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Walnut Grove Pioneer Village: History on Display in Long Grove, Iowa

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

St. Ann's Church in background with a couple of the old cabins in Walnut Grove Pioneer Village

St. Ann's Church in background with a couple of the old cabins in Walnut Grove Pioneer Village

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village

Not too far from where my aunt and uncle live in Iowa is the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. It is a part of Scott County Park, and the pioneer village provides a tangible and interactive history lesson as one can step back into time and see how people used to live and work from the 1830s to the 1930s.

Park Visitor Information

The address is 18817 290th Street, Long Grove, Iowa 52756. Except for special occasions when there might be some extra charges, the park is open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM, from April to October, and suggested donations are $2 for adults, $1 for kids, and under 5, free of charge.

The school, blacksmith shop, and at least one of the cabins were all original to this site. Relocated to this three-acre area from other locations where the buildings might have been in danger of neglect or eventual demolition are eighteen other historic structures.

A stagecoach stop in the 1860s, this original settlement of Walnut Grove would have been a hub of activity for that day and time. There was a grist mill, and people came from the surrounding farmlands to this site to also receive and send their mail.

The village is a re-creation of an 1860s Scott County cross-roads settlement and is made up of 18 historic buildings

The village is a re-creation of an 1860s Scott County cross-roads settlement and is made up of 18 historic buildings

St. Ann's Church

St. Ann's Church (c. 1853–1870) was relocated to this spot. It is a beautiful little white steepled Catholic Church with an ornate altar and colorful stained glass windows.

Today it is used for weddings, and some newlyweds choose to have their nuptials performed in this charming little historic church.

The Walnut Grove Bank

The bank building (c. 1890) has an interesting free-standing safe relocated from another bank, the German Savings Bank, in Eldridge. I wonder if any bandits ever succeeded in robbing that secure-looking safe?

Keppy and Nagle General Store

The Keppy and Nagle General Store has crocks, jars, and other containers that would have held the usual supplies offered for sale in bygone days.

All of these historic buildings are open for viewing. Some of them have bars or screening through which one can view the room contents. This screening protects the materials so that everything stays untouched and in good shape for everyone to enjoy.

Butler Township Schoolhouse #2

The one-roomed Butler Township Schoolhouse #2 dates back to 1870. The schoolhouse has double wooden desks and a pot belied stove for use as a heater in the room's center. Adorning the walls were the slate blackboards and framed photos of United States Presidents and geography maps.

Of course, every schoolhouse had a world globe and an American flag at the front of the room. An eighth-grade education was a good one in that day and time!

Partial view of the one-roomed Butler Township Schoolhouse #2 at Walnut Grove - (photos pieced together...windows were not crooked as this would suggest)

Partial view of the one-roomed Butler Township Schoolhouse #2 at Walnut Grove - (photos pieced together...windows were not crooked as this would suggest)

More to See!

Some of the other on-site buildings include the following: a barbershop, doctor's office, firehouse, saloon, carpenter shop, telephone office, soda fountain shop, two one-roomed cabins, the Donahue Train Depot (c. 1870), along with the Ox Locomotive and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Caboose #14353.

In addition to this, there is much old farm machinery to be viewed plus a boot hill cemetery.

My Uncle, Aunt, and Mother outside the Donahue Train Depot

My Uncle, Aunt, and Mother outside the Donahue Train Depot

Making History Come Alive!

This site would make a perfect outing to take a picnic lunch while enjoying the ambiance of seeing the rural buildings dating back to pioneer days in Iowa. Restrooms are available, and picnic tables placed throughout the pretty grounds provide seating.

School children are often taken there by busloads when school is in session. Parks like this one make history come alive. The volunteer group, Friends of Walnut Grove Pioneer Village, conducts all kinds of events during the year, showcasing things like blacksmithing, weaving, etc. Seasonal festivals there would be fun to attend.

Since our visit, the park now bears the name Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. His career path entailed 30 years with the Scott County Park system, and he retired as the director. Many items on display at this site came from his collections. You can read more about him in the source link below.

Visiting this site was an enlightening step back into history for us that day. It made for a delightful summer's day trip while we were staying with our relatives in Iowa.

Old railroad cars

Old railroad cars

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village Location

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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