Arcadia was laid out in 1871. It was named for the region of Arcadia, in Greece. The date of incorporation of Arcadia was 1881. According of the census carried out in the year before, Arcadia had 450 inhabitants. The original name of the town was "Tip Top", chosen for its location on the Missouri-Mississippi Divide and it being Iowa's topographically most elevated town. In 1880, a large fire destroyed most of the business section of Arcadia. Only 2 buildings were spared by the fire. Most of the work for restoring the destroyed buildings was completed within a year after the event.