Discover the authentic stories of Iowa’s history presented at the Iowa's eight state-owned historic sites.
State Historic Sites
Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin
In 1857, amidst rising tensions between Native Americans and new settlers, 13-year-old Abbie Gardner’s family was killed by men of the Dakota Indian nation. This tragedy became known as the Spirit Lake Massacre. Young Abbie was taken hostage by the Dakota band and released 84 days later. Decades after the massacre, in 1891, Abbie returned to Arnolds Park and purchased the cabin, operating it as one of Iowa’s earliest tourist attractions.
American Gothic House
Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic brought this 1880s house notice as the backdrop of the famous image of a Midwest farmer and his daughter. Hundreds of parodies and takeoffs have made it a popular cultural icon that is one of the most recognized in the world.
Take your own American Gothic photo in front of the 1930s exterior, or see the original interior during monthly tours April through October and other special programs. Stop into the visitor center for quirky displays and souvenirs.
Blood Run National Historic Landmark
Imagine this site as it once was – a large village and ceremonial site of the ancestors of the Omaha, Ponca, Iowa and Oto-Missouria tribes, known as the Oneota people. The Oneota were attracted to the site by the Big Sioux River, abundant game, fertile soil and access to pipestone. The land was inhabited from 900 A.D. to 1720 A.D. and was a major trading site from about 1500 to 1700.
Take a self-guided walking tour along mowed trails to view protected burial mounds, village sites and other features of cultural interest.
Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop
A skilled blacksmith and inventor, German immigrant Matthew Edel owned this shop from 1883 until his death in 1940. In 1884, Edel was one of 2,100 blacksmiths in Iowa.
Today it's rare to find such a complete and original shop open to visitors, kept just as he left it the day he died. See his tools, inventions, and hear stories about blacksmithing in the age before tractors and automobiles.
Montauk Historic Site
Visit the historic mansion and home of Iowa’s 12th Governor William Larrabee. See how the Larrabee family lived on this rural estate from 1874 to 1965 and enjoy the unique and original furnishings. Walk the grounds and trails overlooking the Turkey River Valley.
Plum Grove Historic Home
Experience early Iowa history at the home of Iowa's first territorial governor, Robert Lucas. He built this seven-room Greek Revival house in 1844 using local materials. Though it was once part of an 80-acre farm, it is now nestled in an Iowa City neighborhood and furnished by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America with authentic period artifacts common in 1844-1853.
Toolesboro Mounds National Historic Landmark
Travel the grounds of these burial mounds dating from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. They include some of the best-preserved and accessible remnants of Iowa’s Hopewell culture, a Middle Woodland people who hunted, gathered and gardened.
Explore the prairie demonstration plot and the visitor center exhibits of this National Historic Landmark and State Archeological Preserve.
Western Historic Trails Center
Follow in the footsteps of early travelers to Iowa. See what they saw during their travels on the Lewis and Clark, Oregon, California and Mormon Trails.
Enjoy exhibits, films, maps and family-friendly events at the Lied Historical Building on the Path of Names. Walk or bike along the trails to the banks of the Missouri River and other destinations around Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska. The National Park Service designed and built this as a center for exploration.