In 1854 the land which is the present site of Nodaway was bought from the government. It was virgin soil with timber covering the greater part of the territory. As the small settlement grew on the banks of the East Nodaway River, settlers felt the need to give it a name. Originally named “East Nodaway”, the townspeople also tried out “Rachelle” for awhile settling on its permanent name of Nodaway. A stage coach trail led visitors and new residents into the area. In 1869 the railroad was completed through Nodaway. The first business was the general store, followed by a hotel, restaurant, and then hardware store. Other significant enterprises consisted of a mill, dairies, ice cream factory, newspaper and bank. However, of all the businesses which flourished, the buying and selling of livestock topped the list. Working together for a common cause was at the heart of the early settlers. That heart still abounds in Nodaway, perhaps never so much as during their annual festival, the Nodaway Corn Carnival, which began in 1913 and is still celebrated annually each September.
Local residents work hard to preserve their heritage and take pride in the work they do together. Their volunteer firefighters are always close by and willing to give a helping hand. No one is ever a stranger long in this open and friendly hometown. Nodaway is just a few friendly miles south of Highway 34 on the western edge of Adams County.