Our Story

Drone view of the Marsh

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 a nature preserve and Nahant Marsh Education Center was born. Click here for our EPA Cleanup Presentation. 

Nahant Marsh Today

The Nahant Marsh preserve is the largest urban wetland 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).

Click here to view the PDF version of our "Nahant Marsh- Natural History of an Urban Marsh" presentation. You may also be interested in the 2001 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