Columbus Junction, Iowa was an hour South of Cedar Rapids on our trip. Originally known as Sand Bank, the city lies at the confluence of the Iowa and the Cedar rivers. The first Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railway train arrived on February 7, 1870, and a restaurant and boarding house — the first local business — opened the next day.
The population of the area, including Columbus Junction, Columbus City and Fredonia, is about 2,500 residents.
Immigration is an important chapter in the story of Columbus Junction. Immigrants from Mexico began coming to the area in the early 1900s to work on the railroad, and more recently men and women from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba came to the region to work at the Tyson Foods pork processing plant located outside of town.
Hispanics and multicultural with Hispanic heritage make up about half of the local population, and of those people about half are immigrants and first generation. The latest wave of immigrants are refugees from the Chin State of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. One of those Chin Burmese refugees, Ngun Za Bik, lived in the Malaysian jungle for 14 years to escape religious persecution. He come to United States and opened his Grace Chin Grocery Store alongside the Mexican and Hispanic restaurants line Main Street.