Slater was formed in 1883 as a railroad crossing. Originally referred to as the Sheldahl Crossing since a small portion of Sheldahl residents moved their homes and businesses to be near the depot, it was later renamed Slater and was incorporated in 1890.
Today, Slater has a population of just under 1,500. The Heart of Iowa Trail runs through town and the community also offers 3 city parks, Slater Municipal Pool, baseball and softball leagues, and a soccer club. The Ballard Community School District's elementary school is also located in Slater.