Transportation, Utilities and Communications

Moving goods and services from Palo Alto County to major markets is easily achievable with air, rail, highway & high-speed internet service. Local utilities and cooperatives serve the area with gas, electricity and communications.


Highway Access — With 569 square miles of roadway in Palo Alto County, moving goods and services to market is easy. There is 174 miles of paved roadways and 768 miles of granular surfaced roadways.  U.S. Hwy 18  and State Highways 4 and 15 crisscross the county.

Alternative Transportation — A unique program supported by RIDES provides low-cost bus service within the county. RIDES transit buses operate throughout Northwest Iowa.  In addition, a weekday ride service in Emmetsburg offers subsidized fares for all riders.

Rail — Two rail lines service Palo Alto County:

  • Union Pacific — Rail extends north/south through Palo Alto County and allows freight to travel to all major Midwestern trade centers.
  • Canadian Pacific – Provides provide freight service to metropolitan trade centers. Services Mason City, Dubuque, Davenport, Ottumwa, Kansas City, MO and Chicago, IL.


  • Primary air access is available at the Emmetsburg Municipal Airport. It has Fuel-100LL, Rotating Beacon, pcc surfaced runway – 13/31 20’ wide x 3,401’ length, turf runway – 17/35 150’ wide x 2,170’ length, Unicom-122.8, NBD-410.00 (EGQ), vor-110.00 (SPW).
  • Commercial air service is provided within one-two hours to the south at Fort Dodge Regional Airport (FOD) and to the east at Mason City Municipal Airport (MCW). Connecting flights are offered to Minneapolis at these airports.


Five municipal utilities and two rural electric cooperatives are advantageous to Palo Alto County residents. Publicly-owned electric service providers offer rates often below those of a private utility and offer local service for repairs with quick response times.

Emmetsburg, Graettinger, and West Bend operate municipal utilities with service territories extending beyond city limits.

Other utility providers include Alliant Energy, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, and MidAmerican Energy.


Rural living in Palo Alto County means that you are well-connected to the world.  Each community has a fiber optics line available for telephone communications and Internet access with high-speed capabilities.  Local service providers include Northwest Communications and River Valley Telecommunications Cooperative.

Utilities in Palo Alto County Iowa

BusinessServicesRegion ServedContactPhoneWebsite
Alliant EnergyElectric | GasElectric: Ledyard, Swea City, Lakota, Titonka, Fenton, Lone Rock, Wesley, Seneca, Sexton, St. Benedict
Gas: Ledyard, Swea City, Lakota, Bancroft
719 N 18th Street
Centerville, IA 52544
Ayrshire Farmers Mutual Telephone CoTelephone | Cable TV | InternetTelephone: Ayrshire
Cable: Ayrshire & Cylinder
Internet: Ayrshire & Cylinder
1405 Sliver Lake Ave
P.O. Box 248
Ayrshire, IA 50515
Ayrshire Water DepartmentWaterAyrshire1204 Campbell
PO Box 355
Ayrshrie, IA 50515
Bolten & MenkSewerCylinder1609 Hwy 18 E
Algona, IA 50511
City of MallardWater | Sewer | Garbage | RecyclingMallardBecky Larson
605 Inman
Mallard, IA 50562
Iowa Lakes Electric CoopElectricNorthern Kossuth CountyRick Olesen
President & CEO
702 South 1st Street
Estherville, IA 51334
ITC Midwest LLCElectricTroy Weary
100 E. Grand Avenue, Ste 230
Des Moines, IA 50309
MidAmerican Energy CompanyElectric | GasElectric: Emmetsburg, Cylinder, Ruthven, Ayrshire
Gas: Ruthven, Cylinder
666 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309
Northwest Telephone Co-Op AssnCommunicationsDon Miller, CEO
844 Wood Street
P.O. Box 186
Havelock, IA 50546
Ruthven Municipal UtilityWater | Sewer | GarbageRuthvenMargaret Tatman
1305 Gowrie St
Ruthven, IA 51358