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History of Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa ~ Pictures ~ A Look Back

Updated on August 7, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Long Grove, Iowa

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 | Source

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village

This article addresses looking back into a bygone era and learning some history by visiting the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa.

Not too far from where my aunt and uncle live in Iowa is the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. It is located at 18817 290th Street, Long Grove, Iowa 52756. 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.

Except for special occasions where charges might be incurred, the park is open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM, from April to October, and the admission is free.

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 | Source

Historic Buildings

The school, blacksmith shop and at least one of the cabins were all original to this site and the remaining total of 18 historic structures were relocated to this three-acre area from other locations where the buildings might have been in danger of neglect or eventual demolition.

A stage coach 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.

St. Ann's Church

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

Today it can be utilized for weddings and some newlyweds choose to have their nuptials performed in this charming little historic church.

Interior photos of St. Ann's Church in Walnut Grove

Ornate altar inside St. Ann's Church (c. 1853 - 1870)
Ornate altar inside St. Ann's Church (c. 1853 - 1870) | Source
St. Ann's Church in Walnut Grove
St. Ann's Church in Walnut Grove | Source

Walnut Grove Bank photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Old free standing safe from the former German Savings Bank in EldridgeExterior of bank buildingOutside of the bank
Old free standing safe from the former German Savings Bank in Eldridge
Old free standing safe from the former German Savings Bank in Eldridge | Source
Exterior of bank building
Exterior of bank building | Source
Outside of the bank
Outside of the bank | Source

The Walnut Grove Bank

The Walnut Grove Bank building (c. 1890) has an interesting free standing safe relocated from another bank, the German Savings Bank, in Eldridge.

I wonder if there were any bandits that ever succeeded in robbing that secure looking safe?

Keppy and Nagle General Store

The Keppy & Nagle General Store is filled with crocks, jars and other containers that would have held the usual supplies offered for sale in those days of yesteryear's.

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


The Keppy & Nagle General Store

Inside view of the store.
Inside view of the store. | Source
Outside view of the Keppy & Nagle General Store
Outside view of the Keppy & Nagle General Store | Source

Butler Township Schoolhouse #2

The one roomed Butler Township Schoolhouse #2 (c. 1870) is typically furnished with the double wooden desks and a pot bellied stove for use as a heater in the center of the room. Adorning the walls were the slate blackboards along with framed photos of United States Presidents and geography maps of that era.

Of course every school house had a world globe and an American flag at the front of the room.

An eighth grade education was a really good one in that day and time!

Inside photos of Butler Township Schoolhouse #2 at Walnut Grove

Partial view of the one-roomed schoolhouse at Walnut Grove - (photos pieced together...windows were not crooked as this would suggest)
Partial view of the one-roomed schoolhouse at Walnut Grove - (photos pieced together...windows were not crooked as this would suggest) | Source

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

In addition to all of this there is much old farm machinery to be viewed and a boot-hill cemetery.

My Aunt, Uncle & Mother outside the Donahue Train Depot, c. 1870
My Aunt, Uncle & Mother outside the Donahue Train Depot, c. 1870 | Source

Making History Come Alive!

This would be a perfect outing to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the ambiance of seeing these rural buildings dating back to pioneer days in Iowa. Restrooms are provided and picnic tables which are scattered throughout the pretty grounds provide seating.

School children are often taken there by the busloads when school is in session. Parks like this one make history come alive.

Visiting the Walnut Grove Pioneer Village was not only an enlightening step back into history for us that day, but it made for a very pleasant summer's day sojourn while we were visiting with our relatives in Iowa.

Old railroad cars at Walnut Grove Pioneer Village
Old railroad cars at Walnut Grove Pioneer Village | Source

Do you enjoy seeing old historic places?

See results

Walnut Grove Pioneer Village location...

A marker18817 290th Street, Long Grove, Iowa 52756 -
18817 290th St, Long Grove, IA 52756, USA
get directions

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      WesternHistory 6 years ago from California

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      Knightheart 6 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      rsbarbee 8 years ago

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

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

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • profile image

      Wife Who Saves 8 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your hub. Nice photos, too.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

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

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      shamelabboush 8 years ago

      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? :)

      Thanks

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

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

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Melody, Thanks for your comment.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      A very entertaining hub, Peggy, thanks.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks Kiran!

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 8 years ago from Mangalore, India

      As usual another very interesting and informative hub :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You are welcome, Ethel.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for sharing your visit Peggy