25 feet high with walls approximately 18 inches in width. The bonding material and floor are cement. A rectangular, roughly shaped stone embedded in the center of the floor marks the grave site of Julien Dubuque. The door-like rectangular opening overlooks the Mississippi River. There are narrow, rectangular openings on the upper portion of the monument and the top section is crenellated. The shape, massiveness, narrow windows, crenellation, and materials intentionally suggest a medieval form, a castle, feature common to the Late Gothic Revival most commonly used between 1860 and 1890.