Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Destination Iowa: Living History Farms

300 years of Iowa farming history comes to life

By Steve Nibbelink
The Record
Graphic Designer

Check out all the photos shot for this story at this FB photo album.

It’s unusual to see and hear the sights and sounds of an Iowa farm smack in the middle of urban sprawl. However if you visit the Living History Farms in Urbandale you’ll get exactly that.

Nearly 40 years ago the Living History Farms purchased the historic Flynn Mansion from the State of Iowa. Located on 500 acres just off of Hickman Road in Urbandale, the outdoor museum has expanded to include working examples of an Ioway Indian village, an 1850s pioneer farm and a 1900 Iowa farming homestead.

The museum complex is also home to the fictional town of Walnut Hill. This town depicts rural Iowa town life in the year of 1875. Actual buildings from the period have been purchased, moved to the museum and restored. Hands-on displays include but are not limited to visits to the Blacksmith, the farm implement store, the drug store, the general store, and the Church of the Land, which is built on the site of Pope John Paul II’s historic mass in 1979.

The Living History Farms is home to several buildings on the National Historic Register, including the aforementioned Flynn Mansion. The entire complex has been listed by the New York Times as “one of 100 places to see before you die.”

Located at 11121 Hickman Road in Urbandale, the museum complex is approximately 74 miles southwest of Conrad. Open from May – October, admission is $11.50 for adults, $7 for children 3-12 and $10.50 for citizens 60 and over.

Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and Sunday Noon – 5, May 1 – August 22 also 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and Sunday noon – 5, Aug. 25 – Oct.15.

For more information about Living History Farms point your browser at

Upcoming 2010 Special Events at the Living History Farms include:
Farmer’s Market 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday May 12 – Oct. 6.
Historic Baseball Games played on premises July 4, July 18, Aug. 8, Sept. 5, Sept. 19, and Oct. 3.
Behind the Barn Concerts are scheduled for July 7, July 25, Aug. 4, and Sept. 1.

July 3-4
Family Weekend: Independence Day. Free ice cream floats will be available with paid admission on Saturday the third. On Sunday come celebrate an 1870’s Independence Day.

July 17
History Snapshot: Circuit Court
Be part of the Jury as costumed museum staff recreate court cases from 1870s Iowa.

Aug. 7-8
Family Weekend: Threshing Days. Experience the many methods and machines used to harvest oats and wheat at the historic farms.

Aug. 14
History Snapshot: Pioneer Wedding. Join the 1850 Pioneer Farm staff as they recreate a wedding complete with ceremony, dancing and a wedding cake.

Sept. 4-5
Family Weekend: Farmer’s Fall Carnival. Visit our carnival with music, old-fashioned carnival games, and pony rides. Enjoy a melodrama and the 1875 traveling museum of curiosities.

Sept. 18
Photography Day. Take pictures of the scenic park. Photography experts will be on hand with photo tips and workshops.

Sept. 29 – Oct. 3
Historic Quilt Show. View rarely seen quilts from this nationally recognized quilt collection. The quilts will be displayed in the Church of the Land.

Oct. 2-3
Family Weekend: Harvest Fest. Help museum staff bring in the harvest as you handpick the corn. Afterward you can enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride and sample fresh apple fritters.

Oct. 21-24 & 28-31
Family Halloween Nights
Dress in your favorite costume and come trick-or-treating in Walnut Hill. Horse-drawn wagon rides, storytellers, marshmallow roasts and much more will complete the experience.

Dec. 11
Prairie Christmas. Celebrate a holiday open house with a prairie feel. Visit with Santa Claus. Participate in an old-fashioned church social and ride in a horse-drawn wagon.

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Destination Iowa, Life near an Iowa Cornfield | , , , | Leave a comment