The Madrid area was first settled around 1846 by Swedish settlers and was originally named Swede Point. With the construction of both an east-west and north-south railroad line in 1881, the town began to grow and prosper. The name was changed to Madrid in 1883. Like most Iowa towns, Madrid’s economy was based on agriculture; however, coal mining was a major industry from 1910 to 1945. During that period many Italians and Croatians immigrated to Madrid to work in the mines. To memorialize its mining roots, Madrid features a statue of a coal miner along Highway 17. The Madrid Historical Museum features a life size replica of a portion of a coal mine and a scale model of one of the area coal mines.
A map of the coal mines and the miner can be seen on Highway 17 by the railroad tracks and Madrid Sign.
Our town is the oldest continuously inhabited Swedish settlement west of the Mississippi River. The population has grown from about 1,000 citizens in 1910 to about 2,500 today.