Thomas Mitchell Park was named after Polk County’s earliest Anglo-American settler, Thomas Mitchell. In 1844, Mitchell obtained early access to the Iowa Territory from Captain Allen, commander of Fort Des Moines. In exchange, Mitchell built a bridge over Camp Creek which was often impassible to wagons traveling from Keokuk and Iowa City to Fort Des Moines. He also built the Apple Grove Inn, in what is today’s Thomas Mitchell Park. Thomas Mitchell was not only an innkeeper, but also a farmer, legislator, sheriff, and operator of a stop on the Underground Railroad.