Dickinson County Museum - Where History LIVES!

The Dickinson County Museum, in a 140 year old depot, provides unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories, and lives from Dickinson County.  Our purpose is to inspire people to learn from those artifacts through public programs, publications, educational activities, and special events.

Virtual Tour

If you can’t visit us in person, visit us virtually!

Virtual tour created by the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Come and visit us in person to experience many, many stories of the people, events, and communities of the early days of Dickinson County and the Iowa Great Lakes!


You did it!  Because of your generosity, we raised $7000 and qualified for the $7000 Matching Grant!  This means you will be seeing some upgrades to our exhibits, and perhaps one really amazing project in the future.  Stay tuned - and THANK YOU!  You may still donate to this fund!

Did You Know?

There is a piano in the upstairs living quarters of our depot?  Steve Dyson, grandson of the last depot agent whose family called our depot "home" shares an almost unbelievable story of how the piano came to be in the upstairs of the depot.


Railroad Wizard:  The Lost Stories of Dickinson County's Railroads

Sunday, October 15 2:00 pm at the Dickinson County Museum


History LIVES! at the Dickinson County Museum!

Join Don Hofsommer, noted railroad expert and author of "Prairie Oasis - the Railroads, Steamboats, and Resorts of Iowa's Spirit Lake Country" as he shares stories and information about the early days of the railroads in the county and the impact they made.  Don is an engaging, knowledgable speaker who will bring the area's railroads to LIFE!



Every Wednesday at 10:00 folks gather at the Museum for conversation about the way it was in Dickinson County Way Back When.  The conversation is lively and fun, and many laughs are shared.  All are welcome!  Coffee included!


Our popular History LIVES! Speaker series features engaging speakers sharing stories, information, and photos about Dickinson County’s colorful past.  In addition to experiencing the live programs, all programs are live-streamed on our FaceBook page and uploaded to our YouTube channel.



A Little Bit New for You

Staff and volunteers have spent lots of time over the winter sorting artifacts, rearranging displays, "spiffing" exhibits, and moving duplicate items into storage. Why? To improve your experience at the museum, of course! Our displays now feature items that enable visitors to easily enter into the stories of Dickinson County. Some of our favorites? Quilts (on a new rack built by volunteer Terry Gano) that feature signatures of early residents, a gun used by Fred Gilbert - the "Wizard of Spirit Lake"- in national trapshooting contests, military uniforms - and the stories of those who wore them, and the infamous permanent wave machine used in a Milford beauty shop.

Next up? Creating meaningful labels that focus on the stories. You see, we believe that our artifacts are beyond awesome. They really are. Yet the real super power of our awesome artifacts is that they are portals into the stories of those who came before us. And those stories are worth knowing, for sure.

Trivia? Of course!

Thanks to two awesome Okoboji No Boundaries students, the Museum is now offering Trivia Challenges! Maggie and Jazmyn figured out a way to load scintillating questions into game software that creates a fun, fun, fun experience for everyone! The questions are all about Dickinson County history, and most include helpful photos. Teams work together to answer the questions within a time limit, and team scores are posted frequently.

To make the experience even better, our own local historian and author, Jonathan Reed, provides commentary and more information about the questions.

Be watching for our Trivia Challenges - both at the Museum and offsite! If your organization needs a fun interactive program, let us know - we'd love to share the fun with you!

Get Involved

Join the growing community of Dickinson County Museum supporters!