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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


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

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 05, 2018:

Hi Nicole,

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village is not a large place but it is charming. It is nice that history has been preserved in this manner for people who live nearby. It is a great little picnic spot.

Kitty Fields from Summerland on May 05, 2018:

What an enchanting little historic place! Love the personal photos, too. Thanks for sharing this special place with us, Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2018:

Hi Rochelle,

I also enjoy places that showcase history. Another place in Iowa that is definitely worth some time to visit is the Hoover Presidential Museum. That was fascinating!

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on April 20, 2018:

I love to visit places like this. I have a cousin in Iowa-- I'll have to share this.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2012:

Hi bdegiulio,

Many people think of Iowa as having nothing but corn fields and pig farms, but it is much more than that. Hope you get to visit not only the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village, but much more of the beautiful state someday. Thanks for your comment.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on May 16, 2012:

Very interesting Peggy, Talk about stepping back in time. I've never been to Iowa but would love to spend a day here. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2011:

Hi WesternHistory,

You are probably correct in that quite a few places like Walnut Grove Pioneer Village have been preserved in various places around the country. Nice for tourists and also for children to see how people used to live and work. Makes it seem more real than just reading about it in a book. Thanks for your comment.

WesternHistory from California on July 09, 2011:

Very good story. There are so many towns around the country that have a rich history dating back to the pioneer days. Probably a lot of interesting and educational stops for a tourist.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2011:

Hi Dave,

I loved that series on television. Little House on the Prairie will live in re-runs forever (hopefully). It was a good show. Thanks for visiting Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa via this hub and thanks for your added commentary.

Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 07, 2011:

The first time I heard Walnut Grove was on the TV series, "Little House on the Prairie". I just love that show and admire Laura for keeping a journal of her family's adventures on the frontier. That show is still running today on many stations.

I have never visited the 'real' Walnut Grove, but am fortunate to live in Missouri, about 5 hours from Mansfield, where Almonzo and Laura eventually settled. Their original home is there, full of objects from their life together, as well as their daughter Rose's home, built just over a small hill.

Almonzo and Laura are buried in the local cemetary where children still leave small gifts on their headstone.

I hope someday to visit the real Walnut Grove. Thanks for showing me a glimpse of what it looks like!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2010:

Hi dahoglund,

Write your own version of the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village and let's link them! Probably not too many people writing about it and you can fill in the personal details such as the ones you put here as a comment. With your research capabilities...yours will be superb, I am sure! Can't wait to read your hub about the Rock Island Arsenal!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on June 27, 2010:

Peggy W

I see here another subject you beat me to. We used to go out to the pioneer village quite a bit in the summer. One of my coworkers did blacksmith demonstrations there and other place. Unfortunately I heard that he had died.

He had started an organization called "the heritage arts"

something. I forget the exact title but it was made up of people interested in old crafts such as blacksmiths.and, of coarse, folkmusic.

Another co-worker was married in that church.

I've made an informal outline for a hub on the Rock Island Arsenal. I'll get it done eventually.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2009:

Greetings rsbarbee,

What a coincidence that you would find my History of Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa one day after your visit! Obviously you enjoyed it if you would go back. If we lived closer, we would join you for that soda! Thanks for the comment.

rsbarbee on September 16, 2009:

How great is this - we were just there yesterday and it was a great trip back in time. Next time, I'd like to go on Saturday or Sunday and stop at the soda fountain.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 01, 2009:

Hi again AEvans,

Nice to hear a bit more about your family history in Iowa. If we are in Sioux City we will look for your great-grandfather's name. What was it? Are there some specific buildings with his name on them? Maybe you could write a hub about him? Sounds as though it would make for an interesting personal family history hub.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on August 31, 2009:

My family is from Iowa and I have many relatives who still live there as well. My great-grandfather was one of the wonderful people who helped in the building of Sioux City his name is everywhere. When we were there I had seen homes and met family members who knew of my great-grandfather and I have to say I am certainly proud to be an Iowan. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 30, 2009:

Hello AEvans,

Glad this hub about Iowa and specifically the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village provided you with a little glimpse of history of your beloved state. Iowa has much of interest and I will be writing about more areas in the future. My husband and most of his relatives were born in Iowa.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on August 29, 2009:

I am originally from Iowa, I love the History and the people thank you for sharing a little bit of home. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 17, 2009:

Hello Wife Who Saves,

Glad you enjoyed reading about Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. Times were simpler and people knew one another and helped each other back then. Probably lots of bartering. Not all bad! Thanks for the comment.

Wife Who Saves on August 17, 2009:

I enjoyed reading your hub. Nice photos, too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 11, 2009:

Hi James,

Yes, this little collection of buildings and furnishings let one appreciate a snippet of time from by-gone days in that part of the country. The church is definitely their most interesting centerpiece building. Thanks for the compliment on the hub.

James A Watkins from Chicago on July 10, 2009:

Interesting little piece of history, Peggy. The church is wonderfully pleasing to the eye. Nice Hub. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2009:

Hello shamelabboush, Glad you liked these photos of the old buildings. I had to laugh at your remark about my possibly being camera shy. I am in some photos in different hubs where other people also had cameras. Most of the time the person wielding the camera is TAKING the photos instead of posing for them. LOL

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2009:

Hi frogyfish,

Yes each building undoubtedly contains many interesting stories. Unlike some other pioneer villages (one in Wisconsin that I remember in particular) that have people dressed up in dated clothing and engaged in doing actual work tied to that appropriate time of year (for instance...harvesting; baking; using blacksmith tools; spinning and sewing, etc.) this village did not have attendants or docents there to be explaining anything. But just having the buildings and furnishings open for viewing in the nice Iowa countryside spoke volumes.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

shamelabboush on June 30, 2009:

I just love old historic places! Great photos up there Peggy but how come we always get to see your niece and mother and not you? Camera shy? :)


frogyfish from Central United States of America on June 29, 2009:

"Delightful piece, seems serene...is probably full of historical stories! Thanks for sharing this interesting spot!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2009:

Hi Melody, Thanks for your comment.

Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on June 29, 2009:

A very entertaining hub, Peggy, thanks.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2009:

Thanks Kiran!

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on June 28, 2009:

As usual another very interesting and informative hub :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2009:

You are welcome, Ethel.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 28, 2009:

Thanks for sharing your visit Peggy

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