With a population of a little over 4300, Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa. The town was founded on September 10, 1849. Chariton’s position in Iowa is unique in that it is situated exactly half way between the eastern border of Nebraska and the western border of Illinois on U.S. 34 in southern Iowa. U.S. 34 is a major highway that runs across 4 states, from Illinois to Colorado. The town was named after Chariton Point, a point that divides the Des Moines/Mississippi River drainage from the Chariton/Missouri River drainage. Today, the courthouse sits on this divide.
One of the village’s most famous sites is the Hotel Charitone which is listed with the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance. It is considered one of Iowa’s most endangered historical sites and is currently in the process of restoration, which includes converting most of the hotel into apartments.
Chariton is not but a mile from the Red Haw State Park that includes a 70-acre lake for fishing, hiking trails and camping sites. In the spring, from middle to late April, when thousands of red bud trees bloom, visitors are stunned by the beauty and serenity of the area. The town of Chariton celebrates the annual event of Red Bud Days during April.
A major contributor to the economy in the area includes Hy-Vee, a major grocery chain. Agriculture also plays an important role, as it has since the town’s inception.
Chariton is home to one high school that serves all of Lucas County, two elementary schools, and one middle school. The average home value in the area as of 2012 was $76,088, up from $50,700 in 2000. Average rent in 2012 was $443.