Fort Dodge traces its beginnings to 1850 when soldiers from the United States Army erected a fort at the junction of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek. It was named after Henry Dodge, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin.
The fort was abandoned in 1853 and the next year William Willams, purchased the land and buildings of the old fort. The town of Fort Dodge was founded in 1869. In 1872 the long and continuing history of gypsum production in Iowa started when three men formed the Fort Dodge Plaster Mills to mine, grind, and prepare gypsum for commercial use.