city, seat (1856) of Webster county, north-central Iowa, U.S. It is situated on both sides of the Des Moines River at its juncture with Lizard Creek, about 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Des Moines. It originated around Fort Clarke, which was established in 1850 to protect settlers from the Sioux, and was renamed the following year for Henry Dodge, U.S. senator from Wisconsin who had fought in the Black Hawk War and other conflicts with Native Americans. When the fort was abandoned in 1853, Major William Williams bought the land and buildings and laid out the town the next year. The community developed as a market-processing centre for the surrounding farmlands and for the area's large gypsum deposits; gypsum quarried near Fort Dodge was used for a statue that was purported to be a petrified prehistoric man in the celebrated Cardiff Giant hoax.
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