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Our Story

Nahant Marsh Today
Nahant Marsh preserve is one of the largest urban wetlands on the Upper Mississippi River. It is comprised of marshy areas, mesic, wet and sand prairie, and bottomland forest. A spring-fed quarry, known as Carp Lake, and the surrounding grounds, are part of the Nahant Marsh preserve as well. The 305-acre preserve is owned by the City of Davenport and the Nahant Marsh Board, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Conservation and restoration efforts on the preserve are directed by the Nahant Board. The educational programming is overseen by Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC). EICC’s Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) is also a critical part of Nahant Marsh.

 Click here to view the PDF version of our “Nahant Marsh- Natural History of an Urban Marsh” presentation. A PDF of our general brochure can be found here.

Our Historic Beginning
After years of being used as a sportsman’s club, investigations showed that the marsh had high levels of lead. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, River Action, Quad City Audubon Society, and Iowa DNR came together to try to save the marsh and conserve its biotic community. The EPA declared the marsh a Superfund Site and began an extensive cleanup of the lead. After the cleanup, wildlife and plant life showed a vast improvement. So much so, that it was decided to make the wetland nature preserve; thus the birth of what it is today. Below are a few links that tell the story of Nahant Marsh.

Click here to view the PDF version of our “EPA History” presentation.

You may also be interested in the 2011 document, “Restoring Our Resources: Iowa’s Nahant Marsh” U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.”

And the Iowa Public Television video, “Nahant Marsh Comeback.” 



Timeline of Nahant History

Pre-Civilization  Nahant began as an oxbow lake, an offshoot of the Mississippi. Silt filled in the area and it evolved into a wetland.
1700-1800s Area used for travel and bartering by Native Americans and settlers.
1814 War of 1812 – Battle of Credit Island
1833 First European American settlements appear.
1835 Village of Rockingham was settled across from the mouth of the Rock River
1837 Rockingham and Davenport hold multiple fraudulent elections to determine the county seat, Davenport emerges as the victor.
1900-1950 Area is well-known for its railyard, as well as its high crime and poverty rates
1969 Quad Cities Trap and Skeet Club Established
1994 Signs of lead poisoning appear in the marsh
1995 U.S. Fish and Wildlife a cleanup, EPA Contracted to clean up the lead shot in the marsh
1999 Cleanup completed, clubhouse converted into an education center
Nahant Marsh declared EPA Superfund Site
2000-Present Nahant is maintained as a nature preserve and education center

Upcoming Events

Homeschool Program

Homeschool Program

Jan 26, 2018 2:30pm - 4:00pm

Nahant Marsh Education Center provides a monthly program specifically geared towards homeschooled children grades K-9th. Each program includes a lesson,...

Breakfast Nature Club

Breakfast Nature Club

Feb 2, 2018 8:00am - 9:00am

Learn the secret life of Iowa's wildlife during this monthly class at Nahant Marsh. Each month we will explore the characteristics and adaptations of a...

Nature Hike

Nature Hike

Feb 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:00am

DCIM100MEDIA Join a Naturalist for a guided hike along the trails at the Marsh....

Family Program: Owls

Family Program: Owls

Feb 10, 2018 10:00am - 11:00am

In this family-friendly program, we will learn about owls. As nocturnal raptors, owls have many amazing adaptations to hunt prey at night. Learn about...

Winter Tree ID

Winter Tree ID

Feb 17, 2018 10:00am - 11:00am

Trees are fairly easy to identify when their foliage is full force, but identifying them in winter, well, that can be a bit tricky! In this class, participants...

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The Education Center is open
M-F: 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m.- Noon
Trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset.

If the main gate is locked, trails are accessible from the front parking lot. Look for the opening in the fence near the kiosk.