|“The Valley of the Red Cedar is in eastern Iowa—a long strip of fertile land sprawling out beside the river whose name it bears. The Red Cedar River itself is not much more than a sturdy creek until joined by the waters of the Shell Rock and West Fork where it suddenly becomes of importance, a thing of width and depth with the right to boast of having mothered many a sawmill, grist-mill, and factory before a wheel on its banks was turned by electricity.”
- Bess Streeter Aldrich, Song of Years
This poetic description gives a sense of the early settlement of Cedar Falls—a community that grew out of the Cedar River, alongside Waterloo. The river shaped the city to be what it is today, drawing settlers with its rushing waters.