It’s not very often that you get to experience what life was like over 150 years ago, but here in Iowa, we are lucky enough to have several historical villages where life at the time of the first settlers has been preserved and recreated for our enjoyment. Next time you feel like taking a trip into the past, check out one of these 10 historical villages in Iowa:
1. Shelby County Historical Settlement, Harlan
The Shelby County Historical Settlement is an extensive museum that houses artifacts from a wide selection of Iowa history. Their collection ranges from prehistoric artifacts that date back to the time woolly mammoths walked the land, to Native American artifacts, to items from the first settlers back in the 1840s and 1850s. There are also two old cabins dating back to 1856 and 1857 that give visitors a detailed look into the life of an Iowa pioneer.
2. Guthrie County Historical Village, Panora
The Guthrie County Historical Village is located in a beautiful area on the southwest side of Panora, just a few blocks away from the scenic Middle Raccoon River. The Village features 12 buildings (including a blacksmith, a church, a schoolhouse, a general store, and more) a Milwaukee caboose, numerous exhibits, and thousands of artifacts that explore the history of Guthrie County from 1850 to the early-20th Century.
3. Kalona Historical Village, Kalona
Stroll through this scenic 1800s village and explore pioneer life in 13 authentic buildings. Each structure has been painstakingly restored and filled with interesting and informative displays depicting the rugged years the immigrant settlers spent taming the Iowa prairie.
4. Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Cedar Rapids
Ushers Ferry features 20 historic buildings that depict life in a small Iowa town between the years of 1890 and 1910. Take a guided tour through the village, and see what life was life in a different time.
5. Pella Historical Village, Pella
If you want to feel like you stepped into Holland, visit Pella. If you want to feel like you stepped into the past in Holland, visit the Pella Historical Village. Take a tour of the Vermeer Windmill Museum, the old Amsterdam School, and the Scholte House Museum to get a feel for the history of this unique town.
6. Union County Historical Village, Creston
This 1890s village offers a look into the early life of Iowa's settlers through a tour of this historic settlement. They offer a caboose, schoolhouse, depot, blacksmith shop, church and barn, all furnished with period items.
7. Edinburgh Historical Village, Scotch Grove
This re-created pioneer village in Scotch Grove offers a look at the early life in Jones County, from Civil War to antique farm equipment. The area offers several period buildings, including: a vet's office, a doctor's office, a church, schoolhouse, blacksmith, and more.
8. Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village, Long Grove
Walnut Grove was a Scott County cross-roads settlement and stage coach stop in the 1860s. The village includes 18 historic buildings, some relocated from rural Scott County, including: a barber shop, saloon, church, bank, train depot, and more.
9. Harrison County Historical Village, Missouri Valley
This open-air museum complex is straight out of the 1800s, with an original log cabin, general store, and school to show visitors what life was life in the early days of the Iowa settlers.
10. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch
Back in 1874, Herbert Hoover was born in a two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa. After moving on to become the 31st president of the U.S., his birthplace was made into a national historic site. Several other historic buildings in the area have been preserved, to create an open-air museum that shows what early life was like for our 31st president.
We’re truly lucky to be able to experience so much of our history still today. Know of any more historical villages in Iowa? Share them with us!